Factory Tour: Coors Brewing facility

The world’s largest single site brewery

Company Spotlight
The Coors Brewery is located forty five minutes outside of Denver in the same town as Yeti Bicycles.

The Coors Brewery is located forty five minutes outside of Denver in the same town as Yeti Bicycles (click to enlarge).

Whether you call it beer or water, Coors (or more specifically, its parent MillerCoors) is among the largest brewers in the world. Sales of their beer account for nearly 30% of the United States market, which makes them the second largest beer company in America.

A view of the sprawling facilities taken from one of the nearby mountain bike trails.

A view of the sprawling facilities taken from one of the nearby mountain bike trails (click to enlarge).

While they have several breweries throughout the country, the largest of these is located in Golden, Colorado. This facility is the world’s largest single site brewery and is capable of churning out 3.3 million 6 packs a day.

This area has been home to the Coors brewery since its founding by German immigrant Adolph Coors in 1873. The location was picked because of the quality of the water, which is pumped directly from aquifers underneath the factory.

Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge (click to enlarge).

During the summer, Coors offers self-guided thirty minute audio tours seven days a week. Each tour begins a with a golden ticket and a brief bus ride.

In addition to the audio component, many of the locations have detailed written information.

In addition to the audio component, many of the locations have detailed written information (click to enlarge).

Once inside, you’re subjected to a souvenir photo booth, and handed an audio guide.

Beer cans were first introduced to America in 1935, but Adolph Coors JR always disliked the way tin cans altered the beer flavors.

Beer cans were first introduced to America in 1935, but Adolph Coors JR always disliked the way tin cans altered the beer flavors (click to enlarge).

Despite its reputation for crappy beer, Coors has been at the forefront of a number of major innovations in the beer industry. In 1959 they became the first manufacturer to utilize an all aluminum can and offer incentives for recycling. In those days, they paid out one cent for every returned can. The company was also the first to develop a sterile fill process and introduce refrigerator marketing.

This wall showcases just a small number of the beers brewed at this facility.

This wall showcases just a small number of the beers brewed at this facility (click to enlarge).

In addition to Coors (which locals refer to as “Banquet”), a number of other beers are produced at this facility, including variations of: Miller, Keystone, Blue Moon, Killian’s, and Redd’s Cider.

There are over 300,000 visitors to this facility each year.

There are over 300,000 visitors to this facility each year (click to enlarge).

Unlike some brewery tours that take you deep into the heart of their operations, the Coors tour is a more of a curated museum experience. Like their beer, it has a more mass market appeal.

Each of these oversized kettles holds 19,000 gallons, or ~200,000 12 oz bottles!

Each of these oversized kettles holds 19,000 gallons, or ~200,000 12 oz bottles! (click to enlarge)

As you wander the corridors that allow you to peek into various parts of the viewing and bottling process, you eventually reach this impressive room which houses 50 kettles. Each kettle is holds 19,000 gallons each, or over 200,000 12 oz bottles.

Towards the rear of the room are a row of kettles which are reserved for speciality beers. They are 1/16th the size and used primarily to make AC Golden, a line sold exclusively in Colorado. Spoiler note: It’s not half bad.

While Coors has had serious environmental violations in the past, the company is working towards better environmental practices. For example, they've partnered with Solar City to create a the largest solar array at any US brewery. The system includes 10,000 panels scattered across 10 acres and has a 3.2 megawatt capacity.

While Coors has had serious environmental violations in the past, the company is working towards better environmental practices. For example, they’ve partnered with Solar City to create a the largest solar array at any US brewery. The system includes 10,000 panels scattered across 10 acres and has a 3.2 megawatt capacity.

Each day, approximately 15 trailer loads of spent grain are removed from the facility. Each of those trailers is capable of holding 52,000 lbs. All of that spent grain is shipped to local cattle growers to be used as feed.

Quality checks include microbiological and analytical testing at random stages.

Quality checks include microbiological and analytical testing at random stages (click to enlarge).

Throughout the brewing process, ingredients are subjected to strenuous quality tests. The company claims that they perform more than 1,000 quality checks in a typical facility each day.

Continue to page 2 for more from the Coors factory tour »

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