Thank you for everything. Don’t worry; this isn’t a goodbye letter. We wanted to say that right off the bat, to save any readers from a few moments of panic. For some reason, starting something with, “thank you for everything” makes it sound like a goodbye. In fact, this is quite the opposite. This is a love letter.
Thank you for everything. You, our friends, our family, our neighbors, our coworkers, lifties, fishing buddies, drinking partners, loyal customers and fellow small business owners, you make Telluride Brewing possible … everyday, but especially today.
In the best of times, running a small craft brewery is difficult. We are a minuscule fish in a giant ocean of beer. In Colorado craft beer alone, we are swimming with fish more than 100 times our size. Nationally, the biggest fish, we’ll call them sharks, could buy and sell us literally thousands of times over with their pocket change. The bigger fish can make good beer. They can also drive prices down and dictate what people drink with the benefit of cheaper production and massive marketing budgets. Yet, here we all are, drinking beer from our small craft brewery.
In the best of times, operating a production brewery high up in the mountains is difficult. We knew this going in. We knew that situating ourselves more than 300 miles from the nearest population center and more than 100 miles from an interstate, at the end of a winding two-lane highway, 8,750 feet above sea level, would lead to some challenges. Trucks get stuck in the snow. Some years we don’t get enough snow to draw crowds. There are about 500 breweries and taprooms between most Coloradans and us. And it’s just more difficult to source ingredients and brew beer at altitude. Yet, here we all are, drinking beer brewed high up in the mountains.
In the best of times, following your dreams and making something you believe in is difficult. We believe in making consistent, high-quality beer for consistent, high-quality people. We believe in things that are tried and true, leaving room for improvement and innovation dictated only by our imaginations and the people we serve, and we believe those people are more important than growth for the sake of growth. We also believe this might not be the most efficient or lucrative business strategy. The beer market is fickle. What was cool last week is rarely cool today, and sometimes, it seems like everybody on Earth has been waiting for somebody else to mix their sparkling water with alcohol for them. There are always a million reasons to pivot, follow trends or sell out. There are a million easy exits.
Yet, here we all are, almost nine years into this dream, drinking beer we believe in.
In the best of times Telluride Brewing is a long shot, and these are not the best of times. We don’t want to and will not belittle the loss of life, livelihood and security occurring around the world by comparing it to the hardships or loss of a small mountain brewery. If Telluride Brewing closed tomorrow, it would not be the most tragic thing to happen on an average day, let alone the most tragic thing to happen tomorrow in light of our current situation. But, everything in perspective, this pandemic and its ripple effects might be the end for many small craft breweries like us.
Bars and restaurants across the state are shuttered, and along with them, about 50 percent of our business. Liquor and grocery stores, most of them hundreds of miles away, are holding their own, but consumers aren’t perusing beer aisles looking for something local, new or fun. They’re understandably holding their wallets tight, buying in bulk and hunkering down. So when you hear “beer sales are through the roof,” it’s the sharks that are reaping these marginal benefits, not the little fish. The mountains are ostensibly closed, which, as you know all too well, means no crowds of tourists and therefore no additional local customers for the foreseeable future. If there are always a million reasons to close, now there are two million. Yet, here we all are, alone together, drinking beer we believe in from our small craft brewery high in the mountains.
We are not closing, and we have no plans to. The reason we can say that is because of you, Telluride.
All of you who choose small, who choose local, who choose the dreamers, you’ve made this long shot possible over the past eight and half years, and you are making it possible today. Thank you for everything.