Left Hand, Upslope Push to Expand Craft Options at Coors Field

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It took a few years, and getting in front of the right people, but Left Hand and Upslope Brewing are now available at Colorado Rockies home games at Denver’s Coors Field.

The effort was three-fold, with a tag-team trio of the brewery’s sales reps, its distribution partner in C. R. Goodman, along with the breweries’ fans.

This season, Upslope’s IPA is available in cans, and bottles of Left Hand’s Sawtooth Ale can be bought, as well with hopes for more craft varieties to come later this year.

C.R. Goodman’s Colorado Sales Manager, Todd Luther said it’s been a deal years in the making.

“Some reps have knocked on their door 50 times,” Luther said, referring to the food and beverage vendor for Coors Field, Aramark.

A change in the craft beer climate has been one helpful wave while Rockies fan’s thirst for something different was a big push as well.

Left Hand’s Denver sale rep, Nick Cassaro said it meant a lot of meetings and finally getting in front of the “right person.”

In January during the Winter Classic hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche, Denver metro on-premise manager Stephanie Holub and Cassaro were able to meet with someone at Aramark, which supplies food and beverage for most of the major venues in Colorado,.

“We brought some bottles and talked,” Cassaro said. “They couldn’t do anything for the hockey game, but we talked baseball.”

Cassaro said the meetings moved up to the next level, meaning Luther took over and worked out the deal with Aramark.

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“I think in the past they have been OK with dealing with just a few bigger distributors and calling it good in terms of craft beer that they offer,” Luther said. “They said they have been hearing from customers and fans that they should expand their craft options and with Left Hand being one of the larger craft beers in the state and Upslope being in cans and getting bigger, it seemed a logical fit.”

Luther said that C.R. Goodman, which deals in only craft and import selections, didn’t have to “sacrifice our morals,” when it came to pricing the beer in the park either.

“Honestly, pricing wasn’t a discussion with these guys,” he said. “[Aramark] were very much like, ‘We know we want this, the fans want it and let’s see if it takes.'”

Talks will resume in May to evaluate performance, and Aramark said it is willing to either switch out or add more selections after a review of the first month.

“It speaks a lot to the state of Colorado and when you go to a pro game or the airport, those places are now carrying craft beer and I think it’s big that the huge business recognizes that craft is a legitimate thing,” Cassaro said.

This isn’t Left Hand’s first foray into being in larger Colorado venues. Its Milk Stout has been available for purchase on the club level at the Avalanche’s Pepsi Center during games for two years and sales have gone well, Cassaro said. Sawtooth is also available on draft at Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium while some beer has been available at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Folsom Field for football games as well.

Luther said the in-road with Aramark is a big win for craft beer, and could be a gateway for other options in other major venues.

“The Colorado market in general is on the forefront of craft beer, so why shouldn’t their major stadiums do that also,” he said. “That’s what I was pushing to their buyer and I think they understand that as well.”

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