The History of Alcohol in Colorado
Let's be honest, NoCo loves beer. Here in Fort Collins, we produce some of the most recognizable craft beers in the country. The other day I was sipping on a Voodoo Ranger and it got me thinking...how did we get to this point? What is the history of alcohol in Colorado?
Well, if you were wondering the same thing, I did the research so you don’t have to.
Let's start with my favorite century of American History, the 1800’s. According to the Colorado Encyclopedia, drinking became popular in Colorado during the Gold Rush of 58-59. As mining camps were established around the state, salons would soon follow. Places of both governance and sin, grizzly miners and wayfaring cowboys would soon pervade the new establishments. What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall during those times! The new drinking culture that came to Colorado brought with it various “scandalous” activities such as gambling and boxing. It was so bad that some colonies such as the Union Colony and Chicago-Colorado Colony, now Greeley and Longmont, would be established as dry towns.
The rough and rowdy saloons began to spur the debate of the moral implications of alcohol, a common debate in the second half of the nineteenth century. The argument raged throughout the rest of the dying days of the west. The new progressive movement would finally implement prohibition laws in 1916. This would be four years before the start of prohibition nationally, however, this would soon be an unpopular view. Colorado would be the first state to hold a referendum on the eighteenth amendment in 1926. As we know today, it failed. However, we can see how almost a century ago Colorado's special relationship with alcohol.
Prohibition ended in 1933, however it would still be illegal to drink in many Colorado communities. According to Colorado Public Radio, most of Northern Colorado would stay dry until the late 1960s. They also mentioned how students from my beloved CSU had a “beer-in,” sippin' on some Colorado Kool-Aid (Coors) in a protest against the draconian drinking laws. Let's go Rams!
So there you have it! That was a, and I can’t understate the word brief history of the history of alcohol in Colorado. From outlaws to “sit-ins”, Colorado has had a turbulent past with booze, to say the least. All of that has cemented Colorado into being one of the nation's, if not the world's, premium places for craft beers.
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