The Coors Copper Kettles featured on the brewery tour in Golden, Colorado Photo Credit: Suzy Guese
Crowds line up in the parking lot waiting to be picked up by a van labeled Coors in Golden, Colorado. The dress is not Rockies hats and Bronco T-shirts but rather everything Midwest, from the Chiefs to Michigan State.
Founded by German immigrant Adolph Coors in 1873, the Coors brewery rests outside of Denver in Golden. The crowds that come on a Saturday may have no interest in the brewing process. The 21 somethings joke with southern twangs, “I could have bought a 6 pack of Coors and had my own tour by now” as the wait to enter grows to almost an hour on a cold Saturday afternoon.
Perhaps most come for the price. Admission is free to tour the brewery, with no reservations needed. Others may be enticed by the three free samples waiting at the conclusion of an audio-guided tour. Maybe people come from all over the world to view the symmetrically placed copper kettles or they are start-up brewers looking to find inspiration, golden, full bodied inspiration.
The tour begins much like Disneyland. Instead of a screaming roller coaster face with hands in the air, a photographer asks you to stand in front of a print of the Coors cooper kettles. The “tourist” aspect has just begun with only a few steps through the door. That photo can be purchased after the tour for a hefty $20.
Next visitors 12 and older can pick up audio guides. Those 21 and older get wristbands to sample Coors at the conclusion of the tour. A golden elevator leads up to the brew house, a rainbow of copper. The audio guide excitedly informs listeners they are standing in the largest single site brewery in the world. After all that listening, some 10 minutes, visitors must get thirsty, with Coors offering a small tasting halfway through the tour. Finally the actual brewery tour concludes with a view of the packaging room. On weekends the room looks unimpressive for cans are not whizzing down the lines.
The most important part it seems for some is the tasting room. Lines form towards the bar where Coors, Coors Light, Blue Moon, Killians Red, Full Moon Seasonal, and Winterfest brands are offered. The crowds are thirsty with most getting their first sample and heading right back in line to get the second and then the third.
The site also houses a gift shop for those looking to take home a T-Shirt or thermos. While it is to be expectedly more commercial and touristy than a tour of a microbrew, the Coors brewery has every right to be. Since 1990, Coors has maintained the title of third largest brewer in America. The brewery site even remained active during Prohibition, manufacturing porcelain, malted milk and near-beer. The brewery is a survivor, fixed in a small town but with one of the biggest names in beer around the world.
Tours are offered Thursday through Monday from 10AM to 4PM and on Sundays from 12PM to 4PM. It may be better to visit during the week when there are less tourists and the packaging room is actually packaging everything Coors. Entry can be found on 13th and Ford in Golden. Try and park in the lot closest to the brewery as the designated tour lot seems to be the Coors way of regulating the stream of tourists with a fickly timed shuttle bus.