The Big BJ Dilemma

It’s no secret that Northern Colorado is bursting at the seems with new breweries, brew pubs and beer bars opening up. The area is a great place to be a beer lover, beer maker or beer proprietor. Often the question comes up, “how many breweries are there now in Fort Collins?”, “how many beer bars?”, “is it a brewery or a brewpub?”. With the ever increasing number of beer-centric establishments, there is always debate about who goes onto which list. A recent Tweet from local reporter Trevor Hughes of the Coloradoan spurred such a debate between many local Fort Collins residents as well as nationally known beervangelists. Where does recently opened BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse fall on this list when it comes to how many breweries reside in the city of Fort Collins?

The lines can be a bit blurry sometimes. How many taps do you need to have to be considered a beer bar? Does serving macro beers count against your qualification? But other times, the lines are clear and defined. So clear in fact, that not only has the Brewers Association, but also the State of Colorado (in the way a business is licensed and taxed) has defined them.

BJ’s Restaurant BJs-Restaurant-Logois a national pizza restaurant chain that began in California in 1978. They began brewing beer at several locations in 1996 when “the BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse concept was launched”. There are 5 locations in Colorado and the newest opened on Harmony Road in Fort Collins. When it opened, it was added to many lists as the newest brewery to begin operating. This, however, is a false assumption. BJ’s in Fort Collins is not a brewery, and for many reasons than just my own opinion on chain breweries.

First and most importantly, there is no brewery at the Fort Collins BJ’s. No brewhouse. No brewer. No brewery. The business operates on a Hotel and Restaurant license through the state of Colorado. This is very different than a brewpub license, or a manufactures license. One of which is needed to make, and sell, beer on-site. The BJ’s location in Boulder does have a brewpub license. All of the beer served in Fort Collins is made and shipped from Boulder.

Next, we don’t count CB&Potts as two Fort Collins breweries, so why count BJ’s. The Campus West location has a decently sized brewhouse at it’s location. The one at the Collindale golf course does not produce it’s own beer, but sells the beer made at it’s sister location. Just as the Fort Collins BJ’s serves its sister location’s product.

If these two reasons weren’t enough to convince you, let me tell you about my personal convictions for not naming BJ’s as a brewery. Northern Colorado has become a huge draw for beer tourists and beercations. Most of these people do internet searches for figure out which breweries they are planning to go to when they visit. It would be very unfortunate to have a tourist waste time visiting BJs believing it is one of our local stellar breweries when it is nothing of the sort. It is not local, it it not a brewery. By calling BJ’s a brewery we are taking potential customers away from the actual breweries.

So what do you think? Do you still list BJ’s as a brewery?



Filed under Beer Bar, Brewery

5 responses to “The Big BJ Dilemma

  1. Sam

    The argument is purely academic (and borderline pointless). Anyone who was considering Fort Collins for a “beercation” wouldn’t confuse this issue any more than they would with Potts. Basically, this is a non-issue issue.

  2. Totally agree with you! However, many of these locations pay to be in the Beer Drinker’s Guide to Colorado and further confuse tourists and those new to craft beer.

  3. Not living in the bountiful brewery lands of Northern Colorado I’m happy to have a BJ’s in Northern Cincinnati. The house beers aren’t bad and they have plenty of craft beers from other breweries, including local Cincinnati brewers. Plus that is some tasty deep dish pizza.

    BJ’s is, in my opinion, a gateway place. Folks will go there for Pizza or to watch a game then say “hey.. they make beer too… I thought beer was just B/M/C light. Hey, this is good!!”

    Boom! One more craft beer drinker.

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