Denver Beer

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The oldest, continuously operating brewery in the United States is Pennsylvania’s famous Yuenglling. Second place honors belong to Denver’s famous Tivoli Brewing which produced the beautiful label on Denver Beer. This brewery operated at the same location from 1864 until 1969. It was re-opened in 2015, but we will get to that later…

The original brewery structure is now considered a historic landmark in the mile high city. The initial operation was started by a German brewer, Moritz Sigi, but with his sudden death in 1874 Sigi’s was acquired by Max Melsheimer, who renamed the brewery to Milwaukee Brewing.  A few years later, Melsheimer borrowed $250,000 from a local businessman and investor, John Good, to add new brewing equipment and a grain tower. However, he defaulted on the loan, and in 1901 Good became the owner of the brewery, renaming it Tivoli-Union Brewing Co.

Tivoli quickly became the dominant brewery in the western United States, and was one of only two in Colorado to survive prohibition. By the 1950s it was also one of the largest breweries in the country, producing more than 150,000 barrels of beer annually, selling to every state west of the Mississippi.

John Good died in 1918 but the brewery remained in the family until 1965 when the last family member passed. The brewery was then purchased from the estate by Carl & Joseph Occhiatio. Unfortunately, a flood damaged portions of the structure, and then labor strikes for higher wages in 1968 took their toll on the brewery, and it was closed in 1969.

The structure remained vacant until the early 1980s when it was renovated into a retail center and bar. In 1994 it became the Student Union building on the Auraria Campus of the Metropolitan State University of Denver, a purpose it still serves.  However, with the acquisition of the Tivoli Brewing name in 2012, several of the historic brews were revived and brought back into circulation. Tivoli Brewing re-opened in 2015 at its original headquarters, and in partnership with the Univeristy’s brewing program, is also a teaching facility for the next generation of brewers.