Craft brewery closings on the rise across Colorado

DENVER -- Colorado's brewery scene is facing some challenging times this summer.

The beer business is not drying up, but the number of breweries shutting their doors and turning off their taps is on the rise after years of explosive growth.

Last year, 165 breweries shut down last year. That is up from close to 100 in 2016. About 20 of those closings were in Colorado.

After years of double-digit expansion, production growth has settled to about 5 percent.

People are still drinking beer -- and lots of it -- but the business is quickly being forced to scale back and sober up.

"One reason is we just have more breweries," said Bart Watson with the Colorado Brewers Association. "Even if it’s a low percent rate, less than 3 percent close, that turns into big absolute number. I think another reason is competition.

“I don’t know if we [are] talking saturation, but we are certainly talking about maturation. We [are] still seeing openings continue,  but not at the rate it once was. And you won’t have the growth rate you had 10 years ago."

The number of breweries closing is outpaced by new ones opening.

Last year, close to 1,000 new breweries opened across the country.