COLORADO SPRINGS — Denver will be packed this weekend, with the Great American Beer Festival rolling into town. A brewer from Colorado Springs will be in attendance, with a group of veterans helping other veterans find their place in the competitive world of craft beer.
Todd Baldwin said he was 28 years old when he decided to start his very own brewery, Red Leg Brewing Company. Baldwin said he had just gotten out of the army, after three years of active duty, and ten total years of service. "I don't think you really realize just how challenging transitioning out of the military is until you have to do it," said Baldwin.
Baldwin, along with two other brewers, came up with an idea to collaborate with other veterans in the craft beer industry. "Everyone was trying to open up a brewery at the time it seemed like. So, costs were just going up because supply and demand just weren't lining up anymore," said Baldwin.
It's called the Veterans Beer Alliance (VBA), and it stretches across the nation. "We worked together on the battlefield, now we can work together in the civilian world as well... We're able, basically, to buy our raw materials as a group collectively, and then we kind of distribute that back out, and we get those prices that maybe a larger brewery would get," said Baldwin.
Baldwin called Colorado Springs the heart of the VBA, because there are more members of the VBA in Colorado Springs than anywhere else. "Community cultures are dictated by their small businesses, and the more that we can attract and retain here in Colorado Springs, the better we'll all be off," said Baldwin.
Baldwin also said the members of the VBA that will be at the Great American Beer Festival all used the same batch of hops, but took their beers in different directions. The festival goes from Thursday to Saturday in Denver.