As part of its corporate farewell to Denver, Molson Coors Beverage Co. vowed last fall to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the company’s brewing plant in Golden, the second-largest beer-making facility in the world. Now the scope of that work is coming into focus, and heavy machinery is on the horizon in Jefferson County.
“Demolition activities will be starting relatively quickly,” Peter J. Coors, son of Molson Coors vice chairman and longtime face of Coors Brewing Pete Coors, told The Denver Post on Tuesday.
The younger Coors has been named the director of the G150 project, a name taken from the impending 150-year anniversary of family patriarch Adolph Coors launching a brewing company in Golden with fellow Prussian immigrant Jacob Schueler in 1873.
G150, scheduled to stretch into 2024, will completely overhaul the beer-making infrastructure at the massive plant. New, more-efficient fermenting, aging and filtration facilities will be built. The so-called “government cellars” where beer is stored prior to packaging will also be replaced with a state-of-the-art upgrade, Coors said. That building dates back to the 1950s.
“Obviously, we have made capital improvements of the course of the last 50, 60 years but all of those buildings were of that vintage,” he said. “It means a lot of that Molson Coors is putting the money into the Golden brewery to set us up going forward.”
The big-time public commitment to Coors Brewing’s birthplace, production epicenter and symbolic home was made as the parent company, the now-named Molson Coors Beverage Co. was preparing to pull up stakes in Denver –and move or eliminate 300 jobs — and relocating headquarters to Chicago.
The Coors family was notably absent from news releases about the relocation and refused to say much about it in the aftermath. Peter J. Coors declined to put an exact price tag on the project he is leading, sticking with the “hundreds of millions” figure on the record since last year, but he said this work should set up the Golden plant, workplace for about 800 of Molson Coors’ 1,600 Golden-area employees, for “generations to come.”
“We’re a Colorado family through and through and we take a lot of pride in the Golden brewery,” he said.
New facilities will mean much greater efficiency, Coors said, something he expects to benefit the business and the environment. When it’s all said and done, G150 should mean 25% less beer waste and 15% less energy usage on an annual basis. Water usage at the plant should decrease by 100 million gallons per year.
“That leaves a lot more water in the aquifer, in Clear Creek and available for Colorado and down-river communities Nebraska and beyond,” Coors said.
A big reason Molson Coors relocated to Chicago was more abundant of marketing talent there compared to Colorado, professionals who specialize in developing new products. As reflected by the “beverage company” portion of its name, Molson Coors is looking beyond beer when it comes to its corporate future.
For now, the Golden brewery’s upgrade is set up so that it will continue only to produce beers like Coors Banquet, Miller Genuine Draft, Blue Moon White and other well-known brands but it will have the capability to be retrofitted to make hard seltzers, Coors said.
“Things like Coors seltzer, that technology is not part of this project but it will enable us to add that capability in the future,” Coors said.
The plant can make between 11 and 12 million barrels of beer a year, a cap brought on by the capacity of its packaging operation. That will not change after the overhaul is done, Coors said. As for what new, more efficient infrastructure will mean for the hundreds of people who work in the fabled plant, Coors said that hasn’t come up in internal discussions.
“We have not talked about what labor needs are going to be going forward even internally,” Coors said.
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