Our Story

Prost Weissbier

Prost Weissbier
Gold Medal Winner 2015 GABF
South German-Style Hefeweizen

Prost Keller-Pils

Prost Keller-Pils
Gold Medal Winner 2013 GABF
Keller/Zwickel-Style Keller-Pills

Prost Weissbier

Prost Weissbier
Silver Medal Winner 2016 GABF
South German-Style Hefeweizen

Our Story

Timeline

  • 1842

    1842

    Johann Wagner brews the first lager bier in the US
  • 2011

    2011

    Chance meeting/beer drinking session launches Prost Brewing
  • 2011

    2011

    Prost founders travel to Germany to the Brauerei Hümmer brewery, which had been serving beer since 1642 to purchase and ship a copper brewing system.
  • 2012

    2012

    Prost Brewing Company opens in Lower Highlands neighborhood at the crossroads of I25 & 20th Street in Denver as the only exclusively lager brewery in Colorado
  • 2012

    2012

    Prost starts self-distributing growlers of the core beers and seasonals and kegs to local stores and bars.
  • 2013

    2013

    Prost’s Keller PILS wins a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival
  • 2014

    2014

    Prost becomes part of the Coors distribution network, enabling more inventory to be delivered to more outlets
  • 2014

    2014

    Prost bier becomes available in bottles
  • 2015

    2015

    Prost’s Weissbier wins a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival
  • 2015

    Prost’s Weissbier wins a silver medal at the All Colorado Beer Festival
  • 2016

    2016

    Silver Medal Winner at the Great American Beer Festival for our Weissbier
  • 2016

    2016

    Prost brewery is triple the size from inception
  • 2016

    2016

    Prost opens in Ft. Collins
 

The Prost Story

It was a chance meeting between restaurant veterans Troy Johnston and Kevin Sheesley and experienced engineer Barry Van Everen at a bar next door to a former Denver brewery that began the Prost story. While the building in question had already been sold, the idea of creating something entirely exceptional to Colorado’s pub landscape and wholly authentic to the beer drinking experience began to ferment. What resulted was a premium craft brewery, specializing in authentic German lager style beer – Prost Brewing.

The team wanted to create something unique, and built a brewery and gathering place that specialized in crafting German lagers, with German ingredients in German glassware. Prost, which is German for “Cheers!” is about session beers – drinks that are meant to be enjoyed over an extended period – during lunch or dinner, with friends, family and business associates. Lagers are about social drinking, being productive and taking care of business.

The team headed to Breitengüßbach, Germany to visit the Brauerei Hümmer brewery, which had been serving beer since 1642, and was closing its doors.  Its copper brewing equipment, which had been built in 1963, made several styles of beer, including Altfränkisches Dunkel Bier, a rare specialty beer that Prost has revived.

Custom boxes were built to ship the massive kettles, burners, pumps, scales, distillers and mills to Denver, CO – and then broken down to fashion Prost’s walls, forms and fence railings. The Prost building header even had to be removed to get the equipment into the space, located in Denver’s lower Highlands neighborhood. Patrons can also view some of the retired brewing equipment in the tasting room’s “equipment museum,” including a scale from 1883, that was used until 2015.

Today, Prost is an award-winning brewery, and continues to use authentic 100% German products – grains, yeasts and hops, which are delivered from overseas. Passionate about their lager, everyone at Prost can articulate every step and every ingredient of the process. The brewery produces about 8,000 barrels of beer annually, sold at more than 1,000 locations, including bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Wisconsin. They have two tasting rooms in Denver and Ft. Collins, CO.

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Awards

Silver Medal Winner at the Great American Beer Festival for our Weissbier, 2016

10 Best Breweries in Denver, CultureUp.com, 2016

100 Best Beers in the World for our Maibock, Men’s Journal, 2016

Gold Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival for our Weissbier, 2015

Gold Medal Winner at the All Colorado Beer Festival for our Weissbier, 2015

Gold Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival for our Keller-Zwickel, 2013

Best New Tap Room, Westword, 2013

100 Best Beers in the World for our Altfränkisches Dunkel Bier, Men’s Journal, 2012

   

The History of Lager Beer in the US

The history of lager beer in the United States starts in 1842 with Johann Wagner who is most credited with brewing the first lager. At that time, Americans did not drink very much beer – only one gallon per capita.

This is not to say that Americans didn’t drink! We just didn’t have much taste for the era’s prevalent beer styles – ales, porters and stouts – so rye whiskey was the drink of the day. In 1820, there were more than 14,000 distilleries (spirits) and only 230 breweries (beer), and America was gaining the reputation of a land of drunkenness.

Every occasion, from breakfast to dinner, births to funerals, weddings to barn-raisings, afforded the opportunity to break out copious amounts of whiskey. Americans’ appetite for spirits stupefied and astounded foreigners.

By the 19th century, distillers were producing some 25 million gallons of whiskey each year, or seven to eight gallons per capita. Only a mere 200 or so breweries produced English-style ale.[1]

With lager bier’s introduction, consumption habits began to change. Lager traits seemed well-fitted to the American climate and character. A cold lager was perfect for the heat of American summers, and it further complemented the practice of overconsumption, as a person could more easily down a great quantity of lager than ale. It was one of the several external factors that was shaping the future of American beer.[2]

From 1845 to 1920 – just before prohibition – Americans went from one gallon of beer consumed per capita to just under 20. Almost all the breweries were making lager bier, and most of the ale breweries went out of business.

Lager & Politics

Prior to 1854, US’ two major political parties were the Whigs and the Democrats. The Whigs hated slavery and immigrants, but loved prohibition, a combination that repelled German and Irish voters. The Democrats welcomed immigrants and lager lovers alike; unfortunately, they also supported slavery, and men like Phillip Best (German founder of Pabst) had not fled Europe’s oppression to join hands with politicians who ignored the distinction between free labor and slavery.

In 1854, a group of Wisconsin men started the Republican Party to fight slavery and reject prohibition. When prohibitionists tried to gain a foothold in the Republican Party, a Milwaukee man said, “Nearly all the Germans of this city were prepared to cast their lot against slavery and with the new party, but they refused to bow to the dictates of fanatic and zealous temperance men. Can you expect of a brewer that he will tear down with his own hands his brewery? Or ask a laborer after a hard day’s work paving your streets to throw away his wholesome and nourishing lager beer, and sacrifice his comfort for the sake of restricting slavery?”[4]

Lager & Prohibition (the first one)

In 1851, the Maine Law was passed prohibiting the manufacturing, distribution, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. In 11 of the 31 states and two territories, similar laws were passed as the temperance movement gained momentum. Violence broke out as the laws seemed to disproportionately target German and Irish saloons. In 1855, after several tavern owners were arrested for selling beer on Sunday, protesters clashed with police in Chicago.  The Lager Beer Riot ended with violence, 60 arrests and one death, causing many to wonder which was worse: death or drunkenness. inebriation

The answer lay close at hand: lager. Weary of the temperance movement and the conflict that it sparked, native-born Americans latched onto lager and the German model of sociable drinking as a compromise that allowed them to avoid the two extremes of prohibition and intoxication. [5]

Lager & Taxation

America needed to raise money to support the war, and in 1862, President Lincoln signed the first excise tax on liquor. Many recorded conversations stemming from the new tax indicated that many viewed lager beer as being special and separate.

The first ever trade association was the United States Brewers Association (USBA), established to proactively guide how taxes would be measured and collected. The brewers claimed they were willing to pay taxes and that they had founded their organization in part to prevent fraud and non-compliance. And while they obeyed the law, they certainly felt that cooperation gave them the right to conduct their business without interference, maintaining that their industrial practices could not be easily explained or understood by those not directly involved in the manufacture of beer. As a result, they felt that local revenue officials should treat them with a degree of respect and understanding that might not always correspond to the letter of the law. [6]

In addition, many people believed that lager beer was the answer to the temperance movement and that by incenting Americans to drink the non-intoxicating lager, beer prohibition could be avoided.

German brewers often described their product as special and different, not only from whiskey, but from other malt beverages as well. Several members of the House also saw lager beer in this light and sought to have the tax reduced. John B Steele (D., NY) desired to “reduce the tax on those fermented liquors that have not the intoxicating effect which strong liquors have. Of all of them, lager beer is the least intoxicating.”[7]

Lager & the Military

This was a (Civil) war fought with beer. Military commanders banned most beer and liquor from camp and field, but allowed lager as the troops’ choice of drink. Military supply clerks contracted with hundreds of brewers to supply men with lager, which traveled better and lasted longer than ale. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers forged friendships and built camaraderie over tin cups of lager, an experience they carried home when the war ended.

Lager even received a stamp of approval from the United States Sanitary Commission, a civilian organization that monitored troops health. A USSC physician who studied camp diets reported that lager drinkers suffered less from diarrhea than did non-beer drinkers. Lager, he noted “regulates the bowels, prevents constipation, and becomes in this way, a valuable substitute for vegetables” (a food in short supply). “I encourage all the men,” added the doctor, “to drink lager.” [8]

Lager & Baseball

In 1882, base ball (two words back then) was in trouble. The puritanical president of the league had banned beer sales on Sunday games and increased tickets to $.50, all in an effort to attract a better class of fans.

A cadre of German immigrants who were brewers and team owners started what became the National League (originally, called the American Association), selling beer at the parks and holding games on Sunday. This league wanted to cater to all Americans and sold their tickets for $.25. The American Association flourished. [9]

The Future of Lager

As Walter König, one of the general managers of the Bavarian Brewers Federation, pointed out during his visit to the 2010 Craft Brewers Conference in Chicago, “If American craft brewers want to reach more than four or five percent market share, they need to focus more on drinkability, not just on extreme experimentation.

German beers, especially lagers, are sometimes derided by American craft brewers because they are deemed too unremarkable. However, these are beers that are suitable for quaffing when you are thirsty. In America, it seems, if you want to sit down and have a long social evening with friends over a few beers, you need to drink an industrial, not a craft beer.

In my view, with very few exceptions, German lagers are not all that well made in America as yet, probably because many single-infusion systems won’t permit it. If American craft brewers want to grow, however, they might want to consider making more and better craft lagers, and with the growing sophistication of American brewers, I see a real growth potential there.”

At Prost Brewing Company, we are passionate about our lagers, which are made exclusively with German ingredients, shipped from overseas, using German processes and sipped from German glassware. We make session beers, designed to be enjoyed over an extended period with friends and family. Our brewing equipment was purchased from a German brewery that had been serving lager since 1642.

Our goal is to foster the splendor and taste of a truly well-made German lager that encourages our customers to sit down with friends, unrushed, uninterrupted, to sip flavorful beers that quench your thirst for drink and camaraderie.

 

Footnotes
[1] Ambitious Brew, pg. 23
[2] Beer in American, pg. 271
[3] Brewing Battles, pg. 39
[4] Ambitious Brew, pg. 29
[5] Ambitious Brew, pg. 30
[6] Brewing Battles, pg. 37
[7] Brewing Battles, pg 25
[8] Ambitious Brew, pg. 44
[9] The Summer of Beer and Whiskey – How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game.

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