Co-Founder Of Boulder Beer, Colorado’s First Microbrewery, Dies At 81

January 6, 2016
Photo: David Hummer, co-founder of Boulder Beer Company
David Hummer co-founded the Boulder Beer Company with Randolph "Stick" Ware in 1979.

Hummer, who held a doctorate in astrophysics, called starting Boulder Beer "the most irresponsible thing I ever did." 

His co-founder, Randolph "Stick" Ware, said in a remembrance that Hummer pioneered brewing techniques at a time when available ingredients were as inflexible as a "one-note piano." 

In his home kitchen, David crushed malted barley with a rolling pin, leaving the barley husks intact. His British-born wife Janet, a talented seamstress-artist, sewed a bridal-veil fabric into a shape that fit neatly into a 5 gallon Thermos cooler. They filled the cooler-bridal veil with 170 F water and stirred while adding crushed malted barley, resulting in a 150 F mash slurry.

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Appealing new taste dimensions were noted in homebrew passed around at an institute social gathering by brewing partner, Stick Ware, after applying David’s mashing method. A few days later, over brown bag lunch at the institute, a number of requests emerged for another taste of this new brew. This provoked Stick’s off-hand comment “we ought to start a brewery” and Boulder Beer was conceived -- now the oldest surviving American microbrewery.

When it opened, the company was the first craft brewery in the state and just the third in the country. Domestic beer at the time was largely limited to light lagers, Charlie Papazian, founder and president of the Brewers Association, told the Longmont Times-Call:

"There were the pioneers," Papazian recalled. "And before there were pioneers, there were explorers. That's what these guys were doing. They were stepping out into the twilight zone, not knowing were they were going."

The company was sold in 1989 but is still privately owned.

The brewery will be "raising a glass" to Hummer at a public memorial at its pub in Boulder Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m.

If You Go: 
The Pub at Boulder Beer Company
2880 Wilderness Place in Boulder
Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2 to 5 p.m.