Editorial: Quaff more economic growth

Attractions like Great Sand Dunes National Park, two or three scenic railroads, a world-class repertory theatre, Stations of the Cross and many other amenities have long made the San Luis Valley a destination for visitors from across the state, country and abroad.

We believe that within the next year, the SLV will also become a target for lovers of craft beer.

Kudos to Colorado Malting Company and the soon-to-open Square Peg for their announcements this week that the valley will eventually be home to at least four purveyors of craft beer. The two will join longtime microbrewers San Luis Valley Brewing Company in Alamosa and 3 Barrel Brewing in Del Norte.

Add to that the addition of Proximity Malt’s large scale malting operation just outside Monte Vista and beer is quickly becoming a major driver of economic development in the SLV.

All three new operations will provide jobs aside from bringing in fans of craft beer. Also impacting the local economy is the annual Rails and Ales event on the SLV Scenic Railroad, and plans are progressing for a possible Oktoberfest-themed beer fest sponsored by the Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce.

With about 300 breweries across the state, most of which are on the Front Range, Colorado continues to be a target of beer fans. The addition of the tasting rooms at Square Peg and later this fall at Colorado Malting should continue to put the SLV on the map of malt beverage connoisseurs.

Congrats to Derek Heersink and Mark Martinez on their development of Square Peg, just a few doors down from SLV Brewing, and to the Cody family who started Colorado Malting in 2007 using barley and other grains produced in the Valley.

Both Colorado Malting and Proximity Malt will provide malt to local brewers as well as those across the nation.

It’s just another example of “value added” agriculture happening right under our noses. In the future, hemp (not marijuana) and its many bi-products should blossom here (pun intended), and craft distillers shouldn’t be far behind. A distiller in Durango is already using Colorado Malting grain for its craft vodka, and vodka has long been a potential product here as well whether made from potatoes or grain.

We as a community need to get behind and support these new ventures as we welcome the economic growth they will bring.