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The Coors Brewing Company is a regional division of the world's fifth-largest brewing company, the Molson Coors Brewing Company. According to the Molson-Coors website, the division is the third-largest brewer in the U.S. The brewery in Golden, Colorado is the world's largest on a single site.


In 1873, Germanmarker immigrants Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler, a successful Denver businessman, established a brewery in Golden, Coloradomarker. Coors invested $2,000 in the operation to Schueler's investment of $18,000. In 1880, Coors bought out his partner in "The Golden Brewery". The beer is said to take its flavor from the pure water of the Rocky Mountains.

In 1916, Colorado went dry with Prohibition. However, years before the Volstead Act went into effect nationwide, Adolph Coors with his sons Adolph Jr. and Grover and Herman had established the Adolph Coors Brewing and Manufacturing Company, which included the Herold Porcelain and other ventures. The brewery was converted into a malted milk and near beer venture. Coors sold much of the malted milk to the Mars candy company for the production of confection. Manna was a "near beer" which is like the non-alcoholic beverages of today. Coors relied on the porcelain company as well as a cement and real estate company to survive. In 1933, Coors was one of only a handful of breweries that survived Prohibition. Grover was responsible for the malted milk operation and Herman soon left Golden for Inglewood, Californiamarker to open the unrelated H.F. Coors Porcelain Company. Grover later was a sales official in the California region for the brewery. Non-brewery assets of the Adolph Coors Company were spun off between 1989 and 1992; the descendant of the original Herold Porcelain ceramics business continues to operate as CoorsTek.

According to the Coors website, Coors became the first American brewer to use an all-aluminum two-piece beverage can in 1959. Coors currently operates the largest aluminum can producing plant in the world in Golden Colorado, known as the Rocky Mountain Metal Container. RMMC is a joint venture between Ball Metal and Coors (2003-current). Bill Coors is the "Father of the Aluminum Beer Can." Coors invented the pollution free push tab can in the 1970s, however the consumer disliked the top and it was discontinued soon after. The long and current slogan of "Silver Bullet" to describe Coors Light is not for the beer, it is for the silver colored can the beer is packaged in. Coors Light was once produced in the yellow bellied cans like Coors Banquet; however, when the yellow was removed and the can was mostly silver, many dubbed the beer as "The Silver Bullet."

Many of Coors' slogans, including "Brewed With Rocky Mountain Spring Water," "America's Fine Light Beer," and "Banquet," are from the Post World War Two era. Currently Coors Banquet, the original Coors beer, is only brewed in Golden. Coors Light is the number one selling beer in the Molson-Coors profile and is a huge factor to the MillerCoors joint venture.

For much of its history, Coors beer was a regional product mostly confined to the American west by legal restrictions. This made it a novelty on the east coast, and visitors returning from visits to the western states often made a point of bringing back a case. This iconic status was reflected in pop culture: in 1977 the movie Smokey and the Bandit centered on an "illegal" shipment of Coors from Texasmarker to Georgiamarker. Boston Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski was such a big Coors fan that when he loaded up the team plane with multiple cases of Coors for the return trip to the East Coast, some of his teammates jokingly wondered if the plane would be able to successfully take off. The company finally established nationwide distribution in the U.S. in the early 1990s.

Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado
Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado
In 2003, Coors was the third largest producer of beer in the United States, and the second largest brewer in the United Kingdommarker through its subsidiary, Coors Brewers Limited. There it controls the UK's most popular brew, Carling, as the result of that brand's merger with Canadian brewer Molson in 1989.

On 22 July 2004 the company announced it would be merging with Molson. The merger was completed 9 February 2005 and the merged company is called Molson Coors Brewing Company. In August 2004, Coors Brewing Company announced plans to add brewing capacity to the Shenandoah beer packaging facility in Elkton, Virginiamarker, by early 2007. Coors officials stated that this would "bring brewing capacity much closer to our important East Coast markets and distributors."

The Coors family members have played a prominent role in American politics and public policy, supporting many conservative causes, including providing a $250,000 grant in 1973 to found The Heritage Foundation, one of the United States's most influential conservative public policy research institutes, and, via its parent company, the right-leaning think tank American Enterprise Institute. Chairman Pete Coors ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate from Coloradomarker in 2004 on the Republican ticket.

Labor issues

In April 1977, the brewery workers union at Coors, representing 1,472 employees, went out on strike. The brewery kept operating with supervisors and 250 to 300 union members, including one member of the union executive board, who ignored the strike. Soon after, Coors announced that it would hire replacements for the striking workers. About 700 workers quit the picket line to go back to work, and Coors replaced the remaining 500 workers, and kept making beer uninterrupted. In December 1978, the workers at Coors voted by greater than 2:1 to decertify the union, ending 44 years of union representation at Coors. Because the strike was by then more than a year old, striking workers could not vote in the election.

Labor unions organized a boycott to punish Coors for its labor practices. One tactic was to push for state laws to ban sales of unpasteurized canned and bottled beer. Because Coors was the only major brewer not pasteurizing its canned and bottled beer, such laws would hurt only Coors. Sales of Coors suffered during the 10-year labor union boycott, although Coors said the declining sales were also due to an industry-wide downturn in beer sales, and to increased competition. To maintain production, Coors expanded its sales area from the 18 western states to which it had marketed for years, to nationwide distribution.

The AFL-CIO ended its boycott of Coors in August 1987, after negotiations with Pete Coors, head of brewery operations. The details were not divulged, but were said to include an early union representation election in Colorado, and use of union workers to build the new Coors brewery in Virginia. In 1988, the Teamsters Union, which represented brewery workers at the top three U.S. beer makers at that time (Anheuser-Buschmarker, Miller, and Stroh), gained enough signatures to trigger a union representation election. Coors workers again rejected union representation by more than 2:1.

Minority issues

A federal lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1975 ended in a settlement with the company agreeing not to discriminate against blacks, Mexican-Americans, and women.

Coors encouraged the organization of its gay and lesbian employees into the Lesbian and Gay Employee Resource (LAGER) in 1993. In May 1995, Coors became the 21st publicly-traded corporation in the United States to extend employee benefits to same-sex partners. When company chairman Pete Coors was criticized for the company's gay-friendly policy during his 2004 Republican primary campaign for the US Senate from Colorado, he defended the policy as basic good business practice.

Product lines

United States

Coors Light ad on a Toronto building
Coors is responsible for over twenty different brands of beer in North America. The most notable of those brands are:
  • Coors, the "Banquet Beer", also known as "Coors Original", a 5% abv pale lager. This is the oldest brand in the Coors portfolio, first brewed in 1874, and has been given awards at World's Columbian Expositionmarker in 1893, and at the Great American Beer Festival in 2004.
  • Coors Light, the "Silver Bullet", a 4.2% abv beer first brewed in 1978 as a low calorie beer. It is Coors' top selling brand, and the third-best selling beer in the United Statesmarker. The beer is also quite popular in Irelandmarker, where it is available at most bars nationwide. It has won several medals for "American-Style Light Beer" at the Great American Beer Festival, and is the official beer sponsor of the NFL and the NFL Network. In 2006, a "frost brew liner", referring to the "Frost Brewed" branding, was introduced. Coors Light bottles and cans feature a cold temperature sensitive label using Chromazone ink. When the mountains on the label turn blue, the beer is at optimal drinking temperature.
A bottle of Killian's Irish Red.
  • Killian's Irish Red a 4.9% abv dark lager. Coors acquired the rights to brew and market the brand in America from France's Pelforth Brewery in 1981. It was then reformulated to a Vienna lager from the original Irish red ale recipe created at Lett's Brewery in Enniscorthymarker, Irelandmarker, in 1864.
  • Extra Gold is 5.0% abv American lager. Originally marketed as Coor's Extra Gold, it has a deeper color and fuller flavor than Coors, which the company claims comes from a slow brewing process.
  • Blue Moon (Witbier)- a Belgian style wheat ale, created in 1995. 5.4% abv. (made under Blue Moon Brewing Company label)

  • Keystone is a 4.8% abv pale lager introduced in 1989. The current slogan is "Always Smooth."
Keystone Light
  • Keystone Light is a 4.2% abv pale lager introduced in 1989. Packaged in "specially lined cans" intended to reduce metallic taste. The can is blue and silver and is narrower than a regular 12 ounce can of beer. An advertising campaign starring comedian Bob Marley claimed that Keystone Light relieved "Bitter Beer Face." The current advertising slogan is "Always Smooth, Even When You're Not."
  • Keystone Ice is packaged in black and silver cans. Keystone Ice is 5.9% abv and has 143 calories.

  • Zima XXX
  • Pale Moon (made under Blue Moon Brewing Company label)
  • Rising Moon (seasonal - spring) (made under Blue Moon Brewing Company label)
  • Honey Moon (seasonal - summer) (made under Blue Moon Brewing Company label)
  • Harvest Moon (seasonal - fall) (made under Blue Moon Brewing Company label)
  • Full Moon (seasonal - winter) (made under Blue Moon Brewing Company label)
  • Winterfest (seasonal - winter)
  • Wildwood Westlake lager
  • Coors NA (Coors Non-Alcoholic)

  • Aspen Edge
  • Blair's Barvarian Beer
  • Coors Malted Milk (non-alcoholic, formula later acquired by Mars Candy)
  • Coors Red Light
  • Coors Dry (western US only)
  • Coors Artic Ice
  • Coors Cutter (non-alcoholic) now Coors NA
  • Eisbock (seasonal - spring)
  • Golden Lager
  • Herman Joseph's 1868 (now relaunched by AC Golden Brewing Company as Herman Joseph's Private Reserve)
  • Oktoberfest (seasonal - fall)
  • Turbo 1000
  • Weizenbier (seasonal - summer)
  • Zima Gold
  • All Zima Products 2008


  • Allbright
  • Arc
  • Breaker
  • Caffrey's Irish Ale; (After Coors purchased Caffrey's from Interbrew, it ceased importation of the beer into the U.S. market. Coors decided that continued sale of Caffrey's in the U.S. market would interfere with branding of Killian's as Coors' premier Irish brew. Many Irish bars around the U.S. have Caffrey's paraphernalia but no longer can sell the beer. Coors' decision to sell Killian's over Caffrey's in the US market while removing the nitrogen charged Caffrey's allowed Diageo Guinness to gain marketshare with its Smithwick's brew in Irish bars throughout the U.S.).
  • Carling
Stones orange can

  • Reef
  • Screamers
  • Java (discontinued March 2004) was an alcopop range with five flavours; Purple, Ice, Tropical, Citrus and Sunfruit. A vodka mix of 4.0% vol.

Joint venture with SABMiller

On 9 October 2007, SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company announced a joint venture to be known as MillerCoors for their US operations that will market all of their products.

Business name

  • Schueler & Coors, Golden Brewery (1873–1880)
  • Adolph Coors, Golden Brewery (1880–1913)
  • Adolph Coors Co., Golden Brewery (1909–1913)
  • Adolph Coors Brewing and Malting Company, Golden Brewery (1913–1915)
  • Adolph Coors Company (1933–1989)
  • Coors Brewing Company (1989–2008)
  • Molson-Coors (2004–2008,Parent Company of CBC)
  • Miller-Coors (2008–present, Joint Venture)

  • Rocky Mountain Metal Container, 2003-Current-Joint Venture in aluminum can production with Ball Metal and Coors.



Coors sponsored Premiership side Chelsea FC 1994–1997, while current twin company Carling was title sponsor of the Premier League from 1993–2001 and since 2003 has sponsored the Football League Cup. The two brands also sponsor Rangers and Celtic. The clubs have worn uniforms with Coors Light logos for exhibitions in North America, while elsewhere the uniforms promote Carling, which is not offered in the U.S.

"Official" beer sponsor of the NFL and NASCAR.

Coors and/or Molson are beer sponsors of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes and all six Canadian teams. The company owns 20% of the Montreal Canadiens with the Molson family owning the other 80% having purchased the shares from Colorado's George Gillett in 2009[26878].

In addition to its official NASCAR sponsorship, Coors Light has regularly sponsored cars in the series, most recently for Dale Earnhardt Inc.. Drivers to have Coors backing have included David Stremme, Bill Elliott (Bill Elliott won the Winston Million in 1985 and the 1988 Winston Cup Championship), Robby Gordon, Sterling Marlin, Kyle Petty, and Regan Smith. Coors is the title sponsor of the pole award in the Nascar Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.

Coors holds the naming rights to Coors Fieldmarker in Denver, Coloradomarker, home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team.

The Coors Events Centermarker on the campus of the University of Colorado at Bouldermarker in Boulder, Coloradomarker is named after Coors.

The Coors Life Direction Center of Regis University is also named after Coors.

Coors has sponsored English rugby league side Workington Town from the 2007 season, as well as British Ice Hockey Team, The Belfast Giants.

Coors was the main sponsor for the Coors Cycling Team and the sponsor for the major Cycling Event the Coors Classic.

Coors is a sponsor of English Rugby Union team Gloucester, both Coors and Gloucester RFC were founded in 1873, Coors (through product line worthingtons) brews a special beer 'Kingsholm Ale' which is sold in the stadium. The Worthington logo features on the Gloucester uniform.

See also


Academic books

  • Baum, Dan. Citizen Coors: A Grand Family Saga of Business, Politics, and Beer. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. ISBN 0-688-15448-4

External links

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