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Wyoming breweries enjoy boost from eclipse crowds

Wyoming breweries enjoy boost from eclipse crowds

Eclipse Sunday

Eclipse festival goers fill Frontier Brewing Company on Sunday in downtown Casper. The new brewery was pouring Black Tooth beers during the weekend festival. 

Hungry patrons at The Gaslight Social awaited their food among a bustling crowd during the Sunday lunch hour. Arriving customers stared up at the list of beers on top. Blacktooth Brewing Co. of Sheridan was listed eight times.

Blacktooth began its "tap takeover" at The Gaslight Social on Friday, one of several Wyoming breweries looking to capitalize on increased businesses generated by the eclipse.

"It’s pretty difficult because it is more in the distributors' hands because they have to forecast what sales will be," Blacktooth Inside Sales Manager Brandon Penrose said. "It's hard to gauge because it hasn’t happened before."

Penrose said Blacktooth's sales have increased by roughly 25 percent among their usual distributors along the eclipse's line of totality. He also anticipated being in frequent communication with those distributors throughout the weekend.

Meanwhile, Backwards Distilling Company in Mills has capitalized on their location and presence near the downtown festival.

Before the weekend even began Backwards released a special eclipse-themed vodka, which has been well received.

"We sold a lot of that it even surprised us," owner Amber Pollack said. "What we had anticipated, we sold that in the first two days then had to double."

Backwards has had to increase its number of tours because of popular demand. Typically, they host just five tours per week. During the eclipse festivities, they have been mostly booked to capacity for one tour each hour during the weekend. They also hosted a watch party for the actual eclipse behind their establishment, which was sold out in advance.

Also hosting brewery tours is Snake River Brewing Company in Jackson Hole, which spent months preparing for the weekend.

"In the summer we’re running at a pretty high capacity as it is, so what we try to do is get distributors to load up over the last couple months," Director of Sales Derek Beardsley said. "Our turnaround is pretty quick but right now we’re pushed pretty heavy."

Snake River also brewed a special eclipse beer that was limited to 2,500 cases for distribution, which has sold out. 

Lander Brewing Company and Ten Sleep Brewing have each done something similar. Lander has offered Dark Side of the Sun, their limited release porter, while Ten Sleep has began offering a stout called Total Blackout.

Business has increased for both by 50 percent and Ten Sleep has been brewing to capacity for the last week. Ten Sleep has also began offering RV camping areas in the field outside of the brewery.

But not all breweries are enjoying an uptick in business.

Headstrong Brewing in Douglas prepared for the eclipse crowd, in addition to the current Wyoming State Fair crowd, with a free hog roast and live music on Thursday night and made just $700 in sales.

"I don’t think I’ve ever prepared so much for anything in my life and I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t come through," owner and manager John Hunt said.

While lines at gas stations and grocery stores have been noticeable, that crowd hasn't frequented businesses.

As more and more tourists flock to Wyoming for a glimpse at the eclipse, Hunt still holds out hope that their fortunes may turn closer to what their counterparts have experienced.

"We're still holding faith," he said. "We’ll keep trying."

Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @Brady_CST


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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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