Wyoming's Craft Beer Boom

by Taylor Viydo, tviydo@k2tv.com 
Times are good for craft beer drinkers in the Cowboy State. Wyoming is currently experiencing what some would call a "craft beer boom." 
In recent years and even months, several new breweries have been popping up across the state. One of those breweries is Buffalo's Clear Creek Brewing Company. Since opening in September 2012, Clear Creek has become a mainstay of Main Street in Buffalo. 
"We're exceeding all expectations and it's doing well," says Clear Creek brewer Chris Jones. Jones and partners Mike Engling and Rob McCorkle started construction on the brewery just over a year ago. The small craft beer operation is now on pace to brew between 400-600 barrels of beer a year. 
Ask any local, and they'll tell you that Clear Creek has been pretty popular since day one. "They were running out of my favorite beer," said one local man enjoying a Tackle Box Wheat Ale. "Everything has been great. Everybody seems to love us and appreciates what we've done here," added Jones. 
Clear Creek Brewing Company isn't entirely unique, though - It's part of a nationwide craft beer boom that seems to know no limits. 
According to the Brewers Association, Wyoming's craft beer production grew over 32% between 2011-2012. Nationwide, the craft beer industry grew 15% by volume during that same time period. The industry also grew 17% in terms of dollars. 
Wyoming is currently home to 15 craft breweries. Since Clear Creek opened its doors last year, breweries in both Cody and Jackson have started making beer. In Jackson, the Q Roadhouse restaurant added a brewery and re-branded itself as "Roadhouse Brewing Co." In a similar situation, Cody's Terrace Restaurant added a microbrewery called Geyser Brewing Company. 
The craft beer boom is also extending well into Northeast Wyoming. In Gillette, Gillette Brewing Co. has a scheduled opening of July 5th and Prairie Fire Brewing Co. is set to open later in the month, according to the breweries' websites and Facebook pages. 
A brewery is also in the works for Douglas. Construction is underway on HeadStrong Brewing Co., according to the company's Facebook page. 
Even Casper will soon be home to another brewery. Partners Jack Miller, Dan Christensen, and Ernie Smith are the collective brewers behind Fat Canvas Brewing. The group is currently in the process of acquiring property in Casper's Old Yellowstone District. 
The brewers say they chose the name given the fact that they see themselves as "beer artists" so to speak. "Because there's so many different flavors, so many different varieties, Fat Canvas Brewing fits with what we're trying to do," said Christensen. 
Fat Canvas is still a work in progress, but they'll soon be one of the hundreds of new craft breweries in the US. "It seems like the boom is spreading like a wildfire," says Smith. 
In Buffalo meanwhile, that fire is certainly glowing bright. "We never imagined that it would go this far, as far as us. You don't think about that stuff, you just try and make something that's unique and cool and that people like," said Jones of Clear Creek's success. "But to be embraced by the state and be a part of such a big thing in the state that's just growing like crazy now is amazing."