Coors Brewing Company

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Coors Brewing Company
Industry Beverages
Founded 1873, 146 years ago
Founder Adolph Coors
and Jacob Schueler
Headquarters Golden, Colorado, U.S.
Area served
North America, United Kingdom, and Ireland
Key people
Leo Kiely
and Peter Swinburn
Products Beers
Revenue $5 billion U.S. in sales
Parent Molson Coors Brewing Company

The Coors Brewing Company is a regional division of the world's seventh-largest[1] brewing company, the Molson Coors Brewing Company. The operations in the US are now part of the joint venture with SABMiller called MillerCoors.[2] Coors operates a brewery in Golden, Colorado, that is the largest single brewery facility in the world.[3]



In 1873, German immigrants Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler established a brewery in Golden Colorado, after buying a recipe for a Pilsner-style beer from a Czech immigrant William Silhan.[4]

Coors invested $2,000 in the operation, and Schueler invested $18,000.

In 1880, Coors bought out his partner and became sole owner of the brewery.


Ad for Coors Malted Milk, produced in 1918.

The Coors Brewing Company managed to survive Prohibition relatively intact. Years before the Volstead Act went into effect nationwide, Adolph Coors with sons Adolph Jr., Grover, and Herman established the Adolph Coors Brewing and Manufacturing Company, which included Herold Porcelain and other ventures. The brewery itself was converted into a malted milk and near beer production facility. Coors sold much of the malted milk to the Mars candy company for the production of sweets. Manna, the company's non-alcoholic beer replacement, was a near beer which is similar to current non-alcoholic beverages. However, Coors and his sons relied heavily on the porcelain company as well as a cement and real estate company to keep the Coors Brewing Company afloat. By 1933, after the end of Prohibition, the Coors brewery was one of only a handful of breweries that had survived.

All of the 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.[5]


For much of its history, Coors beer was a regional product and its marketing area was confined to the American West.[6][7][8] While California and Texas were part of the 11-state distribution area, Washington and Montana were not added until 1976 [6][9] (& Oregon did not approve sales in grocery stores until 1985).[10][11][12][13] This gave it mystique and made it a novelty, particularly on the East Coast,[14][15] and visitors returning from the western states often brought back a case.[16] This iconic status was reflected in the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit, which centered around an illegal shipment of Coors from Texas to Georgia. The company finally established nationwide distribution in the United States in the mid-1980s.[17]

In 1959, Coors became the first American brewer to use an all-aluminum two-piece beverage can.[3] Also in 1959, the company abandoned pasteurization and began to use sterile filtration to stabilize its beer.[3][14] Coors currently operates the largest aluminum can producing plant in the world, known as the Rocky Mountain Metal Container (RMMC), in Golden. RMMC is a joint venture between Ball Metal and Coors, having been founded in 2003.

In the 1970s, Coors invented the litter-free push tab can,[14] in place of the ring pull-tab.[18][19] However, consumers disliked the top and it was discontinued soon afterward.

Coors Light was introduced in 1978.[3] The longtime slogan of "Silver Bullet" to describe it does not describe the beer, but rather the silver-colored can in which the beer is packaged. Coors Light was once produced in "yellow-bellied" cans like the full-strength Coors, but when the yellow coloring was removed and the can was left mostly silver, many dubbed the beer the "Silver Bullet".

Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado
Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado
Coors (formerly Bass) brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, UK
Coors brewery in Alton, Hampshire, UK, which closed in 2015[20]


In 2005, Coors was rated the third largest producer of beer in the United States, and the second largest brewer in the United Kingdom through its subsidiary, Coors Brewers Limited.[21]

On July 22, 2004, the company announced it would be merging with Canadian brewer Molson. The merger was completed February 9, 2005, with the merged company being named Molson Coors Brewing Company.

Shenandoah expansion

In August 2004, the Coors Brewing Company announced plans to add brewing capacity to the Shenandoah beer packaging facility in Elkton, Virginia by early 2007.[22] Coors officials stated that this would "bring brewing capacity much closer to our important East Coast markets and distributors."[23]

Labor issues

In April 1977, the brewery workers union at Coors, representing 1,472 employees, went 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.[24] About 700 workers quit the picket line to go back to work, and Coors replaced the remaining 500 workers, keeping the beer production process uninterrupted.[25] In December 1978, the workers at Coors voted by greater than a two-to-one ratio 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.[26]

Labor unions organized a boycott to punish Coors for its labor practices.[27] One tactic employed by the unions was a push for states to pass laws banning the sale of unpasteurized canned and bottled beer.[28] Because Coors was the only major brewer at the time not pasteurizing its canned and bottled beer, such laws would hurt only Coors.[29] Sales of Coors suffered during the decade-long labor union boycott, although Coors stated that 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.[30] This was completed in 1991 with Indiana being the last state for the brand to appear.[31]

The AFL-CIO ended its boycott of Coors in August 1987, after negotiations with Pete Coors, head of brewery operations. The details of the settlement 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.[32]

In 1988, the Teamsters Union, which represented brewery workers at the top three US beer makers at the time (Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Stroh), gained enough signatures to trigger a union representation election inside the Coors company. Coors workers again rejected union representation by more than a two-to-one ratio.[33]

Minority issues

A federal lawsuit in 1975 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission[34] ended in a settlement with Coors agreeing not to discriminate against blacks, Hispanics, and women.[35]

In 1977, Coors was accused of firing gay and lesbian employees.[36] Coors encouraged the organization of its gay and lesbian employees into the Lesbian and Gay Employee Resource (LAGER) in 1993.[37] In May 1995, Coors became the 21st publicly traded corporation in the United States to extend employee benefits to same-sex partners.[38] When company chairman Pete Coors was criticized for the company's gay-friendly policy during his 2004 Republican primary campaign for a United States Senate seat from Colorado, he defended the policy as a basic good business practice.[39]

Political influence

According to Russ Bellant Coors family members have played a prominent role in American politics and public policy, supporting many conservative causes. Such causes included providing a $250,000 grant in 1973 to found The Heritage Foundation,[40] an influential conservative think tank, and, via its parent company, the right-leaning think tank American Enterprise Institute.

Chairman Pete Coors ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate from Colorado in 2004 on the Republican ticket.


Coors is responsible for over twenty different brands of beer[41] in North America. The most notable of those brands are Coors, Killian's, Caffrey's, and Blue Moon.

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.[2]

Business names

  • 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 (2005–2008, parent company of CBC)
  • MillerCoors (2008 to present, a joint venture)
  • Rocky Mountain Metal Container (2003 to present). A joint venture in aluminum can production with Ball Metal and Coors.



Coors sponsored Premiership side Chelsea from 1994 to 1997. The last competitive game that the club wore shirts bearing Coors as sponsors was the 1997 FA Cup Final in which they beat Middlesbrough 2-0 to end their 26-year wait for a major trophy.

Current affiliate Carling was title sponsor of the Premier League from 1993 to 2001 and since 2003 has sponsored the Football League Cup. The two brands are also former sponsors of Rangers and Celtic. The clubs have worn strips with Coors Light logos for exhibitions in North America, while elsewhere the strips promoted Carling, which is not offered in the United States.

Coors is also the official beer sponsor of NASCAR and formerly the NFL until Bud Light replaced it in 2011.[42] In addition to its official NASCAR sponsorship, Coors Light has regularly sponsored cars in the series. They sponsored Melling Racing, Team SABCO, and most recently Chip Ganassi Racing. Drivers to have Coors backing have included Bill Elliott, who won the Winston Million in 1985 and the 1988 Winston Cup Championship, Robby Gordon, Sterling Marlin, Kyle Petty, David Stremme and Regan Smith. Coors is the title sponsor of the pole award in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.[43] Coors stopped sponsoring a stock car in 2008.

Coors and/or Molson are beer sponsors of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks 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.[44]

Coors is also the official beer of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).[45]

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

The Coors Events Center on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder in Boulder, Colorado is named after the company.

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

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 (late 1980s to mid-1990s) and the sponsor for US cycling event the Coors Classic, which ran from 1980 to 1988.

Coors is a sponsor of English Rugby Union team Gloucester. Coincidentally, 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 is featured on the team's jerseys.

See also


  1. Robin Turner (June 7, 2012). "Welsh brewer Peter Swinburn leads Molson Coors' 'risky' $US3.5bn acquisition". Media Wales Ltd. Retrieved September 27, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Miller, Coors double-team Bud - New venture, to be called MillerCoors, will take on industry-leader Anheuser-Busch, which owns Budweiser". CNN. October 9, 2007. Archived from the original on November 3, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Garrett Oliver (9 September 2011). The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press. p. 266. ISBN 978-0-19-536713-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Beer Here! A Local History of Brewing at History Colorado". History Colorado. December 12, 2014. Retrieved 2015-06-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "History of CoorsTek". Retrieved 2009-05-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Brewer plans Spokane plant". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. December 27, 1975. p. 3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Coors plans beer sales expansion". Lawrence Journal-World. Kansas. Associated Press. August 2, 1977. p. 8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Stahlberg, Mike (December 1, 1978). "Beer keeps its cool but raises hot issue". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 1B.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Lazurus, George (September 28, 1976). "Coor's beer adds two more states to market area". Toledo Blade. Ohio. KNS. p. 31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Alas, another Coors tale". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. (editorial). October 2, 1984. p. 10A.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Coors steps up Oregon sales effort". Ellensburg Daily Record. Washington. UPI. October 5, 1984. p. 9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Mills, Dennis (August 14, 1975). "Cold Coors arrives from craggy Rockies". Bangor Daily News. Maine. p. 21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Greene, Bob (June 22, 1977). "The strange case of the Coors beer". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Field Newspaper Syndicate. p. 2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Coors has mystique". Lakeland Ledger. Florida. (New York Times). March 12, 1975. p. 7B.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Gallagher, Jim (April 5, 1988). "Coors goes after more Pennsylvania beer drinkers". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  19. Hayes, Paul G. (October 19, 1977). "Poptop cans will lose their pull, expert says". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  23. Coors to build brewery at Shenandoah, Modern Brewery Age. January 9, 2010. [1][dead link]
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  25. Dana Parsons, Why did strikers return?, Denver Post, 3 October 1979, p,3.
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  29. Bill before Missouri legislature would ban Coors, Denver Post, 2 November 1984.
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  34. Lichtenstein, Grace (December 28, 1975). "Is it beer or 'Colorado Kool-Aid'?". Lakeland Ledger. Florida. (New York Times). p. 7D.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  36. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
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  38. Michael Booth, Coors adds 'partners' to benefits, Denver Post, 8 July 1995, p.1A.
  39. John C. Green, Mark J. Rozell, Clyde Wilcox, The Values Campaign? Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, p.185.
  40. Russ Bellant, The Coors Connection: How Coors Family Philanthropy Undermines Democratic Pluralism, Political Research Associates, 1990, p. 21
  41. Coors Brewing Company (MolsonCoors)
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  44. "Article". Retrieved 2012-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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

External links