Bristol Brewing - CSPM

Bristol Brewing

Cheers to Mike and Amanda Bristol for the leap of faith they took in 1994. The couple moved from Florida to Colorado Springs, opening Bristol Brewing in an industrial park off Garden of the Gods Road. In 2013, they moved into the Ivywild School, part of a $4 million dollar project reimagining the once vacant historic building. Along the way, Bristol Brewing excelled at creating loyal customers and iconic branding images like those seen here. Speaking about their success, Mike Bristol mused, “We never envisioned Bristol Brewing becoming this. Our goal was to be able to make a living doing this and raise our kids here…”

– From the CSPM Curator of History

Bristol Brewing Company started, as many good things do, over a beer.

In 1992, Mike Bristol and Amanda Townsend were both living in North Florida. They were dating, but perhaps more important to this story, they were also homebrewing. The beer they were making was surprisingly good, so one night they sat at the bar of a cafe and dreamed about how they might turn this brewing hobby into a life together. That night they shared a few beers and sorted out their future on the backs of three coasters, and the idea of Bristol Brewing was born.

But where to start this new phase of life? Mike grew up in Fort Collins; Amanda was a Florida native. Small breweries had been springing up like wildflowers in Colorado, so they knew the beer-drinking public there would be open to craft beer. But Fort Collins already had several breweries, and Denver felt like too big a city for them to raise a family and contribute to the community. Colorado Springs, however, was not too big, not too small, had a charming downtown and a beautiful backyard. It was the perfect place to put down roots.

They got married, and six months later in 1994 opened their brewery just off Garden of the Gods Road. Mike brewed the beer and sold it to local establishments, while Amanda created the marketing and filled growlers at the brewery. If you stopped in, you would be greeted by their small lab, Camden, and Amanda would pour you free samples.

At that point, there were about 35 breweries in the state of Colorado. Now there are over 400.

In 1998 Bristol Brewing moved to Tejon Street where there was room for a bottling line, which allowed their beers to be sold in six packs for the first time. They also put in a few tables and chairs and served pints with dog bowls full of free pretzels–and in so doing, created the first brewery tasting room in Colorado. Bristol spent the next 12 years welcoming customers and exploring innovative beer styles. And they made giving back a priority, through beer donations, Karma Hour, and donating the profits from their Community Ales to local nonprofits.

When Bristol started to outgrow that space, they partnered with Joseph Coleman and together convinced the District 11 School Board that it was socially acceptable to put a brewery in a school. The partners purchased the historic Ivywild School building, restored it as a community gathering place, and in 2013 Ivywild School became the current home of the brewery and the Bristol Pub.

Generously Submitted by Amanda Bristol, Bristol Brewing Company

Collection Gallery

Additional Sources: