Adam Avery, RC ’88
Avery Brewing, a household name in Colorado, turns 25 this year and the man behind the booming business is ready to celebrate. Adam Avery, RC ’88, believed in the craft beer movement back in the mid-1990s when a basic India pale ale (IPA) was considered too “bitter and weird.” Two and a half decades later, the IPA is the most popular selling beer style in the craft industry, and Avery Brewing Co. is an industry leader.
Tell us how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in Decatur, Illinois, and got the Colorado bug when I was young and climbing 14ers with my dad. I went to Catholic school my whole life and when it came time to choose a college, the nuns at my school recommended Regis. It was the only school I applied to — good thing I got in.
After college I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) and was rock climbing every day. I had hit a bit of a mid-20s crisis and wasn’t sure where to take my life. My boss at EMS told me about his home brew at a Super Bowl party and it was pretty good, so the next day I went out and bought myself a kit. I went berserk and brewed two or three batches at a time. I was giving it away to everyone I knew and only asked two things of them: that they give me honest feedback and to bring the bottle back to refill it.
My parents had recently moved to Boulder after retirement, and my dad and I went into business together to start Avery Brewing. I was a dumb 27 year old who thought he could succeed and here we are today.
Seriously, though. What’s the magic formula?
I made it up as I went! It’s so cliché, but if you are truly passionate and believe in what you are doing, you will be successful. I put as much energy as I could into differentiating myself and my business in the industry and accepted the fact that I had to try hard every single day.
I don’t have a lot of photos and I don’t dwell on things in the past. I live very much in the present. But if I sit down and think about my first Avery IPA, I remember thinking about how the first three beers I made were a snapshot of my life at the time: the Red Point Ale (red point is a rock-climbing term), Ellie’s Brown Ale (Ellie was my chocolate lab) and the Out of Bounds Stout (out of bounds is a skiing term).
I’ve always banked on the idea that people would want better-tasting beer, and that thought has been working to our advantage since the beginning.
How does your Regis education come into play?
Regis was the first place where free thinking was encouraged. I’m incredibly grateful for my Catholic schooling growing up — it grounded me. But those first few weeks on campus at Regis really opened my mind. I remember Father Binnell saying “you are your own person.” He taught me that this was my life and I should be empowered to make my own decisions wisely. Regis opened the door to other religions, political science, philosophy courses and freedom I needed as a young adult finding my way. I believe that is what education should be about, and Regis gave that to me.