DENVER (AP) — As part of its corporate farewell to Denver, Molson Coors Beverage Co. vowed last fall to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the company’s brewing plant in Golden, the second-largest beer-making facility in the world. Now the scope of that work is coming into focus, and heavy machinery is on the horizon in Jefferson County.

“Demolition activities will be starting relatively quickly,” Peter J. Coors, son of Molson Coors vice chairman and longtime face of Coors Brewing Pete Coors, told The Denver Post on Tuesday.

The younger Coors has been named the director of the G150 project, a name taken from the impending 150-year anniversary of family patriarch Adolph Coors launching a brewing company in Golden with fellow Prussian immigrant Jacob Schueler in 1873.

G150, scheduled to stretch into 2024, will completely overhaul the infrastructure between the company’s Golden brewhouse and the packaging facility at the massive plant. New, more-efficient fermenting, aging and filtration facilities will be built. The so-called “government cellars” where beer is stored prior to packaging will also be replaced with a state-of-the-art upgrade, Coors said. That building dates back to the 1950s.

“Obviously, we have made capital improvements of the course of the last 50, 60 years but all of those buildings were of that vintage,” he said. “It means a lot that Molson Coors is putting the money into the Golden brewery to set us up going forward.”

The existing fermenting, filtering and storage facilities aren’t being removed as part of the work, Coors said. Instead, they will be abandoned in place. The new tank farms coming as part of the project will be replacing surface parking lots and ponds on the property.

The big-time public commitment to Coors Brewing’s birthplace, production epicenter and symbolic home was made as the parent company, the now-named Molson Coors Beverage Co. was preparing to pull up stakes in Denver — and move or eliminate 300 jobs — and relocate headquarters to Chicago.

The Coors family was notably absent from news releases about the relocation and refused to say much about it in the aftermath. Peter J. Coors declined to put an exact price tag on the project he is leading, sticking with the “hundreds of millions” figure on the record since last year, but he said this work should set up the Golden plant, workplace for about 800 of Molson Coors’ 1,600 Golden-area employees, for “generations to come.”

The elder Pete Coors appeared at a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday afternoon. He reflected back to a time where his childhood home stood where the company’s industrial brewing buildings are today.

“(I have) special thoughts in my mind about the importance of this property, the importance of Golden and Jefferson County to our family and to our company,” he said.

New facilities will mean much greater efficiency, Peter J. Coors said, something he expects to benefit the business and the environment. When it’s all said and done, G150 should mean 25% less beer waste and 15% less energy usage on an annual basis. Water usage at the plant should decrease by 100 million gallons per year.

Golden Mayor Laura Weinberg lauded the focus on reducing energy and water usage at the plant through the project.

“The city of Golden is committed to a sustainable future and its wonderful to know that Molson Coors has that same commitment as well,” she said at the groundbreaking.

A big reason Molson Coors relocated to Chicago was more abundant marketing talent there compared to Colorado, professionals who specialize in developing new products. As reflected by the “beverage company” portion of its name, Molson Coors is looking beyond beer when it comes to its corporate future.

For now, the Golden brewery’s upgrade is set up so that it will continue only to produce beers like Coors Banquet Beer, Miller Genuine Lite, Blue Moon Belgian White and 22 other well-known brands, but it will have the capability to be retrofitted to make hard seltzers, Coors said.

“Things like Coors seltzer, that technology is not part of this project but it will enable us to add that capability in the future,” Coors said.

The plant can make between 11 and 12 million barrels of beer a year, a cap brought on by the capacity of its packaging operation. That will not change after the overhaul is done, Coors said. As for what new, more efficient infrastructure will mean for the hundreds of people who work in the fabled plant, Coors said that hasn’t come up in internal discussions.

“We have not talked about what labor needs are going to be going forward even internally,” Coors said.

While the project is underway, Coors expects between 450 to 500 construction workers to be on site just about every day. The company has picked Jacksonville, Fla.-based Haskell as its general contractor, but expects to find most of the subcontractors and materials in state, he said.

That influx of jobs, workers and the money they are expected to spend in the area while on the projects stands to make a big impact on Golden and Jefferson County businesses, particularly after a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic has battered those businesses and taxes revenues.

Lesley Dahlkemper, chair of the board of county commissioners, spoke to the importance of the project at a time of major economic struggle in her comments at Tuesday’s event.

“This project truly represents a very important step forward for Jefferson County,” she said.

Peter J. Coors said the project timing wasn’t influenced by the pandemic. The Golden brewery was in need of an upgrade. The company decided to invest in new infrastructure rather than bolstering old assets.

But for Betsy Markey, the head of the state’s office of economic development and international trade, Tuesday’s groundbreaking could not have come at a better time amid the pandemic and high unemployment.

“Obviously, we would have loved to see the executives stay in Denver, but we’re very happy with the multi-hundred million dollar investment that Molson Coors is making in Colorado and the great jobs it creates,” she said.

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