Bonfire Brewing co-founder Andy Jessen among backcountry skiers killed in Ophir Pass avalanche

Colorado’s craft beer community is mourning its second loss in just three months following Bonfire Brewing co-founder Andy Jessen’s death Monday in a backcountry avalanche.

Search and rescue teams on Wednesday found the bodies of Jessen and fellow Eagle residents Seth Bossung and Adam Palmer buried underneath more than 20 feet of snow and avalanche debris near Silverton. 

All three men had worked in local government — Jessen as mayor pro tem of the Eagle Town Council, Palmer as sustainable communities director for Eagle County and Bossung as an energy efficiency project manager with the county.

Jessen also worked as a community leader in another way, through his role as co-founder and owner of the 11-year-old Bonfire Brewing.

“Among so many other roles, Andy is a steward for conservation, an ambassador of our town, a people-focused leader, an engaged friend and family member, the proudest of dog dads and the sincerest of partners to the love of his life, Amanda,” read a description on a GoFundMe page started Wednesday in Jessen’s honor.

By Thursday, more than $42,000 had been raised for Jessen’s wife and Bonfire co-owner, Amanda. Similar fundraisers were created for the families of Bossung and Palmer.

“We know in our hearts that Andy would want you here at Bonfire, gathered round for a beer,” the brewery’s Facebook page read Wednesday. “We also know how much you all want to help, so we set up this GoFundMe page in his honor. You have our word that we’ll put your donations right back here in the community that Andy loved.”

Jessen founded Bonfire Brewing in 2010 and celebrated the brewery’s 10th anniversary this past November. By the end of January, Jessen told Rad Craft, a craft beer communications co-op, that he was proud to have kept his entire staff throughout the pandemic.

“We fully employed everyone throughout the year by pivoting and adapting to every obstacle thrown our way,” Jessen said then. “[I]t took years to put this talented team together, and one of our biggest fears at the outset of the pandemic was the chance we might lose that. Being able to keep the team intact is something we’re very grateful for.”

In November, the Colorado beer community lost another prominent figure when Jason Buehler, head brewer of Denver Beer Co., died in a rock climbing accident at Maroon Bells.

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