Like many Colorado transplants, Jon Boling (01) went west with the intent of staying for a year or so, but never left. The mountains are riddled with folks who came for a ski season 20 years prior. The former Ole Miss rugby player fell in love with the natural beauty of the Centennial State shortly after moving there in 2001. He worked as a river rafting guide upon arrival, an activity he still maintains on a part-time basis.
After working in sales in the mortgage industry for a number of years, the general business major was attracted to a uniquely Coloradoan company in the Bristol Brewing Company. The Colorado Springs business was founded in 1994 by brew master Mike Bristol with the intent of creating handcrafted ales for the people of Colorado, while at the same time maintaining a commitment to community involvement. Since that time, Bristol beers have become highly decorated and the company has made significant philanthropic contributions.
As much as the beer, Boling says, he was drawn to Bristol for their corporate culture and their emphasis and even insistence on community involvement. Employees are required to participate in at least 10 volunteer events each year, and the company plays an active role in civic leadership.
“It was the company that attracted me more than the industry,” Boling said. “Bristol is very well known in the community for doing a lot of community events. Pretty much anything that’s going to be in town, we’ll be involved with it in some way.”
Boling serves as the Sales Manager (sales “genie” in the parlance of the company’s whimsical Web site) for Bristol, servicing more than 180 accounts throughout Colorado. He travels to restaurants and bars, hotels and liquor stores to make sure they are stocking some of the 50 different beers brewed by Bristol each year. Five of those styles are brewed year round and bottled into six-packs. The rest of them are seasonal varieties, many of them available only in the company’s tasting room or by draft in local taverns. “The room is like a bar,” said Boling. “But everything we serve in the tasting room has to be manufactured on site because we have what is called a manufacturer’s liquor license.”
Among the many varieties are also those that Boling calls “community beers.”
“We do three community beers right now,” he said. “All the proceeds go to something in the community. We release those every year. One is Cheyenne Canyon Ale, and it goes to benefit the Friends of Cheyenne Canyon. That’s an open city park into the mountain. They do trail cleanup and outdoor recreation.”
Though the brewery distributes throughout the state of Colorado, Boling says as much as 95 percent of their output is distributed around Colorado Springs in El Paso County. That’s by design. Part of the Bristol mission is to promote the support of local breweries, which in many places can be a cornerstone of the community. “The political climate in this state really allows us to be a brewery state,” said Boling, adding that there are more than 100 microbreweries in Colorado.
Boling may have chosen to stay in Colorado, but he does make time to return to Ole Miss. He is active in the ongoing Rugby Reunions that take place every year. This year, he’ll return to Ole Miss to participate in the annual match between the Ole Miss Rugby team and the Alumni Rugby team. For the first time, he’ll be playing on the Alumni squad.