Wednesday, July 23, 2008
So, did anyone else out there hit the Breckenridge Beer Festival this weekend? I did, and I have a couple of thoughts coming out of it.
*As far as outdoor summer beer festivals go, the atmosphere was more pleasant than Ft. Collins but not quite up to Salida standards. The crowd was a little smaller, slightly classier and less chaotic than the Ft. Collins event, and the lines never grew more than four or five people long. The town-square setting was pleasant, but without the shades offered by the trees in Salida's downtown park, it also got a little hotter.
*Once again, festival organizers and brewers underestimated the desire for some of their beers. This didn't touch the one-hour-in-and-you're-running-low tendency of the best brews at the Arapahoe Basin festival, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn't still get an Odell IPA more than an hour before the end of the show, especially since I was wearing an Odell IPA shirt. Some popular booths, like Alaskan Brewing, packed up way too early. Other good ones, like Pug Ryan's stayed throughout the show. Which brings me to my next point . . . .
*Dillon's Pug Ryan's is quietly becoming one of the unsung stars of the Colorado beer scene. It stole the show at the Arapahoe Basin festival in May with its new helles bock, and few beers seemed to get the compliments in Breckenridge that its Breakfast Porter pulled in. I decided after starting the day with the coffee-heavy porter that every beer festival should begin with a similar wake-up-the-taste-buds drink.
*Nobody does festivals better than Boston Beer Company. Most breweries bring a few staples, maybe a new arrival and they roll out some schwag and free samples. The makers of Sam Adams come prepared to make you think. I noticed this at the Vail big beers festival in January and again this weekend. Rather than just give you a beer, they wanted attendees to vote on whether their next roll-out would be a Blackberry Witbier or a Coffee Stout. It's a great way to make you care more about the company and to give you a reason to go to a festival rather than to just go down to the corner liquor store. The winner for me, by the way, was easy: the coffee stout was surprisingly light but filling in its fine taste; the witbier was too sweet and pungent.
*Overall, as a first-time attendee, I have to say I enjoyed the festival. Almost every major Colorado brewer was there, and the atmosphere was a pleasant, easy one. You can never go wrong visiting one of Colorado's most laid-back ski towns, and the offering of 22 beers there is just one more reason to head to the mountains.
Odell Brewing Company
I didn't bring a camera, but I asked a friend who did if he had snapped any pictures. I think his response speaks for itself:
"Sorry we don't have any pictures from the festival. Too busy drinking."