Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stop ... Lager Time

Colorado has more beer festivals than Batman has archenemies. But there are four that year in and year out stand out:

*Denver's Great American Beer Festival in late September;

*Vail's Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines festival in early January;

*Salida's Brewers Rendezvous in early July; and,

*The Manitou Craft Lager Festival, coming up this Saturday and Sunday.

Each of these brings a unique assortment of brewers from across the state and country. And each is notable because the brewers don't just show up but bring harder-to-find selections and even make unique offerings to roll out at the events.

But the Craft Lager Festival, entering its ninth year this year, earns special kudos among the group because it has played a significant role in Colorado breweries taking an outdated style of beer and spicing it up. And any event that makes the lager - the kind of beer most often associated with megaswill - special is worthy of our compliments.

And I'm not just saying that because this is the first festival at which we'll be selling my book, Mountain Brew.

Really, take a look at some of the offerings that will be available this year. Odell Brewing is rolling out a pilot kolsch beer. Rock Bottom Colorado Springs is bringing a chili pepper Mexican lager. And AC Golden, known largely for its Colorado Native lager, is bringing a German-style pilsner that you can't find on store shelves.

And, of course, that doesn't even count the fantastic offerings from smaller breweries that aren't available statewide, such as Pug Ryan's Helles Bock or Rocky Mountain Brewery's Smoked Hefeweizen.

The only complaint that patrons have had in the past about the festival is that it's grown so fast that breweries run out of beer too quickly. But organizers have always responded strongly to feedback, and there are great hopes that the beer flows until close to closing time this year.

So, cheers for the Craft Lager Festival, which runs from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. And I hope to see a number of you down there celebrating this unique take on the Colorado brewing tradition.

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I saw that this year's festival is also being touted as a small batch festival as well. Does this mean that the festival is expanding outside of lagers or that it is specifically only small batch lagers that are now being included?

Odell hosts a small batch festival at their brewery every year. Sounds like they are going to spread one of their batches to Manitou for a test drive. They usually make some great experimental batches.

Sorry I'll miss this one again this year. I should have timed my Colorado Springs area visit a little better. I was just in the area earlier this week.
@ dave... yes we opened up to small batch brews but it's also the word for distilleries aka spirts/ liquor... another underserved area... so now all distilleries are welcome too!
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