Thursday, July 11, 2013
Yes, that distinction normally goes to opening night of the Great American Beer Festival, with its pageantry and pre-parties and expectations. But the truth is, if you're in downtown Denver - and your liver is prepared - you can catch most of the action in that 24-hour period.
This Saturday, however, even Superman couldn't fly fast enough to get up and down the Front Range and soak in all of the beer celebrations going on. Here's a quick look at your choices, all of which are happening over an 11-hour period in what might be the best beer day of the year.
* Colorado Brewers Rendezvous, Salida
From 1 to 5 p.m., Riverside Park will be flooded with 73 brewers, from both craft breweries big and craft breweries small, to celebrate the Colorado Brewers Guild. And for $35 at the door, you too can get in.
This is one of the finest Colorado festivals of any given year, both because of the breadth and depth of who is serving and the good quality of the beer that brewers bring to impress each other. But also, there's just a spirit of collegiality at what is essentially a CBG rally that you don't find at a lot of other festivals. This is where the Beer Geekette and I will enjoy the day.
* American Homebrewers Association rally, Left Hand Brewing
Those who haven't been to an AHA rally are missing out on a great collection of beer geeks hanging out, commenting on the massive tanks at the host brewery and just chilling. This particular rally, scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Longmont brewery, is free to AHA members and costs only the price of AHA membership to anyone else wanting to get in (though RSVPs are preferred here.)
Plus, host breweries always break out the good stuff for the AHA crowd. In this case, Left Hand will be tapping a vintage Wake Up Dead (rumored to be circa 2010) and holding a q-and-a with everyone present.
* Breckenridge 23rd anniversary block party, Denver
Seriously, the guys who make 471 IPA and Vanilla Porter are old enough to drink and almost old enough to rent a car. And from noon to 6 p.m., they're closing down the roads around their Kalamath Street location and celebrating in style.
A $23 ticket gets you four full beers, unlimited tasters of rare and unique beers, barbecue and music. And those rare beers include Belgian Double IPA, Barrel Aged Belgian Oatmeal Stout, Double Belgian Agave Wheat and "471 on the Moon" - three-quarters 471 IPA and one-quarter Oatmeal Stout, aged in a Cabernet barrel.
* Twisted Pine 18th anniversary, Boulder
As far as anniversaries go, this one is a little more celebratory. Twisted Pine beers can now vote, go to R-rated movies and date their former teachers without legal consequences.
To celebrate, they'll have samples of more than 30 beers, including their 16th anniversary barleywine and 10 small-batch experiments. Tickets are $25, and the party goes from 2 to 7.
* 17th Annual Biergarten Festival, Morrison
This one actually starts Friday night and extends through Sunday, so it gives you a little flexibility. Colorado's German American Chamber of Commerce serves up German music, a German buffet (plus a bratwurst-eating contest at 4 p.m. Saturday) and beer from the likes of Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr.
Eight bucks gets you in Friday (4-10) or Saturday (11-10), and the Sunday (10-2) festivities at TEV Edelweiss Pavilion are free. And if you're ambitious, you can wake up from one of the other four Saturday events and shake off your hangover here.