Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Big Beers Gets Bigger

Vail Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival, once one of the state's hidden gems, has grown in reputation to the point where it's now an accepted fact that it's the best non-GABF annual beer event in Colorado. That's enough to make any organizer rest on their laurels.

But resting is something that festival coordinator Laura Lodge doesn't do so well. And so, this year's event, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, has added more sessions, more beer knowledge and, maybe most importantly, more room for both extra patrons and extra breweries.

The biggest news, if you haven't heard - and if you haven't heard anything about the event, I'll just say: Drop your plans for the weekend and head to Vail - is that the grand tasting has moved to a bigger area with space roughly twice that of the past two years. While lines have never been a problem at the festival, elbow-to-elbow maneuvering at times has been, and this will eliminate that and give more breweries a chance to strut their stuff.

That the festival will be accommodating to more beer makers is evident from the list of just how many small but talented brewers will be pouring at sessions throughout Saturday. Trinity Brewing and Mystic Brewery will be among those discussing experimental brewing at 9:30 a.m., sour savants Captain Lawrence Brewing will co-host two seminars with Deschutes and both Bell's Brewery and Cambridge Brewing - two of the best breweries not selling in Colorado - will be part of a featured early-afternoon talk.

And for those who like to divide their gigantic-beer drinking over multiple days, there is a Brewers Association-led Friday night talk on winter seasonals and a varied lineup of rare beers from Thursday through Saturday in the Cascade Lounge.

If this all sounds like some sort of commercial for the festival, it's no more so one than all the hype that I and other bloggers try to sort through before the Great American Beer Festival. But in the case of Vail Big Beers, it's all laid out in one location - the Vail Cascade Resort - and happens to center around an event about which too few people still seem to know.

Maybe I should keep quiet and go on acting as if I know a secret. But I'd rather shout about it - and spend the next month writing blogs based on things I learned this upcoming weekend. See you there.

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