Monday, November 24, 2014

The New Three Days of Festivus

Denver's coolest Christmas-time beer festival is getting bigger — and is moving some of its jolly fun outside of Denver as well.

Festivus will celebrate its third year of airing grievances and gathering all of Denver's breweries in one room on Dec. 13 at the McNichols Civic Center Building. But before that it also will drop two presents on Boulder and Fort Collins — local Festivus gatherings of their own, attempting to bring all of those cities' breweries together in holiday cheer.

For those who haven't been to Festivus, the particular joy of the event, aside from all the people who show up in ugly sweaters, is that it gets pretty much every brewery within Mile High City limits in one room, sort of like a Great Denver Beer Festival. And event organizer P.J. Hoberman has instructed participants to bring at least one rare or one-off beer to be served, producing an abundance of sours and barrel-aged treats along with the traditional offerings found at other festivals.

That kind of city exclusivity and creativity drew 26 brewers to the event last year. In a sign of how much the Denver beer scene is growing, 39 already had committed to Festivus 2014 by the end of October - including some that will be nearly, but not quite, open.

"As Denver has such a great beer scene, it's fun to have them all under one roof," Hoberman, of Denver Off the Wagon fame, said. "You can talk to that brewer and try that beer and then go buy it the next day."

It only makes sense, then, to bring out the highlights of Fort Collins (Dec. 12) and Boulder (Dec. 5) in the same way. Boulder, after all, can argue that it's America's oldest craft brewing town as home to the longest-running craft brewery in the country (Boulder Beer) and a few second-generation pioneers like Avery Brewing and Mountain Sun that made a national name for themselves or ingrained themselves fully in Colorado's culture. And Fort Collins - with its easy-touring beer avenue and run of national attention-grabbers like New Belgium, Odell and Funkwerks - may have the most impressive per-capita brewery power of any city in America.

Both of those Festivi will be smaller, featuring about 18 breweries, Hoberman said. As such, he is holding the events in smaller venues and is expecting smaller crowds (details here, scroll down on page).

Here's a bet, though, that both can be popular as Denver's if they are run well and the local brewing community responds. And when I asked Hoberman if he's willing to expand the festival to other cities - Colorado Springs' brewing community has grown to the point where it certainly could support one too, I argue - he said he would.

"We'd love to expand it to any city that has a brewing culture to support the event and any city that wants it," he said.

Fair enough. Let the Festivus games begin.

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