Eager drinkers shuffled from tent to tent, cups outstretched like so many grown-up Oliver Twists, pleading with their eyes, “Please sir, I want some more.” Brewery representatives complied, topping off tasting glasses with wheats, pale ales and dunkels. Rivulets of music drifted over the crowd from the center stage, adding an upbeat soundtrack to the event, while lines stretched ever longer as the afternoon wore on.
Overcast skies and chilly temperatures didn’t keep hundreds of beer aficionados away from the Breckenridge Spring Fever Beer Festival on Saturday, April 5. The fest attracted more than 30 breweries from around the state of Colorado and beyond, pouring some of their stand-by favorites and handcrafted specialty brews.
A premier festival
Jason “Shag” Hardwick, ale ambassador for Avery Brewing Co., was doling out samples of a few of the brewery’s core brands, including Avery IPA, White Rascal and Ellie’s Brown Ale, plus a limited secret stash of The Czar, The Maharaja and The Reverend.
“It’s turning into one of the premier spring festivals in the mountains,” Hardwick said. “There’s breweries you haven’t seen before, some great breweries that are showing up to this — Fate, our neighbor right down the street, and I love seeing Telluride, I love their beer. It was a long drive for them, so it was nice to see those guys there. I didn’t get enough chance to get out and explore as much as I wanted to.”
Hardwick said the expanded event, which now takes up two full blocks of Ridge Street in Breckenridge, has grown every year since he started schlepping the suds for Avery a few years ago.
“We were busy the whole day,” he said. “It was on and off cold and snowy and sunny during the day, but it was super busy. … It wasn’t the perfect weather day but it was still really full.”
Though Avery is a well-known name around Boulder, Hardwick said he thought the brewery picked up some new customers at the festival.
“I couldn’t believe how many people were from out of town, not here on spring break, but just Colorado local out-of-towners,” he said.
Beer to help firefighters
Co-owner Eric Ross said representatives from his brewery, Kannah Creek Brewing Co. in Grand Junction, had an amazing time pouring at their inaugural Breckenridge festival.
“It was a lot of fun,” Ross said. “Other than freezing our asses off, it was a really positive experience. We’re a production facility as well as a brewpub, and part of our mission this summer is to introduce people to our beer and where to find it. The crowd was really enthusiastic for our beer.”
Kannah Creek poured four different beers at the festival: Lands End Amber, Standing Wave Pale Ale, Broken Oar IPA and Crossed Irons Irish, a special brew that raises money for the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund. Farrell was a firefighter who passed away during 911 in New York, Ross said, and his brother started the foundation in his name.
“They help support families of fallen firefighters,” Ross said. “Our Crossed Irons Irish Ale — a portion of sales throughout Colorado is going to that fund. I had 10 to 12 firefighters stop by and thank us for what we were doing and ask us for more information about what’s going on.”
The brewery originally created Crossed Irons to help raise money for a local Grand Junction firefighter who had been diagnosed with leukemia. The label is a reference to the two hand tools that firefighters commonly use, the flathead axe and halligan bar. Ross said the brewery is already on the books to return to Breckenridge for the summer festival.
“It was a great event,” he said. “It was well-organized, a lot of fun. We met some really great people.”