The Breckenridge Spring Fever Beer Festival returns to Ridge Street on Saturday, April 5, with live music and unlimited beer tasting with the price of admission. But if you are already getting antsy for the big event, you don’t have to wait until Saturday to get your fix.
New this year, the festival has added a mug pickup party on Friday, April 4, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Après Handcrafted Libations on Main Street in Breckenridge. Grab your tasting glass there to avoid the festival entry line on Saturday.
“We were looking at the Breck beer fest and how craft-beer centric it is, and we really wanted to make sure that we were a part of the festival in one way or another,” said Ariell Ayalon, of Après.
The bar will be tapping special firkins on Friday starting at 5 p.m. from Elevation and Epic breweries, and the beer will be available while it lasts. A firkin is a naturally carbonated keg of beer that sits on top of a counter, Ayalon said — an old, traditional way of serving beer. A spigot is hammered into the keg, and natural pressure is used to pour the beer straight, without a tap system or additional gases.
“Both of them are unique kegs that we have ordered special,” Ayalon said. “Elevation is a keg of First Cast IPA that they hopped with only Simcoe hops. The one from Epic is a keg of Escape to Colorado IPA that they have altered in a special way just for Après.”
Ayalon said Après hopes to start the momentum of building the spring beer festival into a larger event, much like many of the beer festivals in Denver.
“I think in the past, the beer festival was kind of a one-day thing, just Saturday, noon to 5, people would come in, find their beers and leave,” he said. “We want to turn it into a bigger weekend, a bigger idea. If you look at any of these festivals in Denver, there’s always events surrounding the festival to really include the community.”
In addition to new events, seven new breweries have also jumped on the beer-fest bandwagon in Breckenridge this year, including Epic Brewing Co., Elevation Beer Co., Fort Collins Brewery, Telluride Brewing Co., Eddyline Brewing, Kannah Creek Brewing Co. and Odyssey Beerwerks. We caught up with a few of them to see which tasty goods they planned to bring to Breck.
Epic Brewing Co.
John Turk, Colorado sales representative for Epic, said the brewery chose to participate for the first time this year to reach more of the craft-beer drinkers in Summit County. Epic will be pouring two beers at the tasting and an addition brew in the VIP area.
“It’ll be good exposure to get up there and pour some of our beers,” Turk said. “We have a pretty strong presence up there in some restaurants and liquor stores, so I figured this would be a great fit.”
• Sour Apple Saison (7.9 percent ABV): Turk said this beer is made with about 10 different spices, including ginger, cardamom, grains of paradise and cinnamon.
• Escape to Colorado IPA (6.2 percent ABV): From the brewery’s Classic series, this has been the most popular beer for Epic since it built its second brewing location in the River North district in Denver last year, Turk said. It’s made with Mosaic and whole-leaf Apollo hops, for a fruity, dank aroma.
• VIP only: Straight Up Saison (7.1 percent ABV): Created from a simple saison formula, this bottle conditioned, Belgian-style farmhouse ale is true to its name — simple, earthy, grassy.
Fort Collins Brewery
Fort Collins Brewery has done some growing and finally has enough manpower to bring a crew to the Breckenridge festival, said Kaylee Kulich, marketing and public relations coordinator for the brewery.
“Breckenridge was one of our first choices to get into,” she said. “The FCB brand is becoming really popular out there, we’re seeing a lot of great feedback, so we want to send our reps out to a festival where we can see 800 to 1,000 people at once and really grow that brand.”
• Major Tom’s American Wheat (5.1 percent ABV): This brew is infused with pomegranates and filtered for a bright finish. It’s got a low hop bitterness at only 34 IBUs, with a sweet-tart finish.
• Chocolate Stout (5.3 percent ABV): The brewery describes this beer as having a “velvety smooth mouth feel, satisfyingly roasty flavor and medium body.”
• Maibock (6.4 percent ABV): Kulich said the 10th anniversary edition of the brewery’s Maibock was brewed in the fall, aged through the winter and “celebrated in the spring.” Rich Munich malts lend flavor to this one.
• Hoptitude Imperial Extra Pale Ale (7.5 percent ABV): Hoptitude will be released on Friday, April 4, just in time to make the trek to the festival. This hard-to-categorize beer has an aromatic orange rind aroma courtesy of a late addition of Pacifica hops from New Zealand.
• VIP only: Smoked Marzen (5.6 percent ABV): For the VIP experience, Fort Collins will be pouring this beer from its Out of the Ashes series. Kulich said most smoked beers fall into the category of love it or hate it, but this food-friendly brew is very approachable.
Eddyline Brewing in Buena Vista is in the middle of an 8,000-square-foot expansion that’s expected to be completed in mid-June. To go along with its new look, the brewery also has a new head brewer, Dave Chichura, formerly of Oskar Blues, who signed on in late October.
“We just got into Breckenridge a year ago, and now that we’re slowly ramping up production, Breck is one of our focus areas,” said Nic Blake, distribution manager for the brewery. “We’re really slow in the winter, and Breck is super, super banging and really busy in the wintertime. Our brewery is kind of outdoor related, and Breck has the sort of clientele that we try to aim our beer at. We’re excited about heading up there and having a little bit more of a presence and visiting more throughout the year.”
The brewery is bringing two of its highest awarded beers, both of which are for sale in cans in Summit County.
• Crank Yanker IPA (7 percent ABV): This brew is balanced with big maltiness up front, bold aroma from a dose of El Dorado hops and a crisp bitterness on the finish, making it fairly easy drinking.
• River Runners Pale Ale (6 percent ABV): The brewery’s longtime favorite session beer, named for a rafting outfit down the road, this pale ale won a gold medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
Chief beer peddler Chris Hill and partner and beer conjurer Josh Van Riper opened Odyssey in May of last year, just missing the registration deadline for the Breckenridge festivals. Hill said brewery reps are looking forward to a weekend of hanging with Summit County buddies and industry chums, listening to good music and trying beers from their contemporaries.
“We don’t distribute to that area yet, but there’s an awful lot of people in the Denver metro area that go to those festivals,” Hill said. “Hopefully, they come home and recognize us and help with our exposure. We’ve been up there on the other side of the table, but this is the first time we’ve been at a mountain craft beer event where we’ll be serving, so it should be pretty fun.”
• Heliocentric Hefeweizen: One of the two “core beers” that Odyssey will be pouring, this hefe is a light, German-style session beer, with hints of clove and banana.
• Ghost Drifter Pale Ale: Hill describes this beer as an “American style pale ale, focusing on West Coast-style hops, balanced nicely with the malts. It’s a hop-forward beer with a crisp, clean finish to it, a summer, sessionable pale ale.”
Odyssey will also be bringing a to-be-determined specialty beer for the VIP tasting.