Breckenridge loves its beer, and to prove it the town hosts multiple festivals every year to celebrate how the combination of hops, water, yeast and a few other ingredients form one of America’s favorite beverages — the microbrew.
Breck’s first festival, earlier this spring, enjoyed great success in its new location on the 100 block of Ridge Street. Organizers said the spring festival sold 2,700 tickets, which doesn’t include those who came in to listen to free music, eat some food and chat with other festivalgoers. With summer putting on its best face, showing clear skies and warm temperatures, even more beer enthusiasts are expected to attend this weekend’s festival. This festival will also take place on Ridge Street but will stretch to include the 200 block, as well, in order to allow everyone more elbow room and give plenty of space to the more than 30 breweries that will be making appearances.
Summit County is lucky enough to be home to four breweries, so residents are used to having a variety of brews to choose from on a Friday, Saturday or, heck, even a Wednesday night. Variety is a key word for this weekend’s festival, which will provide a range of beers from more than 30 U.S. breweries, from the snowy peaks of Alaska to the balmy beaches of Hawaii, pale ales, summer wheats, stouts, porters and seasonals will all be making their way to the High Country.
Local representation will include Breckenridge Brewery, of course, and Dillon’s Pug Ryan’s Brewing Co., which recently went through a re-branding process and is now sporting a new Wild West look.
Great Divide Brewery from Denver is one of the many Colorado brew houses that will be at the festival. Along with Rumble, its popular oak-aged IPA, the brewery will be bringing one of its newest brews, called Oatmeal Yeti. A new twist on an old favorite, the Yeti is an oatmeal version of Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, brewed with rolled oats, for a smoother mouthfeel, and raisins, for an interesting taste.
The representatives from Boulder Brewing Co. said they are excited to return to Summit County after the success of the Lake Dillon Beer Festival in June. They will be showcasing their Mojo IPA, Sweaty Betty Blonde Hefeweizen and Hoopla Pale Ale. The IPA is the brewery’s second-best selling brew, with a grapefruit-like, citrus-y flavor and 7.2 percent alcohol by volume. The Hefeweizen is brewed in the traditional Bavarian style, unfiltered, with subtle hints of banana and clove flavors, and clocks in at a very drinkable 5.7 percent ABV. Fans of beer and rock music will particularly enjoy the summer seasonal Hoopla Pale Ale, which is the result of a collaboration between Boulder Beer and Kyle Hollingsworth, beer brewer and rock musician with the band The String Cheese Incident.
While it’s obvious that the festival has its beer styles covered, it will also be welcoming craft cider for the first time. The Colorado Cider Co., from the Denver area, will be bringing three of its ciders to mingle with the microbrews. All three ciders boast a 6.95 percent ABV — this isn’t just juice, folks — and are gluten free. Available for tasting will be Glider, the flagship cider; Grasshop-ah, with a citrus-y, non-bitter flavor and floral aroma; and the intriguing Pome Mel — a style called “cyser,” meaning a half apple, half honey cider. Owner and cider maker Brad Page calls it “kind of a nerdy homebrew,” with rosemary and lavender mixed in with 300 pounds of Colorado wildflower honey in each batch.
Unlimited beer tasting costs $25 in advance or $30 at the event. There is also the option of VIP tasting, which includes a large commemorative stein and a private beer tasting in the VIP section with catered lunch from Mo’s Original BBQ.
“The breweries each bring a case of beer to have in (the VIP section), so if you don’t want to wait in line, you don’t have to,” said Jen Radueg, event director.
VIP tickets cost $65 in advance or $75 at the event.
In addition to feeding the stomach, the Breckenridge Beer Festival will also feed the ears of attendees with three bands lined up to play throughout the event. Those who don’t want to drink beer can come through and listen to the music for free. First up will be West Water Outlaws from Boulder, followed by Austin’s Emily Bell.
“She’s been really breaking out this year and she’s amazing,” Radueg said, describing Bell’s style as indie with a country twang.
The festival’s headliner is David Wax Museum, featuring girl-guy duet David Wax and Suz Slezak, with a folk and roots-rock sound.
Two blocks, three bands, more than 30 breweries and hundreds of beers should make Saturday’s festival an event to remember. Following is a list of some of the breweries participating in the event:
AC Golden Brewing Co., Alaskan Brewery Co., Avery Brewing Co., Bonfire Brewing, Boulder Beer Co., Boulevard Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery, Bristol Brewing Co., Colorado Cider Co., Copper Kettle Brewing Co., Crabtree Brewing Co., Crazy Mountain Brewery, Deschutes Brewery, Echo Brewing, FATE Brewing Co., Goose Island, Great Divide Brewing Co., Kona Brewing, Left Hand Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing and Oskar Blues Brewery.