Keystone Bluegrass & Beer Festival celebrates 20 years |

Keystone Bluegrass & Beer Festival celebrates 20 years

Summit forwards Gerson Martinez (left) and Conor Craig tag-team for a chance on the goal in the second half of a home soccer game against Conifer on Sept. 1. The Tigers won, 2-0.
Phil Lindeman / |

With easy access to recipes and information on the internet and the rise of the craft beer industry in general, the popularity of home brewing has steadily risen, with an estimated 1.2 million homebrewers in the U.S., according to statistics from the American Homebrewers Association (AHA).

“It’s a creative outlet, it’s a way to express what you want to try,” said John Moorhead, project coordinator with the AHA. “A lot of what’s cool about homebrewing is it’s not a profit-driven thing; you can create a milk stout, but you can throw all sorts of interesting stuff in there. It’s a way to explore new possibilities you might otherwise have not been aware of.”

He’ll be giving a seminar entitled, “Yes, You Can Brew Good Beer at Home Too,” at this weekend’s Bluegrass & Beer Festival in Keystone on Sunday, Aug. 7. The event is celebrating 20 years Aug. 6-7 — making it one of the longest running beer festivals in the state — with more than 100 brews from 40 breweries. Free live music runs all day Saturday and Sunday with bands including Peter Rowan Band, Larry Keel Experience, Tim O’Brien and more.


The American Homebrewers Association is a nonprofit based in Boulder that started in 1978, the same year President Jimmy Carter signed a bill that legalized homebrewing federally, which went into effect in early 1979. Charlie Papazian, a kindergarten teacher who taught homebrewing on the side, along with Charlie Matzen, created the organization with the help of volunteers with a mission to provide home brewers as much education as possible to make good beer at home.

“You didn’t have this craft beer revolution that we are all so fortunate and lucky to be a part of now,” Moorhead said. “You had fewer than a hundred breweries back then, and a lot of it was very light lager, not a whole lot of flavor profile; and this whole underground movement of homebrewing came about, all of these different flavors and styles that had been long gone since Prohibition started to re-emerge. Now it’s an activity practiced by over a million people in the United States.”

Not only does AHA provide education to its members as well as its magazine, Zymurgy, but it also provides support for homebrewing rights and legislation. In 2012, AHA worked with Mississippi and Alabama to allow homebrewing in the state, with both laws going into effect in 2013.

“Now that all 50 states are legalized, there are other issues that we tackle, for instance, homebrewing clubs being allowed to serve their beer in a licensed establishment,” Moorhead said.

It also offers a member-deals program, in which establishments or craft breweries offer discounts.

In the seminar at the Keystone festival, which is a free event scheduled for Sunday at noon in Warren Station Center for the Arts, he will be discussing what it takes to make good beer at home. He said people shouldn’t be intimidated by homebrewing, and that most of the professionals who make a living at it started as homebrewers.

“The barrier to getting into it is understanding that it’s not — it’s an art and a science, but, if you can make soup or cook cookies, you can definitely homebrew,” he said.

The upfront costs to get started are around $80 to $120, and he estimates it costs around $40 to create a 5-gallon batch. The biggest challenge in homebrewing is having patience, Moorhead said.

“You’re not going to be able to drink it the day you make it,” he said. “In an era where people want immediate gratification, you have to be able to step back a little bit and let it do its thing.”

The most important thing when it comes to homebrewing is to have fun with it, he says.

“You’re making beer, you’re not writing a paper,” he said. “Have fun with it; you don’t want to do something that creates a lot of stress and anxiety. So have fun with it, and practice patience.”


To celebrate 20 years, the Keystone Neighbourhood Company has partnered with New Belgium and created a few new events to pair with the weekend festival. On Thursday, Aug. 4, there will be a New Belgium bike-in cinema in River Run Village, featuring “The Goonies.”

On Friday, Aug. 5, a new beer maker’s pairing dinner will feature small plates matched with New Belgium brews. Chef Chris Rybak has created the dishes for the “Eat, Drink, Pick” event to complement beer flavors, and he and New Belgium beer makers will speak about menu design, flavor profiles and education on the brewery and the showcased brews. Some of the dishes include an arugula salad with watermelon and Jumping Goat cheese paired with New Beligum’s Watermelon Ale, and a shrimp and scallop curry paired with the Citradelic IPA, said Maja Russer, director of events and marketing for the Keystone Neighbourhood Company. Music with Caribou Mountain Collective will round out the evening.

On Saturday, Aug. 6, the Fat Tire and Friends Collabeeration Seminar and Tasting begins at noon at Warren Station Center.

“Across the country, different breweries did their spin on fat tire, and they came up with this Fat Tire and Friends Collabeeration,” Russer said. “So people will be able to come and taste all of those different variations. … There’s five different collaboration flavors, and then they will talk about those partnerships with different breweries.”

On top of the homebrew seminar, the Homebrew Hub will be set up on the Warren Station patio all weekend, showcasing equipment from Co-Brew, a homebrew supply store based in Denver.

The grand tasting event is from 1–5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, showcasing 40 breweries from Colorado and around the country. Local participants include Bakers’, Dillon Dam, Pug Ryan’s, Backcountry and Breckenridge breweries. The sampling with a 20-year commemorative glass is $40 per person for one day in advance; $75 in advance for a weekend pass per person with unlimited beer tasting, with prices going up at the gate to $45 and $80. Food tickets will be $1 each and vary in ticket price.

The battle of the brews social media throwdown is back. The beer with the most #keystonebestbrew social votes will be crowned the festival’s “Best Brew.” New this year, stop by an Instaprint station to get a free print of festival Instagram photos at various River Run restaurants and shops. Use the hashtags #keystonebestbrew, #keystonebluegrass or #keystonebrew to get the print.


Like all of the Keystone Neighbourhood Company festivals, entrance is free, and there will also be a beer garden to purchase drinks à la carte rather than participating in the unlimited sampling.

“So, if you want to come grab a beer or if you’re not into beer, we have a Jim Beam Blackberry Lemonade Smash, which is a delicious summer drink … and sit and listen to Peter Rowan you can do that,” Russer said.

The lineup includes Haymarket Squares, Kanktankerous, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, Mason Town, Tim O’Brien, Peter Rowan Band, Dr. Harlan’s Amazing Bluegrass Tonic, Thunder and Rain, Blue Moon Bluegrass, T Sisters, Lonely Heartstrings Band, Mandolin Orange and Larry Keel Experience.

“For our 20th anniversary, we went pretty big on the lineup,” Russer said. “To have three of kind of the godfathers of bluegrass — Tim O’Brien, Peter Rowan and Larry Keel — all here over the weekend, and then some up and comers.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.