Celebrate Big Beers your own way at multiple Summit County breweries
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The annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines festival should have happened this past weekend if not for the coronavirus pandemic. It marks the second year in a row that the Breckenridge event has been canceled.
However, festival organizers have created Craft Your Own Big Beers so breweries can still celebrate in their own way. Rather than hundreds of people crowding conference rooms, participating locations are encouraged to do their own tappings that highlight barleywines, Belgian beer and beers high in alcohol by volume, or other events in the spirit of Big Beers.
There isn’t a hard and fast time frame to mark the occasion. Some have already released their special brew, some may focus on the upcoming weekend, and others have chosen to party all month long. Here is what some local businesses have planned.
Next week, Pug Ryan’s in Dillon will be tapping a barrel-aged imperial coffee stout. The beer was aged in Breckenridge Distillery bourbon barrels for a year and a half.
Coming out at the end of January is Angry James Brewing Co.’s 4 Years Running, an anniversary India pale ale that’s 8% ABV. The Silverthorne brewer is also currently pouring Stellar Merger, 10.8% ABV imperial stout that was aged in Breckenridge Distillery bourbon barrels for seven months. A slightly lighter standby is the 7.1% Norwegian Farmhouse.
Down the road is the Dillon Dam Brewery with Hop Hulk, a New England style IPA at 7.2% ABV, and the aptly named Spruce Banner, a 10.4% double IPA brewed with Colorado blue spruce and Engelmann spruce tips. Soon to be tapped is the Belgian quadruple ale High Speed Quad that is aged in Breckenridge bourbon barrels and 12% ABV, as well as an imperial, 13% oatmeal stout that is barrel aged and served on nitrogen for a creamy body.
Highside Brewing in Frisco has two beers currently aging in barrels to be released at a later date. In the meantime, people can grab a 16-ounce to-go can of its Wall Slammer imperial stout. The eight-month barrel-aged beer is 16.5% ABV and has notes of caramel, molasses and chocolate.
Further south, Breckenridge Brewery & Pub is serving its 2 Planker double IPA, a 10.4% ABV beer made with multiple hops for a West Coast style.
Broken Compass Brewing recently released Quandary Peak, a wheat wine aged in sherry port barrels for six months. The 14.2% ABV brew is said to have bready, toffee and candy flavors.
More beer can be found via the DigitalPour app. When people search for the festival in the app and click it, all participating breweries will be displayed — from 4 Noses Brewing Co. to Woods Boss Brewing Co. and even out-of-state offerings like Troegs from Pennsylvania and Surly from Minnesota in addition to European choices.
For instance, it shows that Broken Compass also has the ColoRadoBro double IPA, Snow Blind double imperial IPA, Zamba Juice IPA and The Wallace Stout available for festival-appropriate beers.
Though Frisco’s Outer Range Brewing Co. isn’t explicitly releasing a beer for the event, its High Roads double IPA is listed on the app since it clocks in at 7.9% ABV, and its many Belgian beers not on the app would also fit the bill.
The app lists six choices for The Bakers’ Brewery in Silverthorne. Some are its standards, like the Buzzbird Belgian Wheat, while others are more unique, such as the Winter is Coming imperial saison aged in bourbon-rested Madeira wine barrels.
Big Beers is one of my favorite festivals to attend. It’s a chance to have a sample poured by the brewers themselves and bask in the camaraderie as patrons and industry professionals alike bond over beer. I miss it and can’t wait for it to return.
Jefferson Geiger is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for Explore Summit. Have a question about beer? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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