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Celebrating Memorial weekend

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

Arapahoe Basin turns into an open party every spring weekend, but Sunday, it hosts its largest party of the season with the Ninth Annual Festival of the Brewpubs.

Four local breweries – Backcountry, Breckenridge, Dillon Dam and Pug Ryan’s – offer samples of their best hand-crafted ales. Just buy a 14 ounce mug for $20, and you receive unlimited access to tastings from noon until 4 p.m. – or until the last keg is tapped out.

Krystal 93 will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., revving people up for live music.

At 1 p.m., Basin-goers will “party like it’s 1999,” – well, really, the 1980s – “with a rebel yell” with That Eighties Band, on the ticket office steps. We’re talkin’ “Thriller,” “Material Girl,” “Don’t Stop Believin'” so you can hold on to that ’80s feelin’ ’til 4 p.m. That Eighties Band plays all of the great (and, let’s face it, not so great) hits of the ’80s, so tease your hair big and pump up your shoulder pads and leg warmers for a rockin’ afternoon.

Believe it or not, the Denver-based band says they came up with the name “after a lot of brainstorming to find a name that best describes our music.” Hmmmm ….

Their sound can be likened to a can of Aqua Net (quick! save the ozone!) or that tricky and colorful Rubik’s Cube that both fascinated and confounded youth.

“We try to bring people back to the ’80s,” said band member Travis LeRoy. “We strive to make the show and the music as authentic as possible. There are so many great songs from that era.”

The Backcountry Brewery brings back its Mayfest this year. The party began as a local celebration of brews, barbecue and bands in 1997, and after a two-year hiatus, it returned last year (with an enthusiastic response from patrons) and is heading into its 13th anniversary.

This weekend, the Backcountry truly has something to boast – its Maybock spring lager earned a silver medal in the Great American Beer Festival – the Superbowl of brewfests – in Denver. That means bragging rights through September.

The Backcountry has brought out its Maybock German Lager every Memorial Day weekend since 1996, but this year, brewmasters made a double batch – 30 barrels – so owner Woody VanGundy said it should be on tap through the entire summer, as opposed to running out around Fourth of July.

Brewmasters use a blend of gently roasted pale malts to create the lightly colored Maybock, which delivers a subtle spiciness. While ales take about 21 days to condition, lagers take 60-90 days to smooth out, and Backcountry brewers make a point of conditioning their lagers as long as possible.

“It drinks like a very smooth, light beer, but it’s deceptive because of the high alcohol content (about 6.5 percent), so people need to take their time,” VanGundy said.

Starting tonight, the Backcountry will extend its happy hours, from 3 p.m. until close, with $2.50 pints, half-price appetizers and free samples of Maybock this weekend.

Saturday, at about 3:30 p.m., Rojos Calientes ushers in its Latin bluegrass vibe; VanGundy chose the band because of the following it’s garnered. Sunday at about 3:30 p.m. local blues soloist Mark Schlaefer plays.

Since Memorial Day weekend is usually thought of as the beginning of summer, The Island Grill in Frisco kicks off its grand opening with live music today.

The Backstage Theatre delivers a sample of Summit County’s talent, in a biker, bro bras, Realtors and house-husbands kind of way tonight. Locals Lounge, as it’s called, stars Heidi Dickstein, Mike Gibson, Robyn Lerner, Dustin Murphy, Carisa Peterson, Rick Seeley, Tim West, and of course, artistic director Christopher Willard. For more info, call (970) 453-0199.

Saturday, Rocky Mountain Hot Tubs in Breckenridge hosts a barbecue.

Monday, the Elks Lodge hosts a Memorial Day Barbecue from noon to 2 p.m. for $10 for adults and $5 for kids. All profits benefit the Elks’ Veterans Programs.

Check out the Summit Daily calendar for more events and live bands at bars throughout the county.


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