My favorites from Keystone’s Bluegrass and Beer Festival
Summit Suds: Beer news, reviews, recipes and more
International Beer Day was Friday, Aug. 6, and I found that a great way to honor the occasion was attending Keystone’s Bluegrass and Beer Festival over the weekend. It was my first time attending the long-running festival, and it was the first time I’ve been to a beer festival since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
I love festivals because they’re one of the best opportunities to try new beers. While I’m lucky to be surrounded by Summit County’s stellar breweries, sometimes I find myself stuck in a rut. I rarely buy beer at a store anymore and could easily miss something worthwhile from a Front Range or out-of-state brewery.
There was no way I could sample each beer in one day — Joyride Brewing Co. sadly ran out Sunday, Aug. 8, by the time I made it to their tent — so this is not an exhaustive recap. I didn’t have any truly bad beer, but I will note some of the highlights.
Much of the beer I tried leaned toward unique and seasonal offerings because I didn’t want to drink the same beer I can grab anywhere, anytime.
Odell Brewing Co.’s Peach Stand Rambler: This blonde ale is 5% alcohol by volume, which is good because it is very easy to keep coming back for more. It smells like a peach pie and has a very smooth mouthfeel. I got a decent amount of peach flavor on the palate without it being too sickly sweet.
Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Getting’ Tiki With It: A pina colada wheat ale served on nitro — meaning it has less carbonation for a velvety texture — may sound strange to some, but it totally works. It has a pleasant aroma of coconut but tastes of juicy pineapple. The addition of lactose gives it a creamy body, and I could mistake it for a cocktail instead of beer if I wasn’t careful.
Two Roads Brewery’s Daybreaker: Speaking of things other than beer, this was one of the few seltzer-like options present at the festival and it came from the only out-of-state brewery there. The Meyer lemonade vodka cocktail from Stratford, Connecticut, blew me away. Made with real fruit and sparkling water, it was like drinking freshly made lemonade.
Trinity Brewing Co.’s Double Dragon: I haven’t had a beer from Trinity since it changed ownership, and this might be the first time I had a double India pale ale from them instead of their well-known saisons. The pleasant dragon fruit flavor made it one of the better IPAs of the day.
Irwin Brewing Co.’s Grisette: Made in collaboration with Bruz Beers, the grisette — a low-alcohol farmhouse ale — has light notes of banana. At 4.2% ABV, it was super refreshing at the end of the day after lot of heavy beers.
Though I focused on out-of-county breweries, I didn’t completely ignore local establishments. Here are a couple of tasty, unfamiliar brews I had at the festival from familiar faces.
Highside Brewing’s Sur Disig: This sour IPA isn’t as aggressive as other beers, such as the Sour Rose from Crooked Stave that was also at the festival. I found it well balanced, crisp, dry and a little tart. It reminded me of a radler or shandy and was just as refreshing.
Steep Brewing & Coffee Co.’s Pau Hana Coconut Coffee Porter: The roasted coconut flavor, which comes from the 30 pounds of toasted coconut infused with cold-brew coffee, makes this one of the tastiest coconut beers I’ve had.
Angry James Brewing Co.’s Beach Spot: This New England IPA has a summery tropical flavor that, as the name implies, makes me want to sit on a beach. The dry, hop bitterness finish balances it out and entices you to take another sip.
At the end of the festival, it was revealed which breweries received the most votes from attendees: 10 Barrel Brewing won first place, Left Hand narrowly came in second, and HighSide finished in third.
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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