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New breweries on tap for Festival of the Brewpubs

Caddie Nath
summit daily news

If there are two things guests and locals alike count on from Summit County they are good snow and good beer.

Arapahoe Basin promises plenty of both this weekend with the 10th annual Festival of the Brewpubs set for Sunday afternoon.

For the last nine years the festival has been a locals-only club, with Summit’s four microbreweries enjoying exclusive access to the booths. But this year, A-Basin opened the door for four new Colorado brewers.

“We were just doing the local breweries, but we’ve had a lot of people asking if they could be involved from outside the county for a few years,” A-Basin spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer said. “So we decided on the 10th annual we’d expand it. We’ll see what happens.”

New Belgium Brewing, out of Fort Collins, Great Divide Brewing Co. from Denver, Idaho Spring’s Tommy Knockers Brewery and Avery Brewing Co., out of Boulder, will join the Breckenridge, Backcountry, Dillon Dam and Pug Ryan’s breweries at the festival Sunday.

Foregoing the more traditional, but chaotic pay-at-the-booth model, A-Basin is instead selling $25 plastic souvenir mugs, which can be filled and refilled from noon until 4 p.m. with samples of the brewer’s handcrafted ales. Each booth will feature a unique flight of signature labels, new beers and old favorites.

Top to bottom lifts will be open throughout the day, giving skiers and snowboarders access to a 97-inch midway base and spring snow conditions. Local DJs will kick off the festival before handing the microphone off to The New Classics, a 70s and 80s classic cover band, which will play live starting at 1 p.m. A-Basin will also fire up the barbecue with smoked pulled pork sliders.

In poor weather the event drew no less than 1,600 thirsty beer fans last year, and with partly sunny skies and a high of 60 degrees in the forecast for Sunday, the turnout this year could be even bigger.

With new blood at the event this year, local brewers will continue pouring the signature beers that have kept festival-goers coming back in the thousands for the last decade.

Pug Ryan’s, a local brewery and steakhouse that participates in a select few beer festivals, will feature its Morning Wood wheat beer, a famous oatmeal vanilla stout, and the more adventurous Munich Dunkle, a medium-bodied dark amber lager that has been in a whiskey barrel from the Breckenridge Distillery, among others.

The Breckenridge Brewery will also be pouring a few of its originals at the festival. A laidback brewpub born in the late 80s to cater to the “ski bum crowd,” Breckenridge’s unique labels have made an unlikely Colorado success story of the little mountain brewery, which now operates a large location in Denver. Among its featured ales on Sunday will be the vanilla porter, a long-time favorite that lets the vanilla flavor take center stage and an agave wheat beer, one of the brewery’s most popular ales, brewed with agave nectar for a light, slightly sweet flavor.

The Dillon Dam Brewery, the namesake of the nearby Dillon Dam, will be serving up its Sweet George’s Brown, a deceptively smooth English-style ale and a house favorite, the no-nonsense McLuhr’s Irish Stout, named for a former brewmaster, an Extra Pale Ale, a Montezuma Marzen and a unique chili beer perfect alongside a plate of nachos.

Frisco’s Backcountry Brewery, an unpretentious local brewpub that sends customers home with its best labels sealed up in pig-shaped kegs will finish off the Summit County set at Sunday’s festival. Backcountry will feature its gold medalist Telemark IPA and its Oktoberfest-inspired Switchback Amber ale on Sunday, among other signatures.


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