Summit County brewers creating first collaboration beer for Colorado Beer Week |

Summit County brewers creating first collaboration beer for Colorado Beer Week

Alan Simmons, of Backcountry Brewery in Frisco, gathers cherries to add to the collaboration brew.
Jessica Smith / |

The gathering of some of the finest beards in Summit County took place last Saturday, Feb. 15, at Pug Ryan’s in Dillon. Oh, and there was beer, too.

It’s no secret that a full, bushy beard is the facial accessory of choice among many of those in the craft brewing world. The same seems to be true of Summit County’s brewers.

The reason for gathering so much beard power in a single room was in itself a historical event — the brewing of the first collaboration beer involving each of Summit County’s breweries.

The idea of doing a collaboration had been tossed around for a while, but the brewers had never managed to work out a schedule when each of them was free.

“When trying to get all the different brewers together, it’s like herding cats,” said Jason Ford, of Broken Compass Brewing in Breckenridge. Broken Compass is the newest addition to the Summit County brewing family, and will be opening its doors in March.

The brewers finally had an excuse to stop making excuses and get together when the Colorado Brewers Guild and Imbibe Denver announced the Collaboration Festival, a new event to open Colorado Beer Week in March. The Collaboration Festival is the first of a series of four events going on during Colorado Beer Week, called the Lovibond series. (“Lovibond” is a term used to describe specific colors of grain in brewing.) In addition to the Collaboration Festival, there will also be a Sesh Fest, Brewery 5K and Fresh Hop Festival.

The Collaboration Festival calls for in-state and out-of-state brewers to work together to come up with some unique and tasty brews. This was the chance for Summit’s brewers to put their heads (and beards) together and have some fun.

They decided on a black saison beer, which they began brewing on Saturday.

“We just wanted a beer that would take a lot of things that we could throw at it, which saisons are perfect for,” said Alan Simons, brewmaster of Backcountry Brewery in Frisco.

With the exception of some Belgian and German malts, nearly all of the ingredients in the beer are from Colorado. It features Colorado cherries, hops (from High Wire Hop Farm in Paonia), honey, spruce tips (from Spruce On Tap) and yeast (from the Brewing Science Institute in Woodland Park). It will also spend some time in some barrels donated by Breckenridge Distillery.

“We wanted to make it a Colorado beer,” said Simons.

Once the beer is finished, each brewery will get a share.

“We’re going to split this beer up equally among the five breweries, and everyone’s going to do what they want with it,” said Cory Forster, brewmaster at the Dillon Dam Brewery.

The brew will be finished in time for its first pouring on March 22 at the Collaboration Festival. Those who want to be there can buy tickets to the event at the Imbibe Denver website. In addition to Summit’s beer, there will be more than 20 other collaboration brews to sample from a variety of breweries.

“Collaboration fest will highlight the work we are doing as an industry. What other festival is going to have a beer that was created by a brewery in Colorado and Tasmania?” said PJ Hoberman, of Imbibe Denver, in a news release, referring to a collaboration brew among Breckenridge Brewery, Cannonball Creek Brewing Co., Durango Brewing, Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery, Eddyline Brewing, Mountain Sun, Telluride Brewing Co., Iron Springs Brewery (Calif.) and Moo Brew (Tasmania).

Those who can’t make it to the Collaboration fest will be able to taste the black saison at each of Summit County’s five breweries (Dillon Dam Brewery, Pug Ryan’s Brewing Company, Backcountry Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery and Broken Compass Brewing), with each having given it its own twist.

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