Summit Suds: What’s pouring at Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival

A tasting glass from last year at the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival. The 20th anniversary festival officially began Thursday, Jan. 9, and the grand tasting is Saturday, Jan. 11.
The Brewtography Project/Courtesy photo

Prep your tasting glasses and palates for the annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival at Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge. More than 160 breweries will be present to serve beer that is higher than 7% alcohol by volume, brewed in a Belgian style or sets trends with its experimental nature.

The 20th anniversary festival officially began Thursday, Jan. 9, with a dinner highlighting the craft of WeldWerks Brewing Co. and Casey Brewing & Blending — and tap takeovers have been happening all across town — but Saturday’s commercial tasting is the main event.

Though the festival is a great time to sample rare beers from all over the world, there’s also plenty to explore from Summit County establishments. All local breweries except for Pug Ryan’s Brewery are attending the festival. Here is what the breweries are planning to pour, though it is subject to change.

Angry James Brewing Co.

This marks the second year Silverthorne’s Angry James Brewing Co. has attended, and it’ll be pouring its Norwegian Farmhouse, Angry Buffalo Whiskey Dream and a barrel-aged chocolate milk stout. 

The 7.2% ABV farmhouse was brewed with honey malt and Kveik yeast while Angry Buffalo Whiskey Dream is an imperial Brown aged in Breck Bourbon Barrels.

The Bakers’ Brewery

Like their Silverthorne neighbor, The Bakers’ Brewery is also bringing a trio of beers. Likely the lightest local beer is Buzzbird Belgian Wheat, which has an ABV of 4.7%.

“Buzzbird is named for the hummingbirds that frequent the feeders at my home, and the sound that announces their arrival,” brewery co-owner Cory Forster said. “This beer is very light and crisp with subtle notes of honey up front, gently balanced with a bit of orange and the peppery notes of our Belgian Gnome yeast.”

Bakers’ will bring the malty, 7.5% Sasquatch Scotch Ale and the imperial dark saison Winter is Coming aged in a 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits rye barrel that is 8.5% ABV.

Breckenridge Brewery

Breckenridge Brewery is still in the holiday spirit and will be serving up four different beers to warm up in winter. Along with pouring its 7.1% Christmas Ale featuring roasted malt and Chinook and Mt. Hood hops, it’ll have a spiced version and one aged in whiskey Barrels. Called Holidale, the aging process brings the ABV up to 10.5%.

Speaking of aging, the brewery also will pour its signature Vanilla Porter brewed with split Mexican vanilla beans and aged in rum barrels for three months, giving the imperial beer a 12.5% ABV.

Broken Compass Brewing

Breckenridge’s Broken Compass Brewing will have a golden strong ale aged seven months in a merlot barrel, the Snow Blind double IPA and potentially some Imperial Fabulously Delicious Finely Hopped Brown Ale aged 11 months in tawny port barrels.

The brewery also might have a few surprises in store, such as other barrel-aged beers made in collaboration with Denver’s Woods Boss Brewing Co.

Dillon Dam Brewery

Guests can find three beers from Dillon Dam Brewery at the festival. The first, Spruce Tip, is a 8.5% double IPA made with Colorado Blue Spruce tips in addition to East Kent Golding, Cascade and Simcoe hops. The brewery also will have two beers aged in Breckenridge Distillery bourbon barrels.

One is a 12.5% barleywine while the other is Chocolate Oatmeal Imperial Stout. Brewed with rolled oats and chocolate added after fermentation, the stout is has an ABV of 11.5%

HighSide Brewing

This is the first year HighSide Brewing will attend the festival. The brewery was not even 2 years old the last time around and felt it didn’t have an ideal selection for the festival. This year, they’ll be bringing two beers. One, called Log Jam, was made in collaboration with Guanella Pass Brewing Co. and is a 9% Belgian golden strong ale dry hopped with gin botanicals. The brewery is also pouring Eighth Night, an imperial White Russian stout made with lactose that clocks in at 16.2% ABV.

“Big Beers is a fantastic event,” head brewer Jon Zatkoff said. “Whether it’s the brewers reception, pairing dinner, general tasting or additional classes, the community of learning and sharing — Big Beers is really a representation of the beer community at large.”

Outer Range Brewing Co.

Frisco’s Outer Range Brewing Co. specializes in big and Belgian beers so they naturally fit right into the festival. Two of their anniversary imperial stouts, Timber and Atlas, are making a return. This version of Timber was aged for a year in Breckenridge Distillery bourbon barrels with 1 1/2 pounds of Madagascar vanilla beans per barrel.

A third imperial stout, Work From Work, is a collaboration with Denver’s Cerebral Brewing. It was made with marshmallows, coconut, vanilla and lactose. For IPA fans, they’ll be serving the double dry-hopped IPA Leave a Trail brewed with Mosaic and Hallertau Mittelfruh hops.

Along with the tasting, Saturday is full of seminars. Guests can learn about beer blending, malt, Belgian styles, do yoga and more. Visit for the full schedule and to purchase event tickets.

Jefferson Geiger is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for Everything Summit. Have a question about beer? Send him an email at

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