Q: What's the connection between English artist Ralph Steadman and a microbrew called Broken Keg Ice Bock? A: Both will be appearing somewhere between the long rows of kegs at the 2004 Great American Beer Festival at the Colorado Convention Center from Thursday, September 30, to Saturday, October 2. In all, 2,041 kinds of beer in 67 categories, arranged in rows by geographical region (so you don't have to rub elbows with the Texans milling about the Miller booth) will be judged by an international panel of professional tipplers intent on crowning the best brews. Of those entries, about three-fourths are put on the floor for amateurs (albeit well-practiced ones) like us to taste for the low price of $35 in advance, $40 at the door. A designated driver's ticket is responsibly offered for the sober price of $15 (plenty of good eats, microbrew root beer, soft cider and non-alcoholic beverages will be on hand). But if none of your friends will agree to abstain for a lower price, cabs will be lined up at 14th and Stout.
For big thirsts, there's a $50 admission price for the connoisseur tasting and award ceremony, Saturday afternoon from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. (bring your own monocle and top hat). And why would anyone shell out extra leaf for something like that? Imagine a palate far beyond the traditional hemp ale, barley wine, chocolate stout and coffee porter -- tastes like boysenberry, jalapeño, pumpkin and black cherry. Or how about getting a good, close look at a new addition to this year's festival, a collaboration between the Discovery Channel's Monster Garage and California's Stone Brewery -- a functional beer-pumping fire truck/brewery?
Swimming in this sea allows time to ponder such beguiling label monikers as Black Tulip, Mad Hatter, Demented Dwarf and Silent Oath. And don't forget Doggie-Style Pale Ale from Denver's very own Flying Dog Brewery, celebrating its tenth anniversary with the arrival of Steadman, famous for his sprawling, splattering, etching penwork on Flying Dog labels, Rolling Stone portraits and the books of Aspen's resident swine-stalker, Hunter S. Thompson.
The convention center is at 700 14th Street; doors open at 5:30 for all public tastings. Tickets are available at 303-447-0816, 800-830-TIXS or www.ticketmaster.com. -- Ben Hiller
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
The devil made him make it
Freud needs a new theory. "You know, psychiatrists say you should only indulge your id a little bit," says Ricki Vincent of VooDoo Dolls Productions, "but I built an entire body for mine."
The "necromantic furniture" artist and puppeteer is a beefy buck with tattooed biceps as big as Britney Spears's head. "I'm a body piercer -- that's my straight job," he says. "The last thing people expect is that I play with dolls."
Vincent, who performs as Ego, also has a whole collection of stringed toys hanging around. They were featured on his macabre Muppet Show-type program, Dante's Inferno, which ran for eight episodes on Denver's DCTV. Vincent's favorite is his "Id" -- an eighty-pound ogre who says all the things he can't, such as, "Listen lady, a large family could live in the shadow of your butt" and "You do realize you're arguing with a piece of foam, right? I used to be a couch."
Experience Vincent's many manifestations, along with the work of other dark artists, at the multimedia art show Lucifer's Garage Sale, tonight from 7 to 11 p.m. at The Other Side Arts, 1644 Platte Street. Entry is free, but donations are accepted. The exhibit will close October 30 with a Halloween costume party and "the wildest burlesque show you'll ever see." Vincent promises a fully strung-out cast, featuring a stuffed pig singing torch songs. Call The Other Side Arts at 303-303-561-3000 or visit www.theothersidearts.com. -- Kity Ironton
Rocky Mountain Bye
Even before leaving this world on his own jet plane seven years ago, John Denver made for a great punchline. But besides his joke-worthiness, the famed songwriter possessed an ability to connect with people on a truly pure and heartfelt level. He's survived by a heap of unshakable hits -- among them, "Annie's Song," "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and "Rocky Mountain High" -- and the man born Henry John Deutschendorf has, even in death, commanded the adoration of millions who were touched by his bright, gentle and ecologically conscious music. A congregation of his most devoted acolytes will convene in Salida this weekend for The Sixth Annual John Denver Celebration. From Friday through Sunday, various venues throughout leafy Salida will host a tribute to the Country Boy that includes film screenings, memorabilia displays and campfire sing-a-longs. The main event -- an outdoor concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Ridin' the Pine Sports Bar and Grill, 1015 East U.S. 50 -- will feature Veronique Van Pelt, Keeper, Russ Michaels and organizer Christine Smith, all performing originals along with their favorite Denver anthems. If sunshine on your shoulders makes you happy, this gathering will be almost heaven. Admission for all three days is $65, which includes a gourmet buffet meal; Saturday night's show is $5. Call 1-719-207-1456 for tickets or visit www.johndenverlegacy.com for more information. -- Jason Heller