The dream event of every red-blooded Colorado beer-swiller is back: The Great American Beer Festival returns tonight to the new, improved Colorado Convention Center, with a 1,600-variety array of suds from nearly 400 breweries, large and small. Though the fest features plenty of sideshows, from book signings to food demos, the main attraction is, and always will be, the sampling booths, where you can gab with the brewers over one-ounce tastes of bocks, ales, stouts, pilsners and a multitude of other versions of the hearty drink some call liquid bread. And ladies, if you can manage to find a real person in a crowd overcome by alcohol, you'll have your pick, for better or worse -- so drink up and start trolling! Tasting sessions are from 5:30 to 10 p.m. nightly through Saturday; the cream of the brews will be available during a Connoisseur Tasting Session from noon to 4:40 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Admission is $35 to $45 daily, $15 for non-drinking designated drivers, $50 to $55 for the connoisseur session or $125 to $145 for an all-session pass; call 303-830-TIXS or go to www.beertown.com. The convention center is located at 700 14th Street.
For the past several weeks, hurricane-relief benefits have come in a variety of forms. You've danced, you've eaten, you've drunk, you've given freely and even rolled up your sleeves to work. But have you gone to the movies? You should. Landmark Theatres and the 48 Hour Film Project will take advantage of a sweet by-product of this summer's 48 Hour filmmaking competition in Denver and other U.S. cities to present Funny Shorts Made Fast, a program featuring some of the project's funniest quickie film entries. Reel with laughter, along with film fans in eleven other cities, tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway; all proceeds from the $10 admission fee will go to the American Red Cross relief effort. For details, call 303-744-6796 or visit www.48hourfilm.com.
Froday, September 30
Artistic director Nancy Smith of the Frequent Flyers aerial dance company might have flown the coop down south to dance at a higher altitude, but she's also a concerned NOLA native whose heart is in the right place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In support of the Baton Rouge school system, which is dealing with the task of absorbing nearly 10,000 displaced students from New Orleans, Smith will present a Dance Concert for Hurricane Relief that includes performances by a veritable who's who of the Boulder dance community, tonight at 8 p.m. at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder. The $20 admission benefits Robert E. Lee High School in Baton Rouge; call 303-245-8272 or log on to www.thedairy.org.
A local pathologist with a literary pedigree, Robert Greer is probably best known in these parts -- and elsewhere -- for his engaging series of Denver-based C.J. Floyd mysteries. That serial follows the exploits of an African-American bounty hunter whose fictional office is set in an old Victorian on the city's infamous, real-life bail-bonds row, located across the street from the downtown jail. Greer sometimes alters the landscape, but his Denver-centric plots still lead local readers through familiar places, making his books all the more fun to read. That, and the teaming of Greer's favorite protagonists, Floyd and Amerasian doctor Carmen Nguyen (who starred in his stand-alone, Heat Shock), make his latest novel, Resurrecting Langston Blue, a sure winner for Front Range readers. Catch Greer as he whips through the region for a chain of local readings, beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Cherry Creek, 2955 East First Avenue (call 303-322-7727); he re-emerges tomorrow at noon at Murder by the Book, 1574 Pearl Street (303-871-9401), and again at 7 p.m. October 6 at High Crimes, 946 Pearl Street in Boulder (303-443-8346).
Saturday, October 1
Expect a true peak experience today when the folks at the Colorado Mountain Club tell all about their singular passion at Mountain Festival 2005, a convergence of several events dedicated to getting the word out about the splendor of the great outdoors. It happens today from noon to 7 p.m. under the roof of the American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th Street in Golden. The CMC will present a Mountain Skills Expo and Marketplace, with free outdoor-adventure clinics and mountaineering presentations, the club's annual exhibition of landscape art and "A Taste of the Mountains," a Himalayan dinner benefit with food provided by Sherpa's Adventurers Restaurant. Art-show admission is $2 (CMC members admitted free), and dinner is $15, by reservation; for details, call 303-279-3080 or visit www.cmc.org.
Sunday, October 2
It's not too early to get spooked, and a lot of thrill-seekers will be putting Fright Fest to the test at Six Flags Elitch Gardens this weekend. Here's why: This is one place that honestly has something for everyone, beginning with the park's regular lineup of thrilling amusement-park rides. For teen and adult tastes, there's the cutting-edge Brutal Planet haunted house ($5 additional admission fee), the more traditional Screams From the Past attraction and the Fearanoia interactive maze. Families can enjoy a variety of stage shows, and young kids will love the Looney Tunes SpookyTown non-scary haunt and trick-or-treat trail. Fright Fest continues Fridays (and Halloween night) from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m.; park admission ranges from $20.99 to $37.99. Call 303-595-4FUN or go to www.sixflags.com/elitchgardens.
Monday, October 3
Here's your chance to hobnob with hockey hunks! With a long-awaited regular season back on the ice and about to relaunch in the Pepsi Center, the annual (or is that biannual?) Colorado Avalanche Face-Off Luncheon is the perfect spot to get back in the swing of things. Have lunch with Avalanche players, coaches and broadcasters today from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; tickets are $100 and benefit the Colorado Avalanche Community Fund. For reservations, call 303-405-6128 or go to www.coloradoavalanche.com.
Tuesday, October 4
If you've never watched a hair sprout, up close and as big as the sky, you're in for a surprise: Your body grows forty yards of hair every day, and it's all caught on film in The Human Body, a new large-format flick now playing in an open-ended run at the Phipps IMAX Theater in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard. With an aplomb that beats the plots of Innerspace and Osmosis Jones to a scientifically incorrect pulp, this IMAX feature makes the most of real-life situations, using electron microscopes, thermal imaging and high-definition digital video cameras to create startling images, from the 100-mile voyage of an ordinary red blood cell to the dune-like appearance of a belly button. The Human Body screens several times daily; for showtimes and tickets, $6 to $8 (museum packages also available), call 303-322-7009 or visit www.dmns.org.
Wednesday, October 5
Still looking for a way to pay your hurricane dues? The Colorado Restaurant Association, the Colorado Hotel Lodging Association and the state's bar, tavern and nightclub industry are at your service. For Dine Out, Get Out, Sleep Out to Help Out, dozens of Colorado food and hospitality providers will donate a percentage of the day's sales to the American Red Cross, whether they're generated by eats, martinis or a good night's slumber. All you have to do is enjoy yourself. Call 303-830-2972 or log on to www.coloradorestaurant.com for a complete list of participating venues.