Will it be Hoppy Days for Oktoberfest?

Three brew-related events are converging in Denver. Let the games begin!

Denver is playing host to the Olympics of beer games this month — and it could be a historic one if the city's fortieth annual Oktoberfest also turns out to be its last.

The big ticket, of course, is the Great American Beer Festival, September 24-26, during which thousands of people from around the state and country will drink up. Gold medals will be handed out; songs will be sung. But Visit Denver, the city's visitors and convention bureau, is also hosting its own ten-day fiesta, the Denver Beer Fest.

The GABF itself is a little earlier than usual this year, because it had to make way for other conferences at the Colorado Convention Center. The change means that GABF and the Denver fest (September 18-27) will overlap with Oktoberfest (September 18-20 and 25-27), one of the largest and longest-running Oktoberfests in the nation.

Despite its popularity, Larimer Associates, the real estate company that owns Oktoberfest, said Monday that it plans to shut it down, or sell it. "It is financially viable, but it doesn't relate to our core business," says Larimer marketing director Margaret Ebeling. "If someone wants to come forward and purchase the event, there is some real upside." Events don't often change hands — they usually just end — so Larimer hasn't yet come up with a way to judge Oktoberfest's value or its price tag, Ebeling adds.

If it is the final one, Oktoberfest will go out in style. "The stars aligned perfectly this year," says Visit Denver spokesman Rich Grant of the timing.

In fact, in what could be the most eagerly anticipated political toast since Barack Obama downed a Bud Light on the White House lawn, Mayor John Hickenlooper will have to choose which beer he uses to launch Denver's triple beer threat on Thursday, September 17, at the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Although no one could fault him for pounding a pint from the brewery he co-founded, informed sources have suggested that the mayor may sip a Paulaner from Germany instead. Now, that's international teamwork.

Brews blues: And speaking of beer, one of the state's foremost promoters of the sudsy stuff will be setting his mug down elsewhere. Marketing magician Marty Jones was the head idea man and PR guy for Oskar Blues brewery in Lyons and the co-creator of the Canned Beer Apocalypse, the brewery's groundbreaking decision to squeeze its big, bold microbrews into cans. But Jones, who has worked for the Colorado Brewers Guild and the Wynkoop, as well, has left Oskar Blues and is pursuing other opbeertunities.

Jones didn't want to talk about the parting of the ways, but says he will remain a go-to guy in the Colorado beer world: "Its time to roll on and keep spreading that joy."

Up in smoke: As noted in last week's cover story, "Pot of Gold," Colorado's Amendment 20, which legalized medical marijuana in 2000, doesn't cover the subject of marijuana dispensaries. But the validity of this business model could be affected by a Colorado Court of Appeals hearing, People v. Clendenin, which is scheduled for September 22.

The case arises out of a 2006 police raid on a Longmont home occupied by Stacy Clendenin. The cops discovered 44 marijuana plants inside, which Clendenin explained she was cultivating for several medical marijuana patients. In a pre-trial order, however, a Boulder County District Court judge found that since she hadn't met several of the patients herself, they couldn't testify in court that she was their caregiver. The jury in the case subsequently found her guilty of marijuana cultivation and distribution.

For more on this case and for Mile Highs and Lows, Westword's regular medical marijuana dispensary reviews, log on to the Latest Word blog at westword.com.

 
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