The organizers of Denver's 22nd annual Great American Beer Festival know what you want: "Three days. 320 breweries. 1,400 Beers. 144,000 square feet of total beer heaven." That's what the banners say. That's what's repeated over and over again on the Web sites. And other than, maybe, a big, red neon arrow hung in the sky pointing down at the Colorado Convention Center, with "BEER" written in 100-foot letters of fire, when you're talking about the art and craft of advertising, it just don't get much plainer than that. Seriously, what else is there to say? Lots of beer in one big room with one ticket that lets you drink all you please should be enough to get any red-blooded, hooch-swillin' fan of the brewer's art off the La-Z-Boy and down to the convention center for the biggest, bestest, most hops-er-ific three-day marathon of alcoholic excess in the whole U.S. of A. The chugging starts today and rolls on through Saturday, September 27. Brewers from 48 states will be participating (and competing) this year, pouring everything from Alaskan Moose's Tooth to Hawaiian Big Aloha; Colorado will be represented by over fifty booths from breweries pouring hundreds of brands and working hard to get you, the consumer, nice and hopped up, one ounce at a time.
Here's how it works: Show up at the convention center anytime after 5:30 p.m. (but before 9:45 p.m., which is last call) on any of the three days the festival is in town; stand in line, get your ID checked and hand over forty bucks ($35 in advance). In exchange for your two twenties, the friendly beer fairies working the gates will give you a festival program and a plastic cup. Feel cheated? Don't -- because that cup is magic. With it, you can now go to any of the hundreds of tables inside and demand one ounce of cold, delicious beer from the chesty supermodels working the Coors booth or the weird little dwarf with the Gandalf beard pouring from pitchers of Old Wartburg. You can get as many ounce-pours from as many different brewers as you can handle; you can talk to representatives of the breweries and ask them why Genny Cream Ale is so much better than the cranberry stout being poured at the booth next door; you can grab a little something to eat from the food vendors working the room. Then you can get some more beer, start wondering why the cranberry-stout guy is looking at you funny, pick a fight with the cranberry-stout guy, realize the cranberry-stout guy is actually just a cardboard cutout, take a swing at him anyway, then call a cab to take you home.
All for forty bucks. That's the deal of the century. Log on to www.beertown.org for details and for info on the connoisseur tasting, which takes place Saturday afternoon. -- Jason Sheehan
Fetish party shatters the Golden Rule
Smokin' in the boys room is nothin' compared to the delinquencies brewing at tonight's School Daze, a student-themed dance party at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue, headmastered by the Kinky Coquettes. Clubbers who are present for roll call can hang with Denver's in-crowd: Tonight's syllabus includes DJ Michael Trundle and his retro-rock-steady beats, the aerial performances of the Oracle fly girls and some blackboard boogie with the Bobby Collins Death Metal Armada. The Ooh La La Presents burlesque betties are going to rule the school armed with "spanking implements" for any party-going pupils who dare to ditch detention. "Most fetish parties are pretty much the same," says Kinky Coquette Michelle Baldwin. "We want to do fetish with a little more creativity. It's a fun concept, with sexy schoolgirls; who can resist that?"
Traditional prep uniforms that don't quite meet the dress code are highly encouraged, and all students who dress the part will be rewarded with a vodka juice box. So wear those pegged pants a little tighter, that plaid skirt a little shorter, and bare enough skin to warrant a suspension. Then crown yourself homecoming queen and relive your misspent youth as you get down with a little extracurricular activity. Doors open at 8 p.m.; admission is $12 for those 21 and over. Go to www.kinkycoquettes.com for more information. Schoolhouse rocks! -- Kity Ironton
Tesoro Looks Back at the Past
Tesoro is Spanish for "treasure," and that's really all you need to know before walking into the Tesoro Foundation's second annual Spanish Market and 1830s Rendezvous this weekend. The educational festival combines a mountain-man gathering -- a longtime tradition at Sam Arnold's Fort Restaurant compound, 19192 Highway 8, Morrison -- with a spectacular show and sale of colonial Spanish objects created by working artisans from Colorado and New Mexico. Truly a treasure chest of regional history and lore, the event is made more beautiful by the rough-hewn artwork -- hand-carved and painted santos, bultos and retablos, straw-encrusted crosses, tinwork, textiles and more -- that will be on display in the Fort's courtyard from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow. This year there is an additional exhibit of rare santos on loan from Regis University, as well as an inaugural Young Artists Award presentation honoring twelve-year-old retablo maker Jeremy Bustos and fourteen-year-old straw-appliqué artist Thomas Salazar y Weiler, both from New Mexico. And new on the mountain-man front, cannoneer Leonard Marsh will turn the Fort into a regular boomtown. Admission is $3 to $6, or $5 to $10 for a weekend pass; children under twelve are admitted free. Call 303-839-1671 or log on to www.tesorofoundation.org. -- Susan Froyd
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Hydrants get people in the flow of Boulder art
When you're wandering through the Fall Festival on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall this weekend, be sure to look down. Not at your feet, but at the nine fire hydrants decorated by local artists as part of Paws for Art, an event designed to raise awareness of Boulder's Open Studios, a self-guided tour of the private studios and workplaces of 135 professional artists. "We want to get more people interested in the arts in a fun and easy way, because many people are intimidated by galleries and art museums," says Open Studios executive director Gary Zeff. "Boulder is so big on dogs, and dogs are tied in everybody's mind to fire hydrants, so it seemed like a natural fit."
And after perusing the large painted fixtures, which can be found between 11th and 15th streets, head over to the Open Studios stand on the corner of Broadway and Pearl to vote for your favorite; while you're there, pick up more information on this year's studio tour.
The ninth annual Open Studios will be held the first two weekends in October. To learn more, visit www.openstudios.org or call 303-444-1862. -- Julie Dunn