Beer Calendar: Colorado Craft Beer Week Kicks Off

The sold-out Collaboration Fest kicks off Colorado Craft Beer Week.
The sold-out Collaboration Fest kicks off Colorado Craft Beer Week.
Danielle Lirette

Colorado Craft Beer Week roars back into the state this weekend, with dozens of events at breweries, beer bars and restaurants. The kickoff – which has sold out – is Collaboration Fest at Sports Authority Field, featuring 75 one-off collaborative beers made by Colorado breweries working with in-state colleagues, some out-of-state brewers and even a few foreign beer-makers.

Luckily, most of these will be available after the festival at some of the breweries that made them, as well as other spots. Examples include an imperial wit from Comrade Brewing and Crooked Stave; a Brettanomyces beer made with cascara and plum from Fiction Beer, Chain Reaction and brewery-in-planning Cerebral; a triple saison put together by Renegade Brewing and Boulder's Sanitas Brewing; an oak-aged imperial stout made by the Wynkoop and Ska breweries in conjunction with the band Reel Big Fish; and a Belgian-style white IPA that Station 26 worked on with Florida's Cigar City.

You can find all of the events at coloradocraftbeerweek.com. But there are many highlights below.

Wednesday, March 18
Crooked Stave will release Petite Sour Hibiscus and Cinnamon, the first in a series of Petite Sours, today in its taproom at The Source. The beer was first released to Crooked Stave Cellar Reserve members in May 2013 as a small-batch experiment. "Due to its popularity, Crooked Stave tweaked the recipe to make a new batch for public release," the brewery says. "The 2015 batch of Petite Sour Hibiscus and Cinnamon received a modest dose of cinnamon and hibiscus, leaving a slightly tart beer with a vibrant red hue and soft spice notes."

Copper Kettle is pouring a different cask-aged version of its Help Me Out Stout each Wednesday this month. Today's is Chocolate Irish Creme Liqueur Keltic Stout. Gusto's Kitchen will be on hand at 5 p.m.

Thursday, March 19
Colorado Plus Brewpub in Wheat Ridge will host a tap takeover today featuring Denver breweries that opened in 2011 and are among the first of the so-called third-wave breweries in the Mile High City. The breweries — Copper Kettle, Renegade, Wit's End, Denver Beer Co. and Caution Brewing — will each have two handles, one an original recipe and one something new.

The Post Brewing in Lafayette will hold a grand opening of its new taproom-inside-the-restaurant starting at 5 p.m. today. The taproom is in a room that had previously been used for something else and includes a beer engine pouring English-style cask ale. There will be live music from the Grant Farm Acoustic Trio featuring Tyler Grant, Jordan Ramsey and Meathook, as well as free beer (the first one) and some free snacks. The taproom has twelve taps that will feature Post beers.

The Foothills Art Center in Golden will host the release of Golden Gateway Saison, a collaborative beer brewed by AC Golden Brewing Company, Barrels and Bottles, Cannonball Creek, Golden City Brewery, and Mountain Toad. It was made for Collaboration Fest, taking place this weekend, but you can get a preview of it here.

Craft brewers love to collaborate. But what does that actually mean? Find out at a collaboration-immersion class that will be offered from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight through Metropolitan State University of Denver's Hospitality Learning Center. Done in coordination with Collaboration Fest (which takes place March 21; look below for details), the class is being hosted by Imbibe Events, the Colorado Brewers Guild and MSU; it will take guests through a history of collaborations and provide a preview of the festival beers. The class will be led by beer-industry consultant Scott Kerkmans, a former brewer and beer writer who was among the first Certified Cicerones in the world and is a beer judge every year at the Great American Beer Festival. There will also be a panel featuring Nick Nunns from TRVE Brewing, Jesse Brookstein from the yet-to-open Call to Arms Brewing Company, someone from New Belgium Brewing and several others. Tickets, $35, are available at collaborationfest.com/metrostate. The class will be held at MSU Denver’s Hospitality Learning Center, Demonstration Theater Room 208, 1190 Auraria Parkway.

Friday, March 20
Falling Rock Taphouse owner Chris Black has again teamed up with Star Bar's Justin Lloyd and New Belgium Brewing's taste specialist Lauren Salazar to blend a sour beer. Rock Star Part Deux will be tapped at 5:30 p.m. in advance of Colorado Craft Beer Week.

Odell Brewing will celebrate the return of Tree Shaker Imperial Peach IPA this weekend with a variety of activities in the taproom. The beer, which used to be packaged in 750 ml bottles, will be released for the first time this year in four-packs of twelve-ounce bottles, and distributed April through June. Tree Shaker is brewed with pureed Colorado peaches and fruity hops varieties. "Odell guests can enjoy samples of the brew all weekend, local food truck offerings including Tree Shaker infused specials from Common-Link on Saturday, and live music by Porcelain City on Sunday afternoon. The brewery will also offer special cheese pairing plates from The Welsh Rabbit (available for purchase while supplies last)," the brewery says. 

Saturday, March 21
Colorado Craft Beer Week, organized by the Colorado Brewers Guild, kicks off today with a variety of events, highlighted by Collaboration Fest. See more below, and for the complete Colorado Craft Beer Week schedule, go to coloradocraftbeerweek.com.

The second annual Collaboration Fest returns today as part of Colorado Craft Beer Week — and it's grown to enormous proportions. This year's version will feature more than 75 one-off beer collaborations, mostly between Colorado breweries, but some including breweries form other states or countries. The event itself — hosted by the Colorado Brewers Guild and Imbibe Events — will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. “Colorado currently has more than 200 operating craft breweries and these breweries were responsible for $826 million in revenue in 2013,” CBG spokesman Steve Kurowski explains. “Collaboration Fest showcases how these breweries work together to strengthen the industry and why Colorado is the state of craft beer.”  

Even if you didn't get into Collaboration Fest, you can head over to the Falling Rock Taphouse at 7:30 p.m. for the Post-Collaboration Fest Party featuring San Diego County-based Alpine Brewing’s introduction to Colorado. "One of the most awaited imports to Colorado will kick off their arrival with a tapping of six beers here," Falling Rock says.

Denver Beer Co and the Real Dill are teaming up again to bring beer and pickle lovers that fifth edition of Beers & Spears, a beer-and-pickle pairing event from noon to 5 p.m. Taking place in the Barrel Room, next door to DBC's Platte Street location, Beers & Spears includes a flight of three beers paired with three pickles for $12. The Real Dill will also make a batch of its spiciest pickles for the infamous spicy pickle-eating contest; the winner takes home a jar of the Real Dill pickles and a six-pack of the Denver Beer Co beer of their choice.

Odyssey Beerwerks in Arvada will throw a Spring Party today from noon to 11 p.m. with two live bands (Daniella Katzir Band at 2:30 p.m. and Andrew Wynne at 5:30 p.m.); four special release beers; food from Barbed Wire Reef (featuring wild game burgers, gourmet brats, BBQ pulled wild boar, seafood); prize drawings throughout the day for free beer, shirts, growlers, six-packs, and more.

River North Brewery will release the third beer in its lineup of sixteen-ounce cans, River North FarmHouse, today with a party in the taproom. "Distinctive but sessionable, River North FarmHouse delivers the balanced Belgian character the brewery is known for, with an effervescent dry finish," the brewery says. The 4.6 percent ABV beer will debut at 1 p.m. 

Alpine Dog Brewing will release its newest beer, Colfax Gold Belgian-Style Golden Ale, today in honor of Colorado Craft Beer Week. And if you are one of the first 72 people to buy a pint, you get a free Alpine Dog Colfax tribute glass with it.

Sunday, March 22
A couple of weeks ago, Ska Brewing teamed up with Wynkoop Brewing and the band Reel Big Fish to make a reel big 10 percent ABV oak-aged Russian Imperial Stout called Reel Big Stout. The upshot? A party today from 2 to 10 p.m. at the Denver Bicycle Cafe. In addition to that beer, DBC will also feature ten other beers from Wynkoop and Ska, along with food from The Cluck Truck and Barbed Wire Reef, and live music from the Denver Vintage Reggae Society and The Dendrites. There will be a raffle to benefit Trips for Kids Denver.

Falling Rock Taphouse will host its own Imperial Stout Fest today at 1 p.m. Details and beers are TBA.

Freshcraft will welcome Scott Dorsch, Odell Brewing's hop expert, today at 3 p.m. He will be there to talk about everything hops. Freschcraft will sell flights of four experimental hop pale ales to go along with this seminar. Seating is very limited.

Monday, March 23
The Stone and Ska breweries will tap Mighty Mighty Bastogne at 7 p.m. today at Freshcraft. The two breweries made the 9.7 percent ABV beer for Collaboration Fest, which was held over the weekend. The Belgian-inspired triple trippel IPA was made with traditional Belgian malts and candi sugar, but with Citra and Amarillo hops added. Other special brews from both Stone and Ska will be tapped as well, including Ska-Face barleywine.

Wednesday, March 25
Freshcraft will throw a tapping party to celebrate the release of River North Brewery's new canned beer, River North FarmHouse, a 4.6 percent ABV Belgian-style ale. There will be several other River North beers on hand, as well as brewery representatives.

Crooked Stave will release another new beer, Serenata Notturna, today in its taproom at The Source. The beer, which at 12 percent ABV is unusually strong for Crooked Stave, is a "take on a Belgian Strong Golden Ale, primary fermented with Crooked Stave’s mixed culture of wild yeast and bacteria in previously used Sherry Casks," according to the brewery. 

Upslope Brewing in Boulder will bring back its limited-release Belgian Style Pale Ale to bars and liquor stores this week. But the brewery will kick things off with a Colorado Craft Beer Week party at its original Lee Hill taproom at which it will tap fruited versions of the beer, including blackberry and raspberry. The party runs from 5 to 9 p.m. The Heirloom food truck will be on hand.

The New Kids on the Block part returns to the Lobby this year.
The New Kids on the Block part returns to the Lobby this year.
Ken Hamblin

Thursday, March 26
The New Kids on the Block craft-beer party returns to The Lobby today at part of Colorado Craft Beer Week. The fest celebrates local breweries that are less than two years old; there are at least twenty participating. Guests are encouraged to dress in their finest '80s duds. The all-you-can-drink event includes unlimited beer tastings, '80s jams and a costume contest. Tickets are $30 for general admission (7:30 p.m.) and $45 for VIP (6 p.m. admission), which includes a three-course dinner.

Denver Beer Co will debut its Cocoa Cream Graham Cracker Porter today at 4 p.m. by releasing a limited number of 22-ounce bomber bottles of the beer at the brewery's original Platte Street location. It will also be served on tap. To make it, the brewery started with an imperial version of its award-winning Graham Cracker Porter and then aged it on American oak barrels with vanilla and cacao nibs. "This is a bold, yet deliciously approachable beer," the brewery says, "kind of like creating a triple decker stack of s’mores and then dunking the whole thing in a milk shake." There will also be a special chocolate pairing during the event.

Friday, March 27
Falling Rock Taphouse will host its own Sour Fest today at 5:30 p.m. as a way to wrap up Colorado Craft Beer Week. Firestone Walker has confirmed a special sour for the evening. The rest is TBA.

Dry Dock Brewing will host a Colorado Beer Book Showcase from 4 to 7 p.m. today in the Canoe Room at its North Dock location. Meet the authors of three Colorado beer titles: "Colorado Breweries," by Dan Rabin; "Colorado's Top Brewers," by Emily Hutto; and "Mountain Brew," by Ed Sealover. Guests can purchase books and get them signed at this event.

It's rare beer night at Freshcraft, which will welcome Longmont's two biggest breweries, Left Hand and Oskar Blues at 7 p.m. Beers on tap include: Left Hand Smoke Jumper, Left Hand Oak Wake Up Dead, Left Hand Milk Stout, Oskar Blues Bolivia Newton John (Coffee Stout), Oskar Blues Don’t Beer the Reaper (Multigrain Harvest Ale, Oskar Blues Tickled Pink (saison w/ raspberries).

Saturday, March 28
Featuring beers brewed with rye malt, today's first Rye the Hell Not Rye Fest involves ten local breweries and benefits the MaxFund No-Kill Animal Shelter and Adoption Center. Participating breweries include The Brew on Broadway (The BoB), Chain Reaction Brewing Company, Baere Brewing Company, Renegade Brewing Company, Black Sky Brewery, Strange Craft Beer Company, Wit's End Brewing Company, FERMÆNTRA, Brewery Rickoli Ltd. and CAUTION: Brewing. Rye the Hell Not takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. at Black Sky Brewing; tickets, $35, are available at participating breweries.

Hops & Pie will host an insane Sour & Wild Fest today, beginning at noon. The beer list includes Cantillon Cuvee Saint-Gilloise, Cascade Blackcap Raspberry, Crooked Stave Progenitor, Epic Brewing Elder Brett, New Holland Blue Sunday Sour, Crooked Stave Flor d'Lees, Siren/Prairie Ratchet, Brasserie De Blaugies/Hill Farmstead La Vermontoise, Almanac Farmer's Reserve Blueberry, Evil Twin/Intangible Ales Sour Bikini, Crooked Stave Origins. Sante Fe Brewing Kriek, Lost Abbey Cuvee De Tommme, Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett, Russian River Consecration, Mikkeller SpontanRosehip, Firestone Walker Bretta Weisse. No tickets are necessary. There will be flights and single pours available. 

The third annual Hops + Handrails Beer Fest & Rail Jam, hosted by Left Hand Brewing in Longmont's Roosevelt Park, returns today from noon to 5 p.m., featuring beers from fifty different craft breweries and a totally sick forty-foot snowboard ramp where local pros will test their mettle in a competition, doing flips and tricks. The event also includes live music, local food and a kids' park. Tickets are $30 for the beer fest and Rail Jam, and $10 for just the Jam. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.; the beer fest runs from noon to 4:45; the rail jam goes from 1:45 to 5 p.m.; and the awards ceremony is at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, April 1
As Great Divide preps for its new warehouse and packaging line in River North, it has been organizing and cleaning out its current cellar - and everything must go! This year's version of the brewery's well-regarded barleywine, Old Ruffian, just hit shelves (and a barrel-aged version may also be out soon), but Great Divide will sell off seventy cases ($60 per case, limit of two per person) today of its 2012 Old Ruffian. This one-time case sale starts at 4 p.m., and you can buy a ticket in the taproom — "then head over to the tank farm to retrieve your glorious prize," the brewery says.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan

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