Colorado's biggest little beer festival returns to Breckenridge for the second time on January 4 to 6, 2018, with some upgrades and improvements. Tickets for the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival go on sale today at 10 a.m. at bigbeersfestival.com — and they will sell out very, very quickly. Here's a quick rundown.
The main event is the commercial beer tasting, $75, on January 6 at Beaver Run Resort; breweries from all over Colorado and the nation showcase their biggest best beers here and often set trends for the upcoming year. In addition, there are three food-and-beer pairing events over the course of the weekend. One stars the beers of Adam Avery of Avery Brewing and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head; the second highlights Jeffrey Stuffings of Jester King and Cory King of Side Project; and the third will bring together rising stars Jeremy Tofte of Melvin Brewing and James Howat of Black Project Wild and Spontaneous Ales.
Beyond that, there are seminars and presentations galore for professional brewers, homebrewers and those who just want to learn more about beer and brewing. There will also be a large number of parties, side events and beer tappings in and around Breckenridge. (Bring water. Bring so much water.)
Festival co-founder and organizer Laura Lodge says the fest will keep its same basic structure, with some tweaks. "One change, the most highly requested change, was to create a central meeting place within Beaver Run Resort," she says about the fest's primary location. "So we are going to create a 'pop-up Falling Rock' in the central area by the pool, hot tubs, arcade.... There we will have some tastings Friday afternoon, music at night, our own bar selection, and lots of space to gather and visit."
There will also be a festival app this year, sponsored by DigitalPour, showing all of the beers at the commercial tasting, the location of the breweries, and real-time updates.
Big Beers was founded in Vail but moved to Breckenridge in 2016. Now in its eighteenth year, it is considered to be one of the best small beer festivals in the nation — not just because of the beers that are poured and its location at a ski resort, but also because brewery owners and celebrities show up in person to mix and mingle.
Keep reading for the best local craft-beer events and tappings through September 30.
Thursday, September 7
Pancakes returns to Renegade Brewing for a second helping. Starting at 5 p.m., if you purchase a pint of this maple porter, you will get a glass to keep and a six-pack to take home. Bring your appetite as well, because Rocky Mountain Cheesery will be serving up pancakes to pair with Renegade's Pancakes.
Friday, September 8
Join Cerebral Brewing at noon for the release of Safe Word in Crowlers and on tap. Safe Word is a 10 percent ABV imperial oatmeal stout conditioned on Belize cacao nibs from Cultura Craft Chocolate, along with cassia bark and coconut, the brewery says. Cerebral will sell just 150 Crowlers of Safe Word at $18 each; the brewery will also re-release fifty Orange Kushcicle Crowlers at $14 each (limit two per person).
"Get yer boots on and come stomp the dance floor with us as we celebrate our favorite year-round girl," says Great Divide Brewing, which will throw a barn party from 7 to 10:30 p.m. in honor of Colette Farmhouse Ale. The shindig includes live music, square dancing, specialty and core beers, games and two food trucks: Wong Way Veg and Goin’ South. There will also be a costume contest: "Wear your Colette- or Hoss-inspired outfits to enter our costume contest or rock your best Western attire," Great Divide says. And don't forget that the brewery recently updated its Colette logo to make her outfit a little more modern. Tickets are $15. For more information on dancing and beers, and to buy tickets, go to greatdivide.com.
Factotum Brewhouse taps a bourbon-barrel-aged version of its Belgian Dark Ale at 3 p.m. It is only available in very limited quantities and will disappear very quickly.
Tivoli Brewing celebrates the second anniversary of its brewpub from 5 to 10 p.m. with a beer festival pouring products from fifteen breweries (all of them distributed by Tivoli's sister distributorship). There will also be live music from the Wildflowers, On Vinyl Tonight and Woodshed Red. Admission is free.
Bruz Beers taps Hibiscus Saison at 3 p.m. "Dusty rose in color with a pale pink head, aromas and flavors of hibiscus flowers, and a soft creamy texture make this a very drinkable saison with layers of complexity," Bruz says. The 7.4 percent beer was designed by Ed Moore, a friend of the brewery. Quantities are limited.
Lowry Beer Garden hosts its fifth annual Oktoberfest celebration. The Friday night kickoff party runs from 5 to 10 p.m., with live music from the Polkanauts. But the real fun starts on Saturday at 11 a.m. with live music all day, beer and German-style food in Lowry's already appropriate biergarten. From 4 to 9 p.m., a mini-fest will take place, featuring Oktoberfest and marzen-style beers from six local breweries: Epic, Avery, Left Hand, Odell, Prost and Dry Dock. Tickets are $20 and include a mini-mug and unlimited small pours.
Freshcraft welcomes Odell Brewing at 7 p.m. to tap the Fort Collins brewery's latest cellar series beer, Pyrus & Prunus. The beer-focused restaurant will also tap Odell's newest year-round beer, Rupture, which is made by shredding hops moments before adding them to the beer during the brewing process.
Saturday, September 9
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project will once again open the doors of its Barrel Cellar and production facility to the public for the one-day-only release of Persica, a golden sour ale aged on peaches. First released in 2011, Persica has become Crooked Stave's signature beer, which is why the brewery hosts a day dedicated to its release. The first 250 guests will receive an exclusive Persica Day 2017 glass and a full pour for $10. Additional pours will be available for $6. There will also be 750-ml cork-and-cage bottles available for $30 — limit of four per person. This year, Crooked Stave will also have an extra-special Persica Sauvignon Blanc available in 750ml format at $35 each, with a limit of two per customer. None of the beers will see distribution outside the brewery, which Crooked Stave rarely opens to the public. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wynkoop Brewing will tap its Oktoberfest lager, Fest Friends Forever, this morning at 10 a.m. with some free samples paired with a bite of roasted chicken and acorn squash cassoulet served in cast iron. RSVP for this portion at eventbrite.com. The beer will stay on tap after that. Fest Friends Forever is "a malty, smooth, and crisp Oktoberfest lager worthy of its namesake," the Wynkoop says.
Amalgam Brewing, a brewery that is forming in Niwot to make sour and wild ales, will release its first bottled beer at Small Batch Liquors at 11 a.m. Ascension Golden Sour Ale showcases Amalgam's house culture. "The interplay between the oak/chardonnay, stone fruit and sharp acidity with a dry finish is a profile we can’t get enough of," say Amalgam owners Eric Schmidt and Phil Joyce, who will be on hand for the release. The 375-ml. bottles will only be available today; they are $12.99 each, with a limit of six per person. There are 600 total. A few bottles will be available for on-site tasting, but because of liquor-license rules for liquor stores, they will be limited to two-ounce pours. Future releases are likely to be in 750-ml bottles.
Lowry Beer Garden continues its Oktoberfest celebration at 11 a.m. with live music all day, beer and German-style food. From 4 to 9 p.m., a mini-fest will take place, featuring Oktoberfest and marzen-style beers from Epic, Avery, Left Hand, Odell, Prost and Dry Dock. Tickets are $20 and include a mini-mug and unlimited small pours.
Ursula Brewing will release Colorado Buckeye, its chocolate and peanut butter imperial stout, brewed in honor of Ohio, at noon. The brewery will also host the Nati Dogs food truck, featuring Cincinnati Chili, and it will be airing the Ohio State versus Oklahoma football game on the big screen.
The last Arvada Patio Society party takes place at New Image Brewing from 5 to 10 p.m. Round four of the periodic party includes a collection of Arvada craft beers served festival-style in the alley behind the expanded New Image patio. In addition to New Image beer, you can find brews from Odyssey Beerwerks, Spice Trade Brewing (formerly Yak & Yeti) and SomePlace Else Brewery. Come meet the brewers and try their beers.
Longmont loves its schuhplattler and its hammerschlagen, which is why Oktoberfest celebrations are very popular here. But dancing and games aren't the only fun you'll find at Wibtoberferst, an Oktoberfest-themed two-year anniversary party hosted by Wibby Brewing. "Coloradans will find themselves immersed in a colorful scene reminiscent of an Oktoberfest beer tent in Munich. With Bavarian flags and festive drapes hanging from the ceilings and local food options featuring German offerings to match the theme," the brewery says. In addition to the hammer game and shoe-slapping, there will be stein hoisting; malt-sack races; keg bowling; yodeling (with prizes); costume contests (prizes for most festive, best mustache, best-dressed pet); and hourly tappings of Wibby beers. The first will be the brewery's Marzen lager at 11 a.m. There will also be live music, cornhole, polka, chicken dancing and everything else you can think of. Go to Wibby's Facebook page for more info.
Sunday, September 10
Station 26 brings back its monthly Bluegrass Brunch starting at 11 a.m. There will be music from HenScratch, barbecue from Turn-In BBQ and doughnuts from Glazed and Confuzed, plus plenty of beer.
Wednesday, September 13
River North Brewery continues with its series of hazy, New England-style IPAs by tapping Mountain Haze batch 3 at 4 p.m. "Hopped with more than five pounds per barrel of 100 percent Citra hops, this hazy IPA is our juiciest yet, and is only available in the taproom," the brewery says.
Thursday, September 14
Comrade Brewing taps its highly acclaimed, award-winning fresh-hopped beer, Superdamp IPA, at noon. The 7 percent ABV beer is Comrade's flagship Superpower IPA that was been "wet-hopped with organic Chinook, Cascade and Nugget from High Wire Hop Farms in Paonia," the brewery says. The hops were added to the beer less than 24 hours after harvest.
It's Christmas in September at Station 26 Brewing, which will tap its fresh-hop batch of Juicy Banger IPA at 1 p.m. "Our wet hops were delivered to us from High Wire Hops in Paonia," the brewery says. "Straight from the binds and into our hopback."
New Terrain Brewing in Golden will rope off the back driveway and expand the stage for a one-year anniversary party and music fest dubbed Wanderfest, which will stretch out over two and a half days. There will be tons of live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday, along with more than twenty beers, including some special limited releases. There will also be drink discounts, outdoor beer tents, a family fun zone, food trucks, a photo booth and free beer cupcakes.
Friday, September 15
Comrade Brewing will tap its brilliantly named Hunt for Red Oktoberfest at noon. The 6.4 percent ABV Marzen-style lager was brewed "with a rich blend of German barley malt and Mandarina Bavaria hops," Comrade says. The beer was "cold-fermented with Bierstadt Lagerhaus’s proprietary house yeast and lagered for eleven weeks for a smooth amber body with an incredible spice bouquet and clean crisp finish."
The Terminal Bar in Union Station hosts its annual Oktoberfest party from 5 to 8 p.m. in conjunction with New Belgium Brewing. Enjoy New Belgium brews, live music by the Polkanauts and a stein-holding competition in the extended Plaza Beer Garden. Bring outfits and your muscles, because the winner will receive a prized 2017 commemorative New Belgium cruiser!
Ratio Beerworks will tap Citrus Beet Saison at 5 p.m. The bright-reddish pink beer is "earthy yet refreshing" and "features a slight blend of tartness yielding to sweetness from the citrus and coriander. It then finishes clean with a tinge of earthiness from the beets," Ratio says.
4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield kicks off its weekend-long Oktoberfest celebration by tapping its Oktoberfest Marzen Lager at 2 p.m. There will also be food from Smoketack 70, cornhole, one-liter stein pours, a stein-holding contest, and some glass boots with the 4 Noses logo available.
"What happens when you brew a beer with some of the best New England-style IPA producers in the country?" that's what Liquid Mechanics Brewing in Lafayette is asking and hoping to answer at 5 p.m. when it taps "a delicious new take on the style" that was made in collaboration with Wiley Roots Brewing, WeldWerks Brewing and Odd13 Brewing. Brewed with oat milk and 4.4 pounds of Idaho 7, Citra, Mosaic, and El Dorado hops per barrel (added in the whirlpool, during active fermentation, and dry hopped).
Swing by the Tasty Weasel taproom at the Oskar Blues Longmont brewery at 3 p.m. for this year's release of Ten Fidy, the brewery's massive 10 percent ABV imperial stout. The Weasel will have Fidy-infused food from its restaurants and some bacon samples from Tender Belly Bacon. There will also be some very limited versions of Ten Fidy for retail sale as well.
Ursula Brewing releases Oktave, its second collaboration beer with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra. The Marzen-style lager clocks in around 5.5 percent ABV, and part of the proceeds from sales of the beer will go to the orchestra.
Saturday, September 16
"Strap on your lederhosen and dirndls, it's time to bring Munich to RiNo." That's the world from Drink RiNo and Bierstadt Lagerhaus, which will host an Oktoberfest party pouring the beers, wines and ciders made by the companies that participate in Dink RiNo. "Oktoberfest is NOT a bier tasting event, it's a bier drinking event," they add. Tickets, $20, are available at nightout.com and include a half-liter mug and one liter of beer. You can bring your own Maß or rent one; there will be a Masskrugstemmen competition (to see how long you can hold a beer mug up at arm's length), classic German fare, oompah bands and tons of booze from Bierstadt, Black Shirt Brewing, Mockery Brewing, Great Divide, Epic Brewing, Beryl's Beer Company, Our Mutual Friend Brewery, Ratio Beerworks, C Squared Ciders, Stem Ciders, Bigsby's Folly-A Craft Winery, Infinite Monkey Theorem and the Block Distilling.
Wit's End Brewing marks its sixth anniversary today by having at least seventeen beers on tap, including its anniversary beer, "which boasts six malts, six hops and six peppers," the brewery says. Tacos El Huequito Family Food Truck will be on hand as well.
Join Call to Arms Brewing at noon for the release of Lenny, a 10.4 percent ABV imperial oatmeal porter that was aged in a single Deerhammer whiskey barrel. The beer is the thirteenth installment of CTA's Carriage House series of barrel-aged, wild and sour limited-edition releases. Lenny will be available on draft and in 375-ml bottles — there are only one hundred available — with a limit of two per person. The beer has "notes of dark chocolate, blackberries, anise, cracked pepper and soft vanilla bean," CTA says.
Loveland will have a day in Denver when Verboten Brewing and Loveland Alworkds take over the taps at the Congress Park Taproom at 6 p.m. Each brewery will bring in three beers and be giving out swag and prizes.
4 Noses Brewing continues its Oktoberfest celebration at 11 a.m. You'll find turkey legs and bratwursts from Turn-In BBQ, more food from King of Wings, soft pretzels from On Tap Kitchen, live music from 3 to 6 p.m., a stein-holding contest at 6 p.m., cornhole, one-liter stein pours, lederhosen on all the staff and marzen beer.
The Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar, which has quickly turned Buena Vista into a craft-beer destination, will host a Colorado-only Oktoberfest celebration starting at noon. All ten taps will be pouring different Marzen-style Oktoberfest beers from Colorado breweries. "Our friends and lager geniuses at Bierstadt Lagerhaus will be joining us as sponsors this year," the Jailhouse says. "We'll have several of their delicious lagers on tap plus commemorative liter steins, as supplies last."
Friday, September 22
In April, Casey Brewing and Blending owner Troy Casey and his wife, Emily, each made a blend of Funky Blender selected from their favorite barrels. At 7 p.m. Goed Zuur will tap both blends, taste them blindly and ask people to judge which one is better. The beer bar will also have three additional stone fruit beers on tap. "The last blend that Troy and Emily made together was Saison Blend 3, the so called 'Wedding Blend.' For that one, they each picked their favorite barrel of Saison and made a blend for their wedding. Since then, Emily has never let a chance go by to remind Troy that she is the better blender, based solely on the fact that the Wedding Blend is extremely sought after. They're asking for your help to decide, once and for all," Goed Zuur says.
Longmont Oktoberfest returns to Roosevelt Park today and tomorrow, showcasing ten independent craft Longmont breweries, two cideries, lots of food and ten bands, including headliner Reel Big Fish. The music begins Friday at 4 p.m. (FACE, followed by Andy Frasco & The U.N. and then Reel Big Fish). There will also be brat-eating and stein-holding contests. Tickets, $10, are available at lefthandbrewing.com. The fest, which is produced by Left Hand Brewing, raises money for the I Have a Dream Foundation.
Saturday, September 23
"Our Oktoberfest lager is fermenting. The maßkrüges are ready. The lederhosen and dirndls are washed and waiting," says Station 26 Brewing. "Are yours?" The brewery will host its own Oktoberfest all day, featuring live music from the Polkanauts on the patio, brats and other food from Smokestack 70, and the brewery's special Oktobefest lager.
The fifth annual Women of Colorado Craft Breweries Pinup Calendar will go on sale today at a release party from 5 to 9 p.m. at Big Choice Brewing in Brighton. Produced by Copper Penny Photography, the calendar features women from Colorado breweries dressed up as pinup girls; this year, the pinups come from Big Choice Brewing, Echo Brewing, Factotum Brewhouse, Golden City Brewery, Holidaily Brewing, Goldspot Brewing, Left Hand Brewing, Mother Tucker Brewery, Something Brewery, The Very Nice Brewing, and Wibby Brewing. The party is free and the models will be on hand to sign calendars. In addition, there will be live music, vintage autos and food from the Chow Down food truck; the Hop Mobile Vintage Boutique will be there at 6:30 p.m. to sell vintage clothing and retro home goods.
Peak to Peak Tap & Brew in Aurora throws down with an all-day Oktoberfest that includes a Masskrugstemmen (stein-holding) contest at 6 p.m. For $15, you can get a commemorative 25-ounce Oktoberfest stein filled with beer, plus participation in the contest. Prizes include brewery swag and gift certificates. There will also be cornhole and Hammerschlagen in the parking lot.
Locavore Beer Works rolls out its own Oktoberfest from 11 a.m to 11 p.m. with beer, games and food. Beer releases include: Das Litre Bier Märzen, Friend of the Devil Schwarzbier, Uberweizen German Hefeweizen, Smokey Joe Rauchbier, and Helles Yes Munich Helles. There's a saurkraut cookoff, a stein-holding contest, a costume contest and more. Contact the brewery for more info.
Longmont Oktoberfest continues today at noon with a full day of festivities for all ages including a best-dressed contest, stein-holding contest and Longmont’s fifth year building the world’s longest bratwurst, at more than 300 feet. Enjoy a full day of live music with Rapidgrass, Bonnie & the Clydes, Gasoline Lollipops, Pandas & People, BIG Something, and Perpetual Groove, headlining Saturday evening. There will be beer from ten independent Longmont breweries and two cideries, as well as plenty of food. Tickets, $10, are available at lefthandbrewing.com. The fest, which is produced by Left Hand Brewing, raised money for the I Have a Dream Foundation.
Purpose Brewing and Cellars, founded by Zach and Laura Wilson and longtime New Belgium Brewing head brewer and innovator Peter Bouckaert, will host its grand opening in Fort Collins from noon to 7 p.m. There will be special beer releases, food from The Tramp About, live music from Queen Bee and the Stingers and the Troubadour Sound System, and outdoor games.
Thursday, September 28
Join Dustin Hall of the Brewtography Project, along with Call to Arms Brewing, at Hotel Teatro, where Hall will host an opening reception for his photographs, which will be on display there through December 1. A Denver-based home brewer and photographer, Hall was able to combine his passions in the past few years, capturing thousands of behind-the-scenes images at more than one hundred Colorado breweries; the best of these works have just been published in a huge coffee-table book called " Discovering Colorado Breweries." To celebrate, Hall, Call to Arms and Rocky Mountain Barrel Company collaborated on a beer called Beautiful Impression, which will be tapped at 7 p.m.; it's an farmhouse ale that was aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces yeast and has "notes of guava, pineapple, and orange zest, with a balance of soft vanilla from the oak," the brewery says. The beer will continue to be on tap at hotel and at The Nickel, the restaurant inside the hotel. This is Hall's first solo exhibition and was timed to coincide with the Great American Beer Festival, which takes place October 5-7 at the Colorado Convention Center. Hall will sign and sell books there. Backed on Kickstarter by more than 300 people and businesses, the book’s printing is a result of a lot of community support.
Friday, September 29
Local brewery photographer Dustin Hall and Call to Arms Brewing will return to Hotel Teatro to celebrate the installation of The Brewtography Project artwork on the hotel's concourse level (see Thursday). The exhibition will include Hall’s behind-the-scene photos; for $5, guests can get a pint and a print from the collection.
Grandma is old. But Grandma's House is only three, and the brewery and time capsule will celebrate all weekend long. Some of the activities include birthday beer releases, a thrift-store fashion show, a balloon-animal artist, Tarot card readings and, of course, mid-day naps.
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Saturday, September 30
River North Brewery, known for its Belgian beers during the first few years of its existence, continues to expand into other realms. This year, the brewery will make its first Oktoberfest-style marzen lager and celebrate with its first-ever Oktoberfest party. This beer, which is "unlike anything we've brewed before," the brewery says, spent a full two months in production, "for a proper malty meal-in-a-glass" feel. River North will have custom steins for the occasion, brats and other fare by Matt's Snack Shack, and traditional German tunes on the speakers. Snag two half-liter pours and keep the glass for $18.
Every year on the Saturday before the Great American Beer Festival, Our Mutual Friend Brewing takes the opportunity to celebrate its fans (and its anniversary) with Gratitude, an event honoring friendship. "We wouldn't be where we are today without the support of our customers, friends, family and countless people in the craft beer industry," the brewery says. For the party, there will be a photo booth, beer specials, food trucks, music, merchandise giveaways and the release of Gratitude 4, a pink guava saison, in bottles. There will also be more than twenty beers on tap, including: Broken Time Blackberry Golden (a collaboration with Spangalang that is in bottles); Gruppetto Tiramisu Imperial Stout (in Crowlers); Gratitude 4; Proletariat Session Ale; Camisado Cream Ale; Sur Framboise Belgian Sour Wit on Raspberries; Wicket Belgian Wit; Cherry Gose; Wierding Way; Inner Light Pale Wheat; Zero Sum IPA; Brown Ale; Novo Coffee Stout; Belgian Porter on Nitro; Brave Little Grisette.
Two Penguins Tap & Grill in Centennial hosts an Oktoberfest overflowing with authentic German-style Oktoberfest beer from Bierstadt Lagerhaus. Each admission includes access to the event, a commemorative stein, two beer tickets and one snack ticket. Anyone showing proof of transportation via Uber or Lyft upon arrival will get one extra ticket of their choice. There will be contests, including a stein-hoisting competition and a costume contest.
Sunday, October 1
With GABF rapidly approaching, Backcountry Pizza & Taphouse in Boulders is once again pulling out all the stops for its Annual Sour Sunday starting at 10 a.m. "You can expect to see the largest selection of some of the rarest sours to come to this great state on tap," Backcountry says. Some of the expected breweries are: Almanac, Alvinne, American Solera, Arizona, Avery, Beachwood, Birrificio Del Ducato, BFM, Cascade, Casey, Crooked Stave, Firestone Walker, Funkwerks, Hansen's, OEC, Jester King, Jolly Pumpkin, La Cumbre, LoverBeer, New Belgium, Paradox, Pure Project, Russian River, Scratch, Trinity, TRVE, Two Roads.