Yee-haw! Twenty-four Colorado breweries will round up some wild firkins this weekend and drive them down to Colorado Springs for the seventh annual Firkin Rendezvous.
Hosted by Bristol Brewing Company, the rendezvous -- February 19 from 1 to 5 p.m. -- is a fundraiser for the Colorado Brewers Guild, a lobbying group. And it features beers that hop heads and malt maniacs won't be able to find anywhere else.
Firkins are small, nine- to ten-gallon kegs popular in the United Kingdom. Brewers often take one of their regular beers and add ingredients to a firkin to put a new spin on it. Then the contents are served cask style, meaning they don't have added carbonation from a tap.
Examples of ingredients that are added include vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, raspberry, and of course, more hops. Lots more hops.
"It's an ancient style," says Bristol Brewing spokeswoman Laura Long. "Firkins allow beer to be fermented, conditioned and served all I the same vessel."
It's also a style that is quickly gaining in popularity as Colorado breweries like Oskar Blues, Left Hand and Wynkoop cook up special firkins for events in their own tasting rooms and in restaurants like Hops & Pie, Euclid Hall and City, O' City, that are part of the Front Range's burgeoning craft beer culture.
"When we first started doing this, we had to send out an email explaining what firkins were," Long says. "But now, I had to turn people away from this year's festival."
One of those that got left out this year was Oskar Blues, which has recently ramped up its firkin program. "We'd love to have a hundred breweries, but we host the event in our brewery, which is small, and we only have room for 250 attendees.
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And for $35, those attendees will receive unlimited tastes, complimentary snacks from local restaurants and a commemorative glass. But the event will sell out, Long adds, so call the brewery, 1647 South Tejon Street in Colorado Springs, soon for tickets.
The breweries bringing firkins are: New Belgium, Odell, Avery, Wynkoop, Left Hand, Great Divide, Ska, Steamworks, Boulder Beer, Tommyknocker, Dry Dock, Rockyard, Kannah Creek, Pagosa Springs, Carver, Trinity, Phanton Canyon, Durango, Colorado Boy, Black Fox, 3 Barrel, San Luis Valley, Glenwood Canyon and Bristol.