Photos: The Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival Warmed the Hearts of Beer Lovers

Strange Craft's Tim Myers is always a welcoming face at a beer festival.
Strange Craft's Tim Myers is always a welcoming face at a beer festival.
Sarah Cowell

The Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Fetival celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in Vail last weekend with a series of seminars, tastings, dinners and a commercial tasting event that brings together some of the biggest, most rare beers in the country.

But even as the three-day fest has grown, it has stayed somewhat small and retained its original cachet as a place where the beer drinking public can learn new things, sample amazing beers and hang out at the Vail Cascade Resort and elsewhere in town with some of the most respected -- and in some cases famous -- beer makers, brewery owners and suds celebrities from coast to coast.

See also: Thirty Amazing Colorado Beers From 2014

The Big Beers fest celebreated its fifteenth anniversary last weekend.
The Big Beers fest celebreated its fifteenth anniversary last weekend.
Sarah Cowell

It's the only beer festival, for instance, where you might find yourself holding the elevator for Firestone Walker head brewer Matt Brynildson, in a lift line with Falling Rock owner Chris Black, in the hot tub with Avery Brewing owner Adam Avery or at the bar at 4 a.m. with the crew at Ska Brewing. You might spend one minute shooting the breeze with New Belgium sour-beer guru Lauren Salazar and the next trying a not-yet-released Cabernet-barrel-aged barleywine from Breckenridge Brewery.

This year's fest has come to an end, but if you're looking for a truly special beer event to attend next year, put the Big Beers fest on your list (and start saving your money).

Avery Brewing founder Adam Avery (left) poured beer all afternoon.
Avery Brewing founder Adam Avery (left) poured beer all afternoon.
Sarah Cowell
There were more than 300 big beers to choose from.
There were more than 300 big beers to choose from.
Sarah Cowell
Goose Island's Eric Ponce shared some very rare Proprietor's.
Goose Island's Eric Ponce shared some very rare Proprietor's.
Sarah Cowell
Great Divide Brewing brought rarities to go with blue cheese.
Great Divide Brewing brought rarities to go with blue cheese.
Sarah Cowell
Great Divide also brought some old favorites.
Great Divide also brought some old favorites.
Sarah Cowell

Turn the page to see more photos from Big Beers.  

Black Bottle Brewery in Fort Collins had a mascot.
Black Bottle Brewery in Fort Collins had a mascot.
Sarah Cowell
Dry Dock Brewing showed off its latest barrel-aged beers.
Dry Dock Brewing showed off its latest barrel-aged beers.
Sarah Cowell
The crew from Denver's Black Shirt Brewing.
The crew from Denver's Black Shirt Brewing.
Sarah Cowell
At least the line to get into the fest had a nice view.
At least the line to get into the fest had a nice view.
Sarah Cowell
James Pachorek served beer from his Lost Highway Brewing.
James Pachorek served beer from his Lost Highway Brewing.
Sarah Cowell
Lost Highway's beer handles are pretty cool.
Lost Highway's beer handles are pretty cool.
Sarah Cowell
Big Beers welcomed more than 1,500 people this year.
Big Beers welcomed more than 1,500 people this year.
Sarah Cowell

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