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
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).
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