May is a busy month for Colorado — and especially for Colorado breweries. Not only is it the beginning of festival season — several examples of which you can see below — but you have Cinco de Mayo, May the Fourth, Memorial Day and American Craft Beer Week, a national celebration of independent brewers that takes place May 15-21; dozens of local breweries are likely to hold special events honoring the week. Plus, there are maibock tappings all over town; this traditional German-style lager is light in color, but sometimes dangerous when it comes to ABV! For a few examples, check out Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Comrade Brewing, Wit's End Brewing, Prost Brewing and Odyssey Beerworks, which are just a few of the places tapping maibocks in May.
Plus, there are a host of anniversaries, a new brewery opening, and the list goes on and on. If you want to see all of the craft-beer tappings around town each week, check out our weekly Beer Calendar, posted every Wednesday in Westword Food & Drink. But in the meantime, here are ten can't-miss craft-beer events for the month of May.
Wit's End Facebook page
Thursday, May 4
Mai the Fourth Tapping
Wit's End Brewing
2505 West Second Avenue
What do you get when you combine beer geekery with Star Wars geekery? A mashup of the May the Fourth (be with you) "holiday" and the tapping of a maibock, the traditional spring lager of Germany. Leave it to Wit's End Brewing, whose owner loves Star Wars, to create Mai the Fourth. "We fired up the big system this year, and we are also proud to say we used a lager yeast for the very first time," the brewery says. "In addition to the beer, we will have our new Mai the Fourth tees, and of course we will be screening our favorite space opera all evening." Wit's End also encourages any and all Star Wars costumes and clothing. Wear your favorite outfit and get 10 percent off.
Big Choice Brewing
Friday, May 5
Cinco de Mayo/Fifth Anniversary
Big Choice Brewing
7270 West 118th Avenue, Broomfield
Breweries all over the metro area will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo today through Sunday, so you can check in with your favorite to see what's going on. But Big Choice, which is also celebrating its fifth (cinco) anniversary this weekend, is tapping two beers that sound particularly intriguing. The first is Tequila Barrel-Aged Gose, a traditional German-style gose that has been resting in a tequila barrel since last summer. The second is horchata-inspired Oatmeal Stout, which has flavors of vanilla and cinnamon to complement its sweet malts. There will also be a taco-bar potluck; Big Choice will supply "the meat stuffs and tacos shells" if you bring your your favorite taco fixins. This will likely be Big Choice's last anniversary in its old location in Broomfield, as the brewery will soon move to Brighton.
Oskar Blues Grill & Brew Facebook page
Friday, May 5-Sunday, May7
Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
303 Main Street, Lyons
Oskar Blues Grill & Brew will celebrate twenty years of business at its original location in Lyons with a weekend-long party featuring special beers, live music and food. Established in 1997 by Alabama native Dale Katechis as a Cajun restaurant, Oskar Blues Grill & Brew began brewing in 1999. On Friday, there's a crawfish boil and kegger starting at 6 p.m., followed at 8:30 p.m. by performances by Lil Smokies and Spring Fever with Sally Van Meter. Tickets are $15 for just the music, $20 for just the food, or $30 for everything, including an Oskar Blues cup. The party continues Saturday with food from Chuburger, Cyclhops, Oskar Blues Grill (burgers, fajitas, a pig roast and oysters) and a world-record attempt by Hotbox Roasters to make a birthday cake featuring more than 2,000 doughnuts. Music begins at 5:30 p.m. from Interstate Stash Express, followed by Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams at 7 p.m. (no cover). Then at 8:30, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, along with opening band Gasoline Lollipops, goes on; tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of show. And finally, on Sunday, things wrap up with a pancake breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. to benefit CAN’d Aid Foundation; there is a suggested $5 donation. Music will start at 3 p.m., and a specialty beer will be on tap. Breakfast includes coffee from the company's own Hotbox Roasters.
TRVE Brewing uses Troubadour malts in most of its beers.
Troubadour Maltings Facebook page
Saturday, May 6, and continuing through the month
TRVE Brewing and six other breweries
Troubadour Maltings, one of a handful of local craft maltsters that have started up in Colorado over the past few years, will kick off a seven-brewery beer-tapping project called SOWN in conjunction with TRVE Brewing head brewer Zach Coleman, who helped conceive of the idea. The project's aim is to highlight craft-beer raw ingredients grown and processed in Colorado. "Rather than simply making it about 'local' ingredients, we really wanted to focus on the relationships along the supply chain, why that's important, and the cool beers that can result from this level of engagement," Troubadour says. Each of the seven breweries — TRVE, Our Mutual Friend, Cerebral, Comrade, Call to Arms, Berthoud Brewing and Horse & Dragon — will tap a special beer made with Troubadour malts and other Colorado ingredients. The beers should be on tap throughout the month. TRVE's is a dry-hopped saison fermented in puncheons (small wooden barrels). It was brewed with Troubadour Maltings Pevec and White Wheat; High Wire Hops CTZ, Cascade and Crystal hops; and Inland Island Yeast Laboratories saison yeast blend. For more information on the other beers, go to Troubadour's Facebook page.
Saturday, May 13
Here Be Monsters Tapping
1477 Monroe Street
Here Be Monsters, a 13.1 percent Imperial Stout aged twelve months in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, was one of my favorite beers from the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival in Vail last January. But that version was just a sneak peak. This time, Cerebral will release the beer on tap and in bottles ($16 each with a limit of four per person), starting at noon. "Whiskey, charred oak and cherry on the nose followed by notes of luscious chocolate, toffee, and caramel," the brewery says. Cerebral will also release a vanilla variant of the beer, which has been conditioning on Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans for more than three weeks (this one will be limited to two bottles per person).
Keep reading for more of May's best beery events...
Andrew Moore (left) and Ben Gettinger of Intrepid Sojourner.
Saturday, May 20
Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project
925 West Eighth Avenue
Andrew Moore and Ben Gettinger are opening Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project, a brewery that will specialize in "internationally inspired twists on traditional beer styles." That means the Belgian-style tripel will be made with lavender, the stout will be brewed with Turkish coffee, and the amber will be made with garlic. You can find those and several other beers today during the grand opening. Moore, the head brewer, used to be an archaeologist, which is why the beers will feature ingredients from around the world. The brewery, located along the busy Eighth Avenue corridor in west Denver, will also feature maps and travel decor.
Saturday, May 20
Upslope Get Down
1898 South Flatiron Court, Boulder
Upslope Brewing brings back its annual free music fest, the Upslope Get Down, from 1 to 10 p.m. As it does every year, the Boulder brewery will take over the parking lot at its Flatiron Court location (so don't go to the Lee Hill Road location) so that it can bring you three stages' worth of live music, food trucks, games, art, a kid zone, lots of beer, and the Elemental Enhancers, a Denver performance group that plays with fire. The music lineup includes Roosevelt Collier's Colorado Get Down, with very special guests Freekbass, Caribou Mountain Collective, the Pamlico Sound, Sixty Minute Men, Envy Alo, Guerrilla Fanfare, Voodoo Visionary, Arthur Lee Land Trio, Coambient, and BluePrint Metro. Upslope will donate a portion of the proceeds from the festival to Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit that enlists the help of professional athletes and the outdoor sports community to effect climate change. And although admission is free, you can upgrade to the VIP package and get more information at twoparts.com.
Strange Craft Brewing
Saturday, May 20
Strange Craft Anniversary Backyard BBQ
Strange Craft Beer Company
1330 Zuni Street
To celebrate its seventh anniversary, Strange Craft Beer Company has invited some brewery buddies over for a birthday beer festival. The Anniversary Backyard BBQ runs from noon to 4 p.m. and includes beers from Wit’s End Brewing, Renegade Brewing, Hogshead Brewery, Caution Brewing, Copper Kettle, Black Sky Brewery, Chain Reaction, The Brew on Broadway and Very Nice Brewing. There will also be music from Blooming Honeywise at 6:30 p.m. and food from Spudz & Frank’s BBQ. Tickets are $30 at eventbrite.com or $35 the day of the party. And since Strange Craft’s anniversary coincides with American Craft Beer Week, the brewery will also be hosting daily events, including the Westside Is the Best Side beer bus tour on May 13 and a screening of the documentary film Blood, Sweat, and Beer on May 16. Find a complete ACBW event list at strangecraft.com.
A screen capture from Odell's Small Batch Festival in 2016.
Saturday, May 27
Small Batch Festival
Odell Brewing, Fort Collins
Odell Brewing's on-again, off-again Small Batch Festival returns at a new time of year for 2017. This year, the event will be one day only, from 1 to 6 p.m., and will include more than fifty — yep, fifty — different Odell beers on tap. Many of the beers were made on Odell's five-barrel pilot system, and they include sours, barrel-aged brews, seasonals and twists on some Odell favorites. “This festival is the culmination of a year’s worth of brewing,” says Odell's Adam D’Antonio. “For months, we’ve been hoarding a few kegs of our favorites.... I think our brewers look forward to it as much as the fans." There will be food trucks along with live music from Choice City Seven, The Reminders and Euforquestra. Tickets are $35 and include two beer tokens and a stainless-steel cup.
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Denver Beer Co
Maui Express Luau and Party
Denver Beer Co
Denver Beer Co is releasing its Maui Express Coconut IPA for the first time in cans this year, and to celebrate, the brewery is throwing a proper Hawaiian luau at its taproom on Platte Street. "Denver Beer Co will be transformed into a tropical paradise for the party, and we're hoping to see a lot of dudes sporting coconut bikinis and grass skirts, and ladies in awesome Hawaiian shirts," the brewery says. In addition to beer and music, there will be raffles for lots of DBC swag, including Maui Express growlers and a Maui Express keg. Raffle tickets will be handed out with every Maui Express pint purchased between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.