Beers and Cheers at A-Basin

Aah, Memorial Day. A day of somber reflection, of backyard picnics and barbecues. A day for quietly contemplating the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, and a day for beer. Lots of beer. Lots and lots of beer.

So while Mom is in the kitchen making red, white and blue cupcakes for the family wiener roast, Dad is out in the driveway slapping new "Yo' Mama, Osama" bumper stickers onto the Family Truckster, and Grandpa's sacked out in his favorite chair watching Patton for the 500th time, why not sneak out the back door and head up to Arapahoe Basin for this weekend's Festival of Brewpubs?

Of course, you'll want an early start, because the boozing begins promptly at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 29, right down in the A-Basin base area, with five local breweries offering the best of their handcrafted stock for test-driving. Backcountry, Breckenridge, Dillon Dam, Pug Ryan's and the Great Northern Tavern will all pour heavy on day one, while DJ Jahstone brings the noise. Even better, come 1 p.m. -- right about the time you've had a chance to make a couple runs and drink your bodyweight in microbrews -- the organizers will bring out the Polynesian Fia Fia, a gang of island-style South Pacific fire dancers who perform until 3 p.m.

Now let's think about this for a moment. You've got a thousand blind-drunk skiers and snowboarders hurling themselves off a mountain, aiming directly for the beer garden, where a bunch of folks from the south seas are juggling fire? Screw the fireworks and VFW parades. There's real potential for catastrophe on a grand scale here, and even if not one of the festival attendees misses his brake at the base, goes careering through the Dillon Dam beer tent and ends up in the DJ booth with his hair on fire and hugging a brawny Polynesian man, this still sounds like one helluva luau.

Sunday brings more beer, boards and bluegrass, with Blue Moon and the good folks from Budweiser and Samuel Adams breweries all pouring in the festival area, Krystal 93 spinning tunes at the base, and old-timey, hillbilly bluegrass foot-stompers Wildwood Holler putting an anachronistic spin on the festivities from noon to 3 p.m. And on Monday -- Memorial Day proper -- it's a salute to Front Range brewmeisters, with Boulder Beer, Flying Dog, Mountain Sun and New Belgium Brewing all on tap. Or maybe that's Boulder Dog, Flying Sun, Mountain Beer and New Jersey Brewing -- who knows? After two full days of partying, is it really going to matter? Arnie J. Green will haul out the funk from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Opie Gone Bad will close things up with its unique brand of crowd-pleasing, frat-boy party music from 2 'til 4:30 p.m. (Is it going to take three full days of triple-limit blood-alcohol content and terrain-park concussions to make the perennial purveyors of white-boy funk sound good? Well, let's just say that it couldn't hurt.)

For all three days of the festival, beer will be poured only for those in possession of the magical Festival of the Brewpubs official souvenir tasting mug. Fifteen bucks gets you a fourteen-ounce stein, unlimited trips to the taps and a one-day license to drink yourself stupid in memory of all the men and women who've died defending your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of wicked air. Thirty bucks, on the other hand, will get you a mug valid for all three days, and you know what that is? That's capitalism in action, pal. That's just the American way. So show your patriotism on this most hallowed of weekends by getting up to Arapahoe Basin, getting lit, and catching some end-of-the-season action on the slopes. If General Patton were here today, he'd tell you the same.