Leftover Salmon Celebrates Anniversary with New Beer

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

“You can make a beer out of salmon, can’t you?”

“Sure, we can just put the salmon in the blender, like a Bass-o-matic.”

The members of bluegrass band Leftover Salmon laugh, looking up at the tanks of beer towering above them in the back of Breckenridge Brewery. They’re making their way to a picnic table outside, Andy Thorn playing the banjo the entire way. This year, he and his band mates are celebrating their 25th anniversary, and they decided to partner with an old friend also celebrating its 25th anniversary: Breckenridge Brewery.

The band and brewery started just five weeks apart. Leftover Salmon began in Boulder in 1989 and played in the newly opened Breckenridge Brewery in early 1990. The relationship between the two Colorado institutions has been strong ever since. With the coming of their silver anniversaries, Leftover Salmon will release a new album, Breckenridge Brewery will open a new location on twelve acres of an old tree nursery in Littleton, and together they’ll throw a Hootenanny at the new location on July 18th.

In July, Leftover Salmon will be the first to play in Breckenridge Brewery’s new “beer utopia,” but today, the band is there to design a new beer to commemorate the milestone. “The more beer in the pond, the higher the boat floats,” says Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman of the collaboration. “We’re always conspiring with someone. It just feels good. Plus, they gave us a six pack.”

The band itself was originally a collaboration of musicians from different bands. Hoping to find gigs playing ski towns in the winter, Drew Emmitt and Herman decided to start a new bluegrass group with electric instruments and a drummer, and on their way to their first show in Crested Butte, they combined the names of their existing bands, Left Hand String Band and the Salmon Heads, into Leftover Salmon. It was an odd name for a new sound, but it stuck.

“I don’t know, we’ve got some weird ideas,” says Herman to brewer Brian Reinecke, who is there to make sure they don’t end up with a beer that actually tastes like salmon. “Have you heard our name?”

The band ultimately decides on a light spring beer, something you can pound all day at a summer festival, something that tastes like Colorado and feels like bluegrass. Reinecke suggests a hybrid lager brewed at ale temperatures, an indigenous American brewing style invented during the gold rush. In a few weeks, the band will go back to the original Breckenridge Brewery and taste their creation, “Salmon Tale Ale," which will be released at the Hootenanny this summer and come with download codes to Leftover Salmon’s new album.

“So, this will be the flavor of the Hootenanny,” Reinecke says, closing his recipe book with their final decisions, “rosehips, elderberries, and salmon berries.” 

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.