As expected, the organizers of the annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival have canceled the three-day party, which was to take place in January 2021, because of concerns over COVID-19.
"Our first priority as a Big Beers community needs to be supporting our sponsors and brewers throughout this bizarre and difficult time as they work hard to adapt business as necessary — and not by asking any of you to travel and/or otherwise support us in January of 2021," festival organizers say. "In addition to this primary focus, we are aware that our staff, brewers, sponsors, volunteers and attendees will need to feel comfortable and be financially able to join us. This seems like a very high bar to clear at present."
The festival, routinely one of the nation's best, typically includes several evenings of pairing dinners, classes and seminars, numerous related events, and a culminating festival with dozens of breweries. It attracts some of the most loved and most renowned brewers and brewery owners from around the world.
The festival hopes to return in January 2022 for its 21st anniversary.
Keep reading to see beer tappings and events through August in the Denver area.
Wednesday, August 12
Cerebral Brewing has three unusual new beers in cans today. Bird of Paradise: Lemon Lime is a smoothie-style sour made with lemon, lime and lactose. Paper Lantern is a rice lager brewed with Saaz hops; it has "delicate notes of iced camomile tea, junmai sake, and melon mochi," the brewery says. And Lithology is a foeder-fermented table saison brewed using unmalted wheat from Colorado's Troubadour Maltings. "A late addition of Saaz in the boil lends a subtle herbaceousness, blending nicely with the foeder’s oaky contribution to yield a classic old-world vibe." All three beers will also be on tap.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project releases sixteen-ounce cans of a new beer, Strawberry Coconut Milkshake IPA. Brewed with lactose, strawberries and coconut, it was double-dry-hopped with Mosaic and Sabro. The brewery will also debut another new beer called East Coast Style Juicy IPA.
Copper Kettle Brewing continues its series of unusual firkins by tapping its Jalapeño Lager and Jalapeño Sobremesa. Both will come with a doughnut hole.
Cellar West Artisan Ales in Lafayette debuts the first beer from its offshoot brewery, Make Believe Beers, which offers a more playful lineup than its saison-themed parent. This one is a hazy IPA called Starblossom.
Thursday, August 13
Novel Strand Brewing has three fresh cans today. Helve is a 4.2 percent ABV dry-hopped, unfiltered sour beer brewed with Lactobacillus helveticus and kveik yeast, and dry-hopped with Amarillo, Citra, Huell Melon and Southern Sublime. All Magic No Tricks is a 7 percent unfiltered hoppy beer brewed with HBC-586, Mosaic, Riwaka and Strata hops and boasting powerful notes of ripe mango, passion fruit, guava and sticky icky cannabis. A Can of Hops features Citra, El Dorado, Mosaic and Vic Secret hops.
Great Divide Brewing is helping Illegal Pete's celebrate is 25th anniversary by tapping Bad Side Of 25, a collaborative session IPA. Illegal Pete's will be delivering food to both Great Divide taprooms.
Friday, August 14
Ratio Beerworks is dropping its seasonal Oktoberfest lager, Stay Gold, a little early this year. It will be available on draft and in six-packs. "Start enjoying this toasty classic before summer's end," the brewery says.
4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield releases its own Oktoberfest lager in canned six-packs, and for the first time, the brewery "used the decoction mash method" to brew it, a technique that it has used in some other lagers "to create a deeper and richer flavor and color," the brewery says.
Lady Justice Brewing is taking online orders for its first-ever bottle releases; the beers, $65 for a package of all three, are available to purchase online and will be ready on September 1 (they are likely to sell out). Sales of the 22-ounce bomber bottles will benefit Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. The beers are When Life Hands You Lemons Cream Ale, with ginger and lemon peel; Crook & Nanny English Mild, with chamomile and bergamot; and Flapper's Delight Saison, aged on chardonnay-soaked French oak spirals and fresh peaches.
Call to Arms Brewing releases No Touching West Coast IPA. This 7.4 percent ABV beer will be available on tap and in four-packs of sixteen-ounce cans to go.
Diebolt Brewing has a new beer called AtlanticBro, which is describes as a New England Style Hazy Mexican Lager with Lime. Okay. "This beer gives a nod to both a particular style of beer that originated on the Atlantic Coast (that we refuse to brew) as well as a light, mass produced beer, named for the Pacific Coast (which we do drink on occasion)," the brewery explains. Brewed with flaked corn and flaked wheat, boatloads of Saaz, a touch of lime, and fermented with lager yeast. AtlanticBro is both smooth and complex."
Dry Dock Brewing's original South Dock taprooms will tap Mango con Chile Blonde. The beer "was inspired by the popular and zesty 'street treat' of the tropics and beaches of Mexico and South America," Dry Dock says. "Made with mango puree, chili peppers, and a splash of lime, you can expect a mouthwatering fruit bomb."
New Image Brewing in Arvada has several new beers available for pick-up in cans today — though some may sell out very quickly. They include Blackberry & Raspberry Maceration Sour and Double Double Double
Triple Dry Hopped DIPA, a 9.5 percent ABV hazy beer made with Simcoe and Sabro hops. There will also be Terpene By Choice, a 5 percent ABV pale ale that was hopped with Citra terpenes (hop oils). This take on the brewery's Single By Choice series "explodes with aroma when you crack it open."
Lone Tree Brewing is bringing back Karat Cream Ale for the second year, a recipe that includes more than seventy pounds of freshly juiced carrots. It will be on draft and in cans (while supplies last).
Rails End Beer Company marks its fourth anniversary with beer, music and food all weekend. It will also tap a new beer, Turntable Berliner Weisse, a tart 3 percent ABV German-style wheat beer. It will be available with traditional syrups, including raspberry, blackberry, woodruff or lemon pureé.
While almost every other beer festival has been canceled this year (and into next) for safety reasons amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Vail Craft Beer Classic will still take place today and tomorrow. It has been "reimagined," though, as a VIP-esque experience for 2020 ticket holders, organizers say. "While many of the smaller events that make up a traditional Vail Craft Beer Classic are unavailable this year due to COVID-19 safety procedures and precautions, beer lovers will get even more (masked) face time with their favorite brewers at four Toast of Vail sessions, each limiting the number of ticket holders to ensure physical distancing and no beer lines." For details, prices and other information, go to vailcraftbeerclassic.com.
Saturday, August 15
Bierstadt Lagerhaus celebrates its fourth anniversary with food specials, live music from 5 to 8 p.m. and lots and lots of lager. "Tables will be properly distanced, with masks and all other COVID protocols and restrictions in place," the brewery says. A fässer of Oktoberfest will be tapped at noon. "Come get your sneak peek of everyone's favorite seasonal lager, Märzen. Only fifty liters available, so get here early."
Station 26 Brewing releases Produce Stand Pineapple + Strawberry Sour Ale on draft and in canned, sixteen-ounce four-packs. This 5.5 percent ABV mixed-culture sour ale was fermented with pineapple and strawberry "for a blast of delicious and acerbic summer fruit," the brewery says.
River North Brewery releases bottles of Yet Another Stout: Single Cask at its Washington Street taproom. This chocolatey imperial stout was aged in rye whiskey barrels.
Westfax Brewing releases Hazy Wishes & Tangerine Dreams Hazy IPA in cans with four different labels, each featuring a drawing inspired by a different reality-TV show. The beer was "brewed with some of the most citrus-forward hops we could find, including HBC472, to provide a juicy aroma of woody citrus and coconut that we elevated by adding tangerines to this IPA," the brewery says.
Wednesday, August 19
Denver Beer Co. kicks off a four-day-long celebration of its ninth anniversary today by releasing Anniversary IX: Queen Yum Yum Red Wine Barrel Aged Raspberry Kolsch. This beer is a slightly stronger version of the brewery's Princess Yum Yum fermented with red raspberries and aged for five months in mixed red-wine barrels for "a delightful combination of fresh raspberry, oak and fruit flavors." Queen Yum Yum is available in limited-edition bombers and on draft; there will also be anniversary tumblers for sale.
Avanti Food & Beverage is transforming its beer garden into a more upscale dining experience from 6 to 10 p.m., when it will serve up five courses of elevated Southern cuisine, starring fried chicken from Lea Jane's Hot Chicken, "thoughtfully paired" with five beers from Melvin Brewing in Wyoming. Tickets are $55 each and are available via EventBrite.
Thursday, August 20
Denver Beer Co. continues its ninth-anniversary celebration by tapping Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Porter in a very limited quantity.
Berkeley Donuts, which is part of Hops & Pie, brings doughnuts and beer together in a special way in honor of National Bacon Lover’s Day. The doughnut shop will be offering its new maple bacon doughnut, filled with maple cream cheese custard and topped with maple bacon glaze and applewood smoked bacon. There will also be a vanilla-porter coffee cake doughnut, made with Hops & Pie’s eight-year-old sourdough starter with a coffee crumble and glaze made with Dry Dock Brewing Vanilla Porter. You can get the maple bacon doughnut and any stout on tap for $7.
Liquid Mechanics Brewing can't celebrate its six-year anniversary the way it wants to, so the Lafayette brewery will hold an "interim" celebration over a four-day period, re-releasing four barrel-aged beers (one each day). They are Beasts of Bourbon, Candy Bar Anarchy Project, Rally Round the Family and Pocket Full of Shells. In addition, Liquid Mechanics will introduce a new hazy IPA in canned four-packs.
Ska Street Brewstillery in Boulder hosts a socially distant pairing dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. The four-course dinner includes beers and cocktails expertly paired with dishes. General seating is $45 per person, or VIP seating with brewery owners Dave Thibodeau and Bill Graham is $55. Call 720-510-9921 for reservations.
Friday, August 21
Cheluna Brewing, at Stanley Marketplace, releases its version of Black is Beautiful Imperial Stout at 6 p.m. The beer is a project started by a Texas brewery to raise money and awareness for causes benefiting racial inequity and social justice. The brewery will also host a socially distanced Latin dance class, zumba style, which will be held on the patio behind the Hangar at Stanley.
Denver Beer Co. continues its ninth-anniversary celebration by re-releasing its GABF gold-medal-winning beer, Drama Queen Saison. "This barrel-aged beauty sports some serious swagger, with a wide range of fruity flavors and aromas. Notes of plum, raspberry, pear and peach are derived from five months of aging in a mix of French cabernet, merlot and malbec oak barrels," the brewery says. "The base saison was made with wheat and malted barley and fermented with a blend of Belgian and French yeasts as well as sake yeast to achieve complexity and a dryness to balance the sweet fruit flavors and oaky undertones."
4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield brings back Peachopotamus. "This year was a difficult peach year for Colorado. Nonetheless we persisted," the brewery says. "We sourced and hand-processed thousands of pounds of Colorado peaches, just for this grand tradition." The beer will be sold in cans and on draft.
Saturday, August 22
Denver Beer Co. will have Birthday Cake Blonde on tap and in limited-edition Crowlers in honor of its ninth anniversary. "To make it extra-festive, we’ll be frosting the rim of each glass with sprinkles," the brewery says. "We’ll have a few other fun surprises up our sleeves for the big day, so stop by and say HBD to DBC."
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Holidaily Brewing, Golden's gluten-free beer maker, releases Patchy Waters Pumpkin Ale on tap and in four-packs to go. The brewery will block off the parking lot from 2 to 6 p.m. for outdoor seating. Dedicated Bistro & Bakery will be serving food.
Sunday, August 23
Casey Brewing and Blending is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its taproom in downtown Glenwood Springs with a week-long series of special tappings and bottle releases. Beers will be announced over the next few days, but they include Colorado Cuttie, FBP Raspberry + Peach, and Dry Hopped Oak Theory.
Friday, August 28
One of Colorado's best pumpkin beers returns to Odyssey Beerwerks in Arvada, which hosts a release of Fluffy Pumpkin Toasted Marshmallow Porter. The beer's "deep flavors of spiced pumpkin and toasted marshmallow dance with notes of chocolate and graham cracker," the brewery says.
Saturday, August 29
Strange Craft Beer Company turned ten years old in May, and the brewery that kicked off Denver's taproom revolution wants to celebrate — in a safe way. As such, it is throwing a distanced event. Each table includes two sixteen-ounce beers per person, lunch or dinner from the Barrett & Pratt food truck, and cupcakes from Valhalla Cakes paired with a birthday shot of Dr. Strangelove Barleywine. While tables for two are already sold out, tickets for four-tops are still available on Eventbrite for $120.