The biggest craft-brewing conference and trade show in the United States begins today in Denver and runs through Thursday, bringing with it more than 14,000 brewing-industry pros from around the world. The annual Craft Brewers Conference, which moves to a different city each year, includes panels, lectures, seminars and a massive trade show with 1,000 vendors, from hops growers to manufacturers to software makers.
And although you have to work in the industry to attend CBC, you only have to be a beer lover to participate in dozens upon dozens of tappings, takeovers, dinners and other events in Denver. There are so many of them — involving so many rare, special or hard-to-get beers, that the next five days are going to resemble the madness that is Great American Beer Festival week in Denver every fall.
The best places to be are the craft-beer bars, which have the widest variety of beer on tap on a nightly basis — and the largest, most maddening crowds. These include Falling Rock Tap House, Freshcraft, Finn's Manor, FIrst Draft, Goed Zuur, Hops & Pie, Improper City and Walter's 303 Pizzeria & Publik House.
Denver's breweries will also be tapping special releases and hosting tap takeovers with their beery compadres — many of whom don't typically distribute in Denver. Cerebral, Our Mutual Friend, TRVE, Jagged Mountain, Baere, Denver Beer Co, Ratio and many, many more will be packed to the gills with people and suds.
But there are plenty of other venues with exceptional beer lists. The best way to find them all is to read our Beer Calendar (which goes online every Wednesday) this week. Here are a few standouts:
Monday, April 8
First Draft Taproom & Kitchen kicks off the Craft Brewers Conference week in Denver by tapping a range of beers from Cerebral Brewing and some of Cerebral's beery friends. Starting at 5 p.m., you'll find liquid refreshment from visiting beer makers Deciduous Brewing, Resident Culture Brewing, Southern Grist Brewing and Dancing Gnome Beer.
Our Mutual Friend Brewing hosts Colorado Farm Brewery from Alamosa, a brewery that produces estate beers with ingredients grown and processed on its land as well as being connected to Colorado Malting Company. Of the four estate beers that will be available from CFB, one is a traditional Scandinavian smoked-beer style called Stjordalsøl, brewed in collaboration with OMF.
Tuesday, April 9
Hops & Pie will tap several beers from three special breweries: Bissell Brothers, Casey Brewing & Blending and Ology Brewing. Drew Watson, owner and chef at Hops & Pie, "instantly became obsessed with Bissell Brothers when he first tried their beer in Maine a few years ago," the restaurants explains. So when he got the chance to tap a few kegs during CBC, he jumped at it. Beers on tap include Swish DIPA, Industry V. Inferiority IPA, Umbra Oatmeal Stout, the Substance Ale and Bucolia Amber Ale. Casey Brewing continues to produce amazing sour beers in Glenwood Springs. Beers on tap include the Cut Grape, Fruit Stand Apricot, Casey Family Preserves Peach, Funky Blender Preserve: Peach, East Bank Apricot Preserve, Funky Blender Preserve: Nectarine, and Funky Blender Preserve: Plum/Blackberry/Sour Cherry. And finally, Ology Brewing from Tallahassee will bring some coveted small-batch beers, including Relative Humidity, Heliocentric Distortion, Double Dry Hopped Sensory Overload, Guava Lactose Berliner and Dynamic Fermentation.
Ten special guest brewers will come together with Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery at 7 p.m. to pour at least fourteen beers that were aged in wooden containers from the Squarrel Barrel company. Famed brewer Peter Bouckaert will be on hand to sign copies of his book Wood and Beer.
Wednesday, April 10
Twenty barrel-aged beers will hit the wall at Falling Rock Tap House at 6:30 p.m. Breweries include the Lost Abbey, Fremont Brewing, Jack's Abby Craft Lagers, Scratch Brewing, Ecliptic Brewing, the Bruery, Avery Brewing, Boulevard, Full Sail Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, Garden Path Fermentation and more. In addition, author, journalist and beer writer Josh Noel will be in the house to read from, sell and sign his book Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out, followed by a discussion and Q&A with Falling Rock owner Chris Black.
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Some of Colorado’s most notable breweries will tap their favorite session beers alongside rare and heavy-hitting beers at Freshcraft starting at 4 p.m. The tap list includes: 4 Noses Zwicky P Zwickel Pilsner and Inherited Oak Series #2 Oak Aged Golden Sour with Blueberry and Maple; Cerebral Brewing International Waters Foeder Fermented Unfiltered Pilsner and Under The Stars S’Mores-inspired Imperial Milk Stout; Outer Range Brewing Canvas Dry-Hopped Saison and Spatial Awareness Imperial/Double IPA with Sapphire and Wakatu; and WeldWerks Brewing Hefeweizen and Triple Dry-Hopped Juicy Bits. Then, at 7 p.m., Freshcraft toasts the El Dorado hops variety with an all-El Dorado tap takeover. Breweries include Commonwealth, TRVE Brewing, Comrade Brewing, Epic Brewing, Great Divide Brewing and Stone Brewing. Meet the hops growers, rub some hops and get some swag.
Join Cannonball Creek Brewing in Golden at 5 p.m. to drink some of the best West Coast-style hoppy beers from award-winning breweries in California and Colorado. They include Pizza Port, Knee Deep, Beachwood, Riip, Comrade, Call to Arms, Westbound and Down, and River North. The Rolling Dough food truck will be cooking pizza all night, and there will be live music by Weatherbee and the Gnarlbillys. As added incentive, there will also be free shuttle service to and from the Colorado Convention Center to Cannonball Creek.
Thursday, April 11
Finn's Manor closes out CBC week with an all-lager throwdown of beers from Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Bagby Beer, Suarez Family Brewery, pFriem Family Brewers, Russian River, Jack's Abby Craft Lagers, Fremont Brewing, La Cumbre Brewing, Almanac Beer, Our Mutual Friend and Cerebral. DJs will be spinning all night.
Join Cart-Driver for Little Beers, a Celebration of Saisons and Session Beers, starting at 5 p.m. There will be beer from TRVE, Roadhouse Brewing from Wyoming, and Brewery Bhavana and Trophy Brewing, both out of North Carolina.