Changes to Fort Collins brew fest divide drunks, craft beer enthusiasts

Summer in Colorado means beer and, even better, beer festivals -- from the Chili Pepper & Brew Fest in Snowmass to the Rails & Ales Brewfest outside Alamosa to the Summer Brew Fest in Denver -- bringing together the sloppy drunk and the snobbiest, cultured beer connoisseurs in disharmonious consumption.

But Fort Collins, which will host the annual Colorado Brewers' Festival June 26 and 27, is taking steps to weed out the urinating drunkards who cause problems for vendors and police by moving the festival away from Old Town Square to Civic Center Park, charging more for tickets, cutting the hours and limiting the number of tickets sold.

The unwashed masses are sure to be upset with the dilution of the event, a "new, exciting format" brewed up by the Fort Collins Downtown Business Association. But, as one brew company rep says, maybe less is more.

"People are really using these events to just drink too much. A lot of people come out and after a few hours their palettes are shot," says Pat Moe, sales manager for Boulder's Avery Brewing Company, which participates in the event each year. "The people who are paying more are the people who are more likely to use the event for what it's meant."

And the event is meant to showcase Colorado's tasty beer culture, not its heaviest drinkers.

Advance tickets are now $35, and unlike in years past, that only covers one of three three-hour sessions rather than the entire day. Day-of tickets will be $45, if they're sold at all. (Click here for info on tickets, which went on sale today.) Only 5,000 tickets will be sold for each session. (See schedule below.)

"In a three-hour session you can really drink a lot of different beers," says Moe, who has no problem with the new format. "We love people getting a buzz -- it's beer, you're supposed to enjoy it -- but there are those people who are just trying to drink too much in a short amount of time."

Chris Lennert, vice president of operation for Longmont's Left Hand Brewing Company, says the overhaul has even more benefits. "The one thing that we're excited about, we actually get to pour, so we can talk to the consumer," Lennert says. Previously, the festival depended on volunteers to hand out the brews.


* SATURDAY Session #1: 12:00-3:00pm (entry to grounds beginning at 11:00am) * SATURDAY Session #2: 3:00-6:00pm (entry to grounds beginning at 11:00am) * SUNDAY Session: 12:00-4:00pm (entry to grounds beginning at 11:00am)

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J. David McSwane
Contact: J. David McSwane