Colorado beer calendar: Get funky at Freshcraft and get patriotic at Great Divide

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Tickets for the Great American Beer Festival's thirtieth edition go on sale to the general public tomorrow, and even at $60 a pop, the biggest beer fest in the world is still worth the price of admission. Although most things will be the same this year -- both the good and bad -- there are a few added treats to look forward to, including a retrospective display that highlights the first-ever GABF, which was held at Boulder's Harvest House Hotel in 1982.

There are also four new categories this year: Fruit Wheat Beer, Chocolate Beer, American-Style Brett Ale and International-Style Pale Ale, described as different from American and English pales because they "have a wide range of hop characters, good balance and moderate alcohol, making them great session beers."

The festival takes place September 29 through October 1. I can't wait.

In the meantime, wet your whistle with the following beery functions:

Thursday, June 30

Step right up and get your tickets for the Great American Beer Festival, the biggest, baddest brewfest of the year. No, seriously, get them. Soon. Tickets for GABF, which runs September 29 through October 1, go on sale today. And although it usually takes a few weeks to sell out, the three-day affair always does sell out. Get your tix at www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com.

Bristol Brewing, 1647 South Tejon in Colorado Springs, will release its seasonal Cheyenne Canon Ale/Pinon Nut Brown this evening. All proceeds from the sale of the beer will be donated to The Friends of Cheyenne Canon to help renovate the Helen Hunt Falls Visitors Center inside the park. Join Bristol for a hike in Cheyenne Canon at 5 p.m. and then meet for a beer at the brewery.

Friday, July 1

Hops & Pie hosts its monthly First Firkin Friday tonight with a doozy from Strange Brewing Company, which also makes Hops & Pie P.A specifically for the North Denver pizza restaurant: Cherry Bomb Stout aged on cocoa nibs. If you haven't tried Cherry Bomb, it's one of Denver's most unusual brews, a Belgian-style wheat made with malts used for a stout and topped off with sour cherries. The firkin will be tapped at 6 p.m.

Great Divide gets patriotic with its Red, White & Brew triple-release beer party from 6 to 9 p.m. at the brewery and tap room, 2201 Arapahoe Street. Great Divide is re-releasing two seasonals that debuted for the first time in 2010 -- Rumble Oaked Aged IPA and Smoked Baltic Porter -- and introducing a new member of its Yeti clan of beers, Begian Style Yeti. Admission to the party is $20 and includes three drink tickets, one food ticket to the Basic Kneads Pizza truck, and live music from Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels. And if you show up in a star-spangled costume, you'll be entered in a contest to win one of three $25 Great Divide gift cards. Great Divide parties usually sell out, so get your tickets early.

Cheba Hut downtown, 1531 Champa Street, has a big big beer list -- bigger than you'd expect -- and all twenty beers are made by Colorado brewers. Celebrate that list today at the sandwich joint's beerstravaganza. Fifteen bucks gets you all you can drink from 5 to 8 p.m.

Dry Dock Brewing will feature a cask of Cocoa Blonde starting at 3 p.m. as part of the Aurora brewery's weekly Firkin Friday.

Saturday, July 2

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project has unveiled a few of its sour beers at festivals this summer (along with a non-sour at Euclid Hall), but the one-man brewery will launch its flagship beer, Petite Sour, today at Freshcraft with a tapping party starting at 7 p.m. Currently based in Fort Collins, Crooked Stave is owned by Chad Yakobson, who plans to release four to six sour beers this year. He'll be on hand tonight to answer questions about sour beers, brettanomyces and to raffle off t-shirts.

Wednesday, July 6

Freshcraft, 1530 Blake Street, will celebrate the change of seasons -- and the changing of the seasonals -- by tapping three beers from Great Divide Brewing, Rumble Oak Aged IPA, Smoked Baltic Porter and Belgian Style Yeti Stout. Appetizer pairings will be available for all three brews; the party starts at 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 7

Freshcraft continues its seasonal festivities tonight -- at 7 p.m. on the seventh day of the seventh month -- with Greeley's Crabtree Brewing by tapping its new Cezanne Saison made with orange-blossom honey (one of my favorite ingredients!). Freshcraft will also have Crabtree's "5" anniversary ale in bottles and Ginger Bee. Cezanne is made with rye, wheat and pilsner malts and clocks in at 7.54 ABV.

Thursday, July 14

See the Denver premiere of Beer Culture, a movie that focuses on craft beer and on Colorado brewers in particular. The screening will take place at the Wynkoop Brewing Company. More details TBA.

Saturday, July 16

Avery Brewing will release the latest beer in its barrel-aged series at 5 p.m. today at its tap room and barrel-aging cellar. Meretrix, aged for two years in cabernet sauvignon barrels and with sour cherries, will only be available at the brewery. Since Avery's release parties get kind of crazy, the brewery has some new policies: staffers will serve beer to people waiting in line; tickets will be distributed to people waiting in line, with a maximum of four per person, so that late arrivals will know whether they will be able to get a bottle; and bottles will be sold for cash only. There will only be 1,320 bottles for sale.

Twisted Pine Brewing in Boulder celebrates its sixteenth birthday today with a party from 2 to 7 p.m. in its tasting room, 3201 Walnut Street. More than twenty beers will be available, including seasonal and aged varieties "and the exclusive release of Bough Breaker Barleywine; a strong and rich brew hopped to 120 IBUs with Amarillo hops," the brewery says. The grill will be going, and there will be live music all afternoon. Tickets, $25, are available at www.twistedpinebrewing.com or in the tap room.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan.

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