Think the dining scene is cooling off now that we're well into September? Well, actually, things are still hot, with festivals galore, hops harvesting and chiles and tequila to warm your belly. Here are six of the best food and drink events in town this weekend, plus five more to plan for in the months ahead.
Friday, September 7
Now that everyone and their dog are somehow qualified to open a nanobrewery in Denver, home brewing is officially canceled. Time to move on to fermenting other boozy beverages at home. Enter mead: The vinous, honey-spiked concoction hasn't exploded onto the drinking scene with the same ferocity as craft beer and cider, and it's still obscure enough to garner you impressed glances when you mention mixing up a batch in your garage. On Friday, September 7, you can learn the basics of the brew at an Art of Mead Making class, hosted (curiously) by Denver Integrative Massage School, 1221 Galapago Street. For $50, you'll get three hours of instruction starting at 6 p.m. and end up with a gallon of mead to take home. Bonus: You'll save on Christmas shopping while simultaneously forcing unwitting friends and family to serve as guinea pigs. Find out more on Facebook.
Saturday, September 8
If your mental picture of Italian culture begins and ends with pizza, it's safe to say that Festival Italiano at Belmar, Wadsworth Boulevard and Alameda Avenue, isn't going to blow your doors of perception wide open with its unexpected and obscure regional Italian food. But the two-day festival that begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 8, won't disappoint, either: crispy fried arancini, ricotta-stuffed cannoli, sausage and peppers, meatball subs, sun-dried-tomato risotto, limoncello freezer pops, and pizza fritte (fried pizza dough topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon or honey) are all on the menu through 9 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. In between experiencing culture through food (our favorite way), there will be live music, traditional Italian circus acts, a bocce tournament, a craft market, flag throwing and even a children's grape stomp (pro tip: Don't drink that wine). Visit belmarcolorado.com for complete details and schedule.
Hops farmers interested in drinking really, really local won't want to miss Denver Beer Co.'s Neighborhood Hop Swap on Saturday, September 8. Starting at 11 a.m., both locations (1695 Platte Street and 5768 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard in Arvada) will be accepting homegrown hops until 1 p.m., when they'll be weighed and added to a beer in progress; when the brew is finished, you'll be able to head back to the taproom and boast about your contribution to the finished product. The brewery's Facebook page has details, along with helpful harvesting tips.
Morrison Road cuts through the Westwood neighborhood (bounded by Alameda and Mississippi avenues and Federal and Sheridan boulevards) much as the Black Panther slashes through the roofs of terrorist SUVs. On Saturday, September 8, a section of the thoroughfare between South Meade and Osceola streets will play host to the Westwood Chile Festival, the eight-year-old celebration of the Hispanic cultures that make up the bulk of the area. Starting at noon, hungry festival-goers will be able to nosh on food from Mexican, Chilean and vegan food trucks; Hatch chiles and produce from the Westwood Food Co-op's vegetable garden will also be for sale. Adrenaline junkies can test their mettle in a chile-eating contest (sign up in advance at Eventbrite). Admission is free; get all the details at the fest's website.
Those who want to feed their souls as well as their stomachs should consider attending EatUp! Denver on Saturday, September 8. The black-tie fundraiser benefits Extended Hands of Hope, a nonprofit organization providing girls ages twelve through seventeen who have survived sex trafficking with housing, education and therapeutic support. From 6 to 10 p.m., guests will be treated to food from Biker Jim (Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs), Troy Guard (Los Chingones, Guard & Grace), Mark Samples (Samples Comfort Eats & Craft Drinks) and more. There will also be a silent auction, cocktails, wine and guest speakers, including Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. The expansive Baldoria on the Water, 146 Van Gordon Street in Lakewood, is hosting the festivities; get your ticket ($150) now at the Extended Hands of Hope website.
Sunday, September 9
It's happened to every spirits-loving woman at least 27 times: You order your liquor confidently, only to have the server return and place your boyfriend's/husband's/dad's/brother's/male friend's or co-worker's bland lager in front of you while offering him the good stuff. Instead of silently rolling your eyes or making a show of swapping your drinks, bypass the situation entirely at the Women Who Whiskey women-only tequila class and tasting on Sunday, September 9. Gather with like-minded women at American Bonded, 2706 Larimer Street, at 3 p.m. to taste a welcome cocktail and seven different tequilas without one person beginning a sentence by saying, "Well, actually..." Tickets are $30 and on sale now at Eventbrite.
Keep reading for upcoming food and drink events.
Monday, September 10
Just a day after after the hungry-for-victory Denver Broncos open their season against the Seattle Seahawks, the team is opening Mile High Stadium to Denver diners hungry for food, booze and NFL stars. On Monday, September 10, Taste of the NFL welcomes more than thirty of the town's top eateries (Mister Tuna, Beast + Bottle and Stoic & Genuine are just a few), which will take the field from 7 to 9 p.m. to offer unlimited food and drinks to ravenous diners. Current and former players will be mingling (and resignedly accepting your sports analyses and coaching advice); cheerleaders and chefs will also be on hand. Tickets start at $100 and benefit Food Bank of the Rockies. Get yours on the Broncos' website.
Thursday, September 20
We never thought we'd see the day: Great American Beer Festival tickets are still available. Sure, your choice of sessions is limited (you'll have to call in sick Friday morning), but mere mortals, not just craft-beer royalty or Ticketmaster bots, can currently get their hands on tickets for Thursday, September 20. Whether you opt for beer alone ($85) or beer and food pairings ($160), the debauchery starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, and goes until you're wandering around in a stupor, eyes glazed, stomach sloshing, happy, sated and wondering if you'll ever be able to fit another brew down your gullet for the remainder of your life (aka 10 p.m.) Get tickets while you still can at GABF's website.
Sunday, September 22
MCA Denver has a habit of hosting excellent food and drink events — and its Sown Together Beer Tasting on Saturday, September 22, will be no exception. The museum, at 1485 Delgany Street, is tapping into the zeitgeist yet again by bringing in breweries whose stated goal is to use local ingredients, suppliers and producers. From noon to 4 p.m., Colorado outfits Goldspot, Horse & Dragon, Our Mutual Friend and TRVE will be joined on the rooftop patio by Indiana's Upland Brewing Co., Illinois's Scratch Brewing Co. and Texas's transcendent Jester King Brewery, which puts out the Lone Star State's second-best export (the first being barbecued brisket, of course). Get your tickets, $35, at eventbrite.com before the event sells out.
Sunday, September 30
It's never too early to start planning for Feast, Westword's annual celebration of Denver's restaurant scene. This year's party returns to the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, on Sunday, September 30. There will be unlimited bites from over forty local eateries, live entertainment, unlimited drink samples and unlimited merriment from noon to 3 p.m., especially if you opt for VIP tickets, which get you in an hour early and include an open VIP bar. Tickets start at $30 and are on sale now at westwordfeast.com.
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Sunday, October 7, through Thursday, October 11
The ninth annual Harvest Week, hosted by EatDenver and the GrowHaus, will run Sunday, October 7, through Thursday, October 11. Each night, six chefs will come together to create a one-of-a-kind pop-up dinner at the GrowHaus, 4751 York Street; Sunday through Wednesday's dinners will focus on meat and produce from a particular region in the state (Boulder County, North Fork Valley, Arkansas Valley and Denver County), while Thursday's effort will be a zero-waste dinner. Tickets, $85, are on sale now; get to harvestweek.com right away to snag yours, as previous years have sold out in just two weeks. In addition to great food and good company, all the festivities of the week will benefit EatDenver and the GrowHaus.
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