| Booze |

Lakewood's annual Cider Days will serve as a kickoff for brewers making the hard stuff

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Lakewood's annual Cider Days celebration, which takes place this weekend, has been home to tractor pulls, harvest fare and fresh-pressed apple cider for 37 years, but not the alcoholic kind. Until the few years ago, "cider" simply meant glorified apple juice.

But that's changing as hard cider becomes more popular in Colorado, and this year, the festival will bring together a large collection of Colorado hard ciders, along with guest ciders from England, France, Spain and New Zealand. In fact, the newly-formed Rocky Mountain Cider Association plans to use the event as a way to showcase the history of this beverage underdog and its bright future in American drinking culture.

See also: Ten autumn-inspired desserts to fall for

The association was only recently created by a few Rocky Mountain-area cider makers with the goal of promoting the understanding and appreciation of craft cider in this region.

The founding members, in particular Brad Page of Colorado Cider Company, think events like this will help cultivate the budding craft industry in Colorado, and that it could eventually evolve into a bigger showcase.

"It's one of those fall festivals with antique tractor pulls, famous pigs, that kind of thing," explains Page. "But it's a neat place. It's a nice festival, and this is the largest collection of Colorado ciders ever in one spot. Next year, I think we'll easily have more ciders from out of state if we get the right liquor license structure in place. It's a work in progress."

Cider Days runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 5 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Lakewood Heritage Center, 801 South Yarrow Street. But the hard cider is only available on Sunday, where $5 will get you 2.5-ounce tasters from Colorado Cider Company (Denver); Blossomwood Cider (Cedaredge); Big B's Hard Cider (Hotchkiss); and Blown Spoke Cider (Loveland.)

Tickets for the rest of the festival are $7 for adults, $4 for kids. For more information, visit Lakewood's official Cider Days webpage.

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