In past years, the Morgan Adams Foundation, which funds research for childhood cancer, has put on one of the best food-related fundraisers in town. The Chili, Booze & Brews festival began in 2017 as a judged competition of chili (both green and red) from some of Denver's best restaurants, along with beers and spirits from Colorado producers.
Judges awarded winners for green chile, red chile, vegetarian chile and a "wildcard" category, plus best picks of the breweries and distilleries represented. And ticket holders were able to wander from table to table, sampling spicy offerings from attending chefs along with pairings of craft beer, whiskey, gin, rum and other locally made spirits. The events have always been packed and boisterous, where friends and community leaders met to enjoy a good time while funding the foundation's critical mission.
This year, the pandemic precludes sampling chili shoulder to shoulder with fellow revelers, but the Morgan Adams Foundation has come up with a new way to taste your way through the food and drinks of many restaurants, breweries and distilleries while keeping participants safe. Chili, Booze & Brews kicks off on November 1 as a passport-guided tour in which you can vote for your favorites, earn points toward prizes and bid on online auction items.
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"All of our events were canceled this year," explains Jennifer Burr, senior events manager for the nonprofit organization. "So we wanted to find a way to raise money without asking our contenders to donate thousands of dollars in food and drinks to the event."
Instead of buying a ticket and attending a crowded event, this year you'll buy a passport filled with dozens of local establishments listing their Chili, Booze & Brews offerings. As you visit each eatery and tasting room and take advantage of the listed deals, you'll get your passport stamped; the more you visit, the more points you'll earn toward online prizes and auction participation. You'll also be able to vote online for your favorites (earning more points). The event runs through December 13, so you'll have about six weeks to participate, after which the winners in all categories will be announced.
Passports come in three different packages. For $90 per person (not per household), the VIP package includes the passport, a commemorative etched Glencairn whiskey glass, a pint glass, a hot pad and a gold participation badge. Packages for $60 and $30 are also available. Passports go on sale on October 26 on the Chili, Booze & Brews website, at which point the full list of participating businesses will be available.
Last year's live event landed nearly $40,000 for the Morgan Adams Foundation, and this year the organization only needs to sell 445 of the VIP passports to surpass that goal. So grab your passport and your mask and let the tasting begin.