Beer Man

Suave Fest Expands Its Reach Beyond Latino-Owned Breweries

Suave Fest
When Suave Fest kicks off at Raíces Brewing at 2060 West Colfax Avenue on September 18, attendees might feel like they’ve gone through a time warp: At the first iteration of the festival, back in 2019, Raíces hadn’t even opened yet, there was no such thing as COVID-19, and the Meow Wolf building and exhibition (which officially opens on Friday) hadn’t yet begun construction across the street. A lot has changed in the interim.

Raices is now a thriving brewery that welcomes different social and cultural events every week, along with food trucks specializing in Latin American cuisines, while Meow Wolf is ready to become must-see entertainment in Denver, bringing hundreds of people a day to the area. And although the husband-and-wife owners of Raíces, Jose Beteta and Tamil Maldonado, were both hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this year, they recovered and are now ready to host a bigger and better Suave Fest next to the brewery.

“The goal of Suave Fest was always to highlight Latino-owned craft breweries,” Beteta says. “But everyone is trying to survive and to cast a wider we thought about breweries owned by people of color and by women and LGBTQ-owned, and said let’s do that, too.”

This year, there will be fourteen breweries at the festival (see the list below), all of which are owned by people who are usually underrepresented in craft beer. All but one are from Colorado. Each will be pouring at least two beers, including gluten-free and non-alcoholic varieties. There will also be live music, food and an upbeat vibe that made Suave Fest one of the most enjoyable and unusual festivals of 2019.

The whole thing takes place at and around the brewery, sitting on the banks of the South Platte River, and on the grounds of Steam on the Platte, a 3.2-acre mixed-use project across the street from Mile High Stadium's bus lots and catty-corner from Meow Wolf.

As the first (and still the only) festival dedicated to Latino-owned craft breweries, Suave Fest won a grant from the Boulder-based Brewers Association in 2019. The trade group doled out $20,000 last May to six organizations that had applied to its inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Event grants. Suave was again awarded a grant in 2020, but the BA ended up not funding any events last year because of the pandemic. So Suave applied again in 2021 — and once again was a recipient of some of the money.

In 2022 or 2023, Beteta and Maldonado hope to expand the festival to more out-of-state breweries as a way to bring Latino culture together. As part of that effort, they have been collecting the names and locations of Latino-owned breweries from coast to coast and including them in a Google map. They would like to expand the map to include breweries owned by other underrepresented groups, as well.

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Raíces owners Jose Beteta (left), Tamil Maldonado and head brewer Martin Vargas.
Raíces Brewing
"We want to identify them because there is support and resources we can provide for each other. There are deeper conversations you can have in a community of people who look like you," Beteta says.

Suave Fest takes place Saturday, September 18, from noon to 6 p.m., at Raíces Brewing, 2060 West Colfax Avenue; get tickets, $35, and information on Eventbrite. Suave is strongly encouraging people to wear masks when they are not eating and drinking, and there will be a mobile vaccination station set up at the event.

The participating breweries are: Atrevida Brewing, Ceria Brewing, Cheluna Brewing, Coal Mine Avenue Brewing, Donavon Brewing, Dos Luces Brewing, Jade Mountain Brewery & Tea House, Lady Justice Brewing, Los Dos Potrillos Mexican Restaurant y Cerveceria, Novel Strand Brewing, Outworld Brewing, Raíces, Servehzah (Las Vegas), and Wah Gwaan Brewing.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes

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