The Boulder Strong Ale Fest shows why Avery Brewing is ready for the future

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Avery Brewing hosted the kind of festival on Friday and Saturday that has made it one of Colorado's top beer makers of the past decade, while Avery's founder spent the weekend touring Germany, preparing for the future, a future that includes a new, 5.6-acre brewing campus and restaurant in Boulder.

The tenth annual Boulder Strong Ale Fest included 124 rare or unusual beers from sixty breweries, including many in Colorado and few -- like Surly, Allagash, Cambridge and Cigar City -- that aren't distributed here. Many were barrel-aged or barleywines and almost all had an alcohol content of 8 percent ABV or higher.

"The Strong Ale Fest is becoming a showcase for a lot of these guys," says Avery spokesman Joe Osborne. "They know there are movers and shakers here, so they'll send some of their best stuff so it can get showcased and get some attention." One of the beers that got a lot of buzz was a dopplebock from Grim Bros Brewhouse in Loveland. The beer was aged in wine barrels -- an unusual trick with a bock -- and then funkified with brettanomyces yeast. "It was really different and cool," Osborne says.

Avery's lineup of 2012 festivals may be some of the last that are held at its longtime location at 5757 Arapahoe Avenue, however. That's because the brewery is proceeding with plans to build a 30,000-square-foot brewery, restaurant and gift shop at 4910 and 4920 Nautilus Court. It would be a place where brewery owner Adam Avery could showcase every element of his beers, which have a nationwide following in addition to local loyalists, and the beer-making process in general.

Adam Avery himself, along with head brewer Matt "Handruck" Thrall, operations director Steve Breezley and several other Avery staffers left Friday night for Munich, Germany, where they're touring breweries to "see how some of the best brewhouses in the world are made," Osborne says, as part of the planning process.

Final plans for the new Avery site are still being reviewed by the city, and the brewery hopes to close on the property in July. Construction could be complete in 2013.

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