Like many beer fests, the Colorado Brewers Festival was a victim of its own success.
Inspired by the Oregon Brewers Festival, it was founded in 1990, at a time when there were only nine breweries in Colorado and even fewer beer gatherings. Over the years, the event -- one of only five U.S. beer festivals that has now been around for a least a quarter century -- grew steadily until it was forced to move several years ago to Fort Collins's Civic Center Park. But it has also suffered other growing pains, like long lines, complaints about the pricing structure, competing events, and a rash of drunks.
Which is why, in its 25th year, the CBF, which takes place this Saturday and Sunday, has made several significant changes, says spokesman Marty Jones.
"They really want to keep drawing people and keep it interesting. I don't know if I've seen a festival implement so many changes at one time before," he explains.
Some of the changes include:
The Summit, presented by the Colorado Brewers Guild, is a brand-new feature where attendees can hang out with the brewers themselves and sample twenty rotating kegs on each day of hard-to-find or exclusive beers. There will also be daily beer education seminars "In years past, the brewers would serve the beer, so it would take forever to get a beer because people would want to talk with them," Jones says. "This year, volunteers will serve, so the beer will get dispensed more quickly."
For the first time, the COBF will feature different beer list for each day of the festival, meaning that attendees on Saturday will be trying different beers than those on Sunday.
It's never too late to start a new tradition, which is why COBF co-founders Doug Odell of Odell Brewing and Brad Page, who founded Coopersmith's Pub & Brewing, collaborated on an unusual beer to commemorate the anniversary. The beers is a pale ale that uses apple juice to give it a tart finish. Page now operates the Colorado Cider Company in Denver. The beer, at 5.5. percent ABV, was brewed at Odell.
Playing off that cider theme, the COBF will include hard ciders for the first time from cideries like Colorado Cider Company, Wild Cider and Compass Cider.
The Colorado Brewers Festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28, in Civic Center Park in Fort Collins. There will be more than 100 beers from fifty-plus breweries on hand. There is no entry fee this year, but beer lover can buy $20 beer packages that include ten festival bucks for ten beer samples.
In addition, there will be a zip line and a climbing wall, as well a beer school and an area where fans can talk to brewers. Fore more information, go to DowntownFortCollins.com.
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