With the winter months slowly coming to an end and spring upon is the season of beer festivals is slowly starting up again. When it comes to one of the first festivals of the year there is no place better to host it than in one of the best small towns tucked away in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Breckenridge, Colorado. So on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with the snow capped mountains in the background over thirty breweries from Colorado, and a few throughout the country gathered in this small town to pour beers to the thirsty masses here for the event.
With so many breweries to choose from it was a difficult choice on which one to start with first, so the goal became to try breweries that I had not had before. Breweries from more small mountain towns, the western slope, and further south towns that cannot be easily visited. With a chill in the air, an empty mug, and a map in hand we entered the festival to see the rows of tents, and the only question we faced was which brewery to try first. After several samples here is a recap of some of our favorite beers that we sampled for the first time from breweries that we also sampled for the first time.
Starting with a small brewery in the western slope town of Palisade, Colorado we sampled the Dirty Hippie from Palisade Brewery. This dark American style wheat ale was a deep brown color and served with a slice of orange to compliment the flavor. A rich wheat flavor with a subtle malt note the citrus added a brightness to the beer. This dark wheat also had more body to it than a standard American Wheat and was one of the most refreshing beers of the day. In a further south direction in the small town of Alamosa San Luis Brewery also made the trek to Breckenridge to serve up samples and during ski season in a mountain town no beer sounded more enjoyable than a Winter Warmer. This strong ale lived up to its name and warmed the body up in the brisk weather. With a subtle spice note, full body, and clean aftertaste this beer will be one to look forward to when it comes around again.
In towns that are a decent drive from Denver but close to Breckenridge there were some very notable breweries with some delicious beers. From Eagle, Colorado was Bonfire Brewing and the Dirtbag Dunkel they were pouring was an excellent beer and a style that is hard to find in the craft beer scene. A rich dark lager with a rich malty flavor and a subtle hint of banana this was one of the best beers we sampled throughout the day. In another small town of the Vail Valley Crazy Mountain Brewery from Edwards was there and for the fans of hops out there the Rye Pale Ale was a beer anybody would enjoy. This was a dry beer full of hop flavor and had the bitter aftertaste that one would expect. However the addition of rye added a great spice note that was more prominent than in most rye based beers, and this complimented the hops and created a well balanced beer that only made you wanting more.
Now it is one thing for us to go from Denver to Breckenridge to enjoy craft beer from all around the state but for the people that live in these small mountain towns it can be hard for them to enjoy the great craft beer from Denver. Thankfully there were some great Denver breweries that also participated in this event. Prost Brewing was there serving up their delicious Weibier and spreading the word on great German beers. Copper Kettle made the venture up the mountain and owners Jeremy and Kristen could be seen pouring their Bavrian Helles and award winning Mexican Chocolate Stout. Last Great Divide was there pouring several offerings including their newest beer Hey Day.
Beer festivals can be an overwhelming experience the first few times you attend one. The amount of booths is astonishing and the variety of beers available cater to fans of all styles. But once all is said and done they are also some of the most enjoyable experiences, and can educate the novice craft beer drinker and even the more experienced craft beer drinkers. Most importantly they are worth going to for the opportunity to try so many breweries from all over the state in a single day. As long as you have a plan and an open mind you may very well leave with a new favorite beer. Breckenridge Beer Festival was a great way to kick off the season, and with many more to come we can’t wait to see which one we find ourselves at next.
Is there a brewery we need to visit? New beer we need to try? Let us know at https://www.facebook.com/MileHighBrews