The Know: The best summer beer festivals in Colorado for 2017
“No summer in Colorado is complete without a beer festival — or 10.
Each weekend from Memorial Day through September, Colorado is brimming with great craft brews in great places — so much so that it’s hard to decide which summer beer festivals to attend and which to skip.
To help guide your palate, we talked to the state’s brew experts — and visited a few ourselves — and came up with the top 10 summer beer festivals in Colorado for 2017. Each features a special element that makes them uniquely Colorado. Take a look:
Small Batch Festival, May 27 in Fort Collins
One of the most impressive beer festivals in Colorado features just one brewery: Odell Brewing in Fort Collins. For the annual Small Batch Festival, the veteran brewer shows that it can keep it fresh with 50-plus beers — most of which you’ll never sip again.
“The festival is the culmination of a year’s worth of brewing,” the brewery says of the event that kicks off the summer beer season. The beer lineup is a flavor adventure for all levels of craft beer fans, with the classics and plenty of barrel-aged and rare offerings. The experimental spirit in the beers is what makes it stand out.
Burning Can Festival, June 3 in Lyons
Not all beer festivals just feature beer. Oskar Blues pairs beers with the Lyons Outdoor games and, as the name suggests, one giant burning can. The adventure-sport spirit and beer pair perfectly in Lyons — just ask the folks chugging a beer each lap as part of the trail run relay.
Check out the kayak races or mountain bike clinics in the morning before the three-hour beer fest starts at 3 p.m. And then stay for the live music and camp out overnight. What more do you want? OK, how about a contest to crown the top IPA from a field of 30 contestants? Then, don’t miss the “King of the Can” competition.
On a sunny day in the Colorado mountains, the view of snow-capped peaks across Lake Dillon’s blue water is hard to beat.
The event at the Dillon Marina Park features more than 25 Colorado breweries — most of which are familiar to big craft beer fans. But the ambiance makes this festival one of the more intimate events. And the price is hard to beat at $35 plus fees.
If you can’t make it to the mountains, put Copper Kettle’s sixth annual Night to Remember beer festival in Denver on the list. Another small event, it features an impressive beer list for a good cause.
Vail Craft Beer Classic, June 16-18 in Vail
Poised to become the ultimate mountain beer experience, the Vail Craft Beer Classic is more than a standard festival. The first day features a kickoff celebration at the top of the mountain with a barbecue and 30 breweries at sunset.
The main event is the Toast of Vail on Saturday in the Village, but the more adventurous can start with hiking, biking or fly fishing trips led by brewers, or attend a number of seminars to indulge your beer geekdom.
Avery SourFest, June 24 in Boulder
The bowl of antacids on the bar counter is not a gimmick. Take a handful, because Avery Brewing’s SourFest is a face-puckering, gut-swirling extravaganza for sour beer lovers.
The lengthy beer list and special offerings from dozens of all-star breweries is part of the reason this event sells out each year. And the unlimited pours will give you a chance to experience the nuance of all the different funky and fruity beers — some of which you can only find at this event.
Start the Fourth of July weekend with bluegrass and craft beer in Buena Vista. Jailhouse Craft Beer Bar owner Sarah Haughey is cultivating an impressive list for the new event that she hopes becomes an annual tradition.
The breweries attending include Black Project, Arizona Wilderness, Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Dogfish Head, Melvin, Ninkasi and Wiley Roots. And, naturally, the event takes place at The Beach’s concert stage along the Arkansas River.
BrüFrou Fest, July 16 in Denver
BrüFrou is one of Denver’s premier food-and-beer events, and this year it is moving to the summer and an outdoor venue. The event will take place on the lawn in front of the historic Tivoli Brewery and student union at Metropolitan State University.
One of the best pairings from a year ago: Weldwerks Juicy Bits IPA and tuna poke with grapefruit, orange and lemon.
The general admission ticket includes tokens for eight pairings from top chefs and breweries with the option to buy more on-site. The VIP ticket gets access to much more, including extra pairings, but it is a pricey $125.
Summer Brew Fest, July 28-29 in Denver
Beer, food, live music and hundreds of your closest friends. The Summer Brew Fest will take place at Mile High Station and features 50 breweries each day, including a handful you don’t see so often.
The Friday session makes this a unique way to cap a week at work in the city (and beats sitting in highway traffic in the mountains). It goes from 7 to 10 p.m. each day, and the sessions feature different beer lists.
Tour de Fat, Sept. 2 in Fort Collins
New Belgium’s legendary Tour de Fat is as much a spectacle — think circus performers, vaudeville acts and costumes — as a beer festival. But that’s what makes it fun.
The 2017 tour will visit 33 cities, including Boulder on Aug. 25, and Denver and Colorado Springs on Aug. 26. But if you want the real deal, travel to the mother ship in Fort Collins in early September. That locale is one of only three in the nation that still includes the bike parade, and it features some of the tour’s bigger music headliners: the All American Rejects and X Ambassadors.
Telluride Brews and Blues Festival, Sept. 15-17 in Telluride
Days before the Autumnal Equinox, the Telluride Brews and Blues Festival is a worthy summer sendoff. The three-day event in the town park features big acts as eclectic as Bonnie Raitt and the Drive-By Truckers — not to mention, one of the most scenic settings in Colorado.
The beer list will impressive, too, with a mix of Four Corners state breweries, including New Mexico’s Marble and La Cumbre breweries, Arizona’s Flagstaff Brewing, Utah’s Moab Brewing and plenty of Colorado names you can’t find often east of the divide.
And if you find more time for weekend beer adventures …
Be sure to check out these other worthy beer events: Denver Beer Sun Drenched Music Fest, June 3; Colorado Brewers Rendezvous in Salida, July 8; Breckenridge Brewery’s Hootenanny, July 8; Great Divide Summer Brew Bash, July 8; and Sesh Fest in Denver, Aug. 5.”
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