It’s summer in the High Country, and nothing quite says summer in Colorado like a festival celebrating craft beer. Breckenridge is a popular beer festival location in Summit County, with both the spring and summer festivals drawing large crowds.
This year, the Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It will be held in the open air, in the parking lot space just beside Beaver Run Resort. More than 50 brewers from Summit, Colorado and the U.S. will be on hand to offer tastes of their various craft beers, which range from flagship favorites to limited seasonal offerings.
10 YEARS OF BEER
“It’s been a fun, wild ride of beer festivals,” said Jen Radueg, beer festival event director.
The event has expanded over the years. Last year, it moved from Ridge Street in Breckenridge — where the spring festival is held — to its new location near Beaver Run Resort. In 2014, it took up about half of the parking lot, while this year it has expanded to fill the entire space with brewer tents, vendor tents and a stage for live music performances.
The VIP experience this year is also improved, Radueg said. Beer available in the tent will include draft beer from Breckenridge Brewery as well as specialty kegs provided by the brewers. Two cicerones will be on hand to discuss the beer styles and flavors with interested guests.
Compared to the spring festival, which often draws crowds of spring skiers looking for a diverting afternoon, “the summer festival is a little more laid-back,” Radueg said. “I think it speaks to the summer visitor in Breckenridge. … The summer festival is more about the beer. We’re looking at some options for future years to bring in some educational elements and just continue to grow on that whole opportunity of making it about the beer.”
LOCAL CRAFT BEER
This is not brewmaster Cory Forster’s first rodeo, but it’s his first round of summer festivals representing The Bakers’ Brewery, which opened its doors in Silverthorne earlier this year. It will also be his first time specifically at the Breckenridge summer festival.
Forster will be bringing Bakers’ Cottonmouth Killer session IPA, his Barking Dog Brown and his Rye’d Open Belgian Pale Ale, as well as a brand-new brew — an imperial Belgian red called Intense Bike Rider.
“It’s very big and bold but also balanced,” said Forster of Intense Bike Rider. “There’s eight different kinds of malts in it, big layers of flavor, layers of caramel and toffee and sweet malts to balance out the bitterness and spice of the hops, and also some toasty nutty graham cracker-like malts in there.”
Among the offerings from Breckenridge Brewery will be the P.O.G. saison, a traditional farmhouse ale fermented with passionfruit, orange and guava. Broken Compass Brewing will have their flagship beers on hand as well, from the lighter Ginger Pale Ale and Chili Pepper Pale Ale to the Chocolate Stout and FDFH Brown.
Left Hand Brewing Company from Longmont is also capitalizing on the light summer beers, bringing its Good Juju summer seasonal ginger pale ale, as well as its Pole Star pilsner.
Among its usual flagship brews, Aspen Brewing Company will offer tastes of its summer seasonal Silver City wheat beer.
These are just a few of the beers that will be on hand at the festival. There will also be some gluten-free options from Wild Cider and Colorado Cider Company. Wild Cider will sample three flavors — apple, berry and pineapple — while Colorado Cider will bring along their popular Glider Cider for the tasting.
Hailey Steele from Nashville, Tennessee, will open the live music portion of the festival. Steele provides a country twang with a touch of rock to get people on their feet.
Muskateer Gripweed is a blues-fusion band from Fort Collins and, according to their website, create “American revival, stomp, shake and holla” music.
Finishing up will be Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, also from Nashville, with a mix of country and rock.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Since the event takes up the parking lot, attendees of the festival are encouraged to park in Breckenridge parking lots, including F Lot and Tiger Dredge. People can either take a short walk up the hill to the Beaver Run lot or take advantage of the Free Ride bus service, with stops located throughout Breck, including near the lots.
Attendees may also bring an empty water bottle, to fill up at the event, for re-hydration, which Forster recommended.
“You need to re-hydrate what you dehydrate,” he said. He also suggested sunscreen.