After a decade of bringing craft brews to the mountains in an outdoor festival environment, the Breckenridge Beer Festival now attracts hundreds of people and dozens of breweries for its annual spring and summer events. This weekend, the event will feature more than 45 breweries sampling over 100 beers, and, because the event has grown so much since its inception, smaller breweries around the state are looking to get in on the action.
“There’s more people, more breweries, and one of the cool things I find is the festival now attracts a lot of smaller breweries as well trying to get their name out there,” said Jen Radueg, event director with Radiate Live Event. “So we have some of the bigger, more established breweries that have been around longer, but it’s neat because every year people will apply to be at event, and it really showcases the depth of craft beer in the state as well as around the region.”
The 11th annual Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival returns Saturday, July 9 from 1–6 p.m. at an outdoor location at Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center with beer tastings, live music and food.
There will be samplings of over 100 craft beers at the festival from local, regional and national breweries. From Breckenridge Brewery, head brewer Jimmy Walker said he is bringing his Ocean Cake key lime gose. Gose is a term for a salty, sour German wheat style of beer dating back to the 1700s.
“We added key lime juice and orange peel to make it almost like a margarita beer,” he said.
Breckenridge Brewery has been attending the festival since its inception, and Walker said it’s a good chance to showcase all of the experimental beers they have been trying at the brewery, ones that are only available locally.
“Now that we have started really focusing more on experimental beers at this location, whereas we kind of dabbled in it before, now that’s pretty much all I’m doing up here,” he said. “The beer fests now are really exciting because I get to bring stuff that I made up here personally, recipes I developed, showing off what we’re doing. A lot of people have no idea that we make all these different beers, but they’re only available at the brew pub.”
From Denver, Chad Bratt of Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery said this is the company’s third year doing both the spring and summer festivals. The brewery is bringing its Paria Belgian Pale Ale, Cattywampus Grapefruit Double IPA and Walk off Wit to the party.
“There’s always good bands, beer and people at the Breck festivals,” he said. “It’s one of our favorite festivals to attend.”
From Lyons, Oskar Blues Brewery will be bringing its Beerito-Mexican Lager, IPA-American IPA, Dales Pale Ale, Pinner-Session IPA, Mamas Little Yella Pills-Bohemian Pilsner, Old Chub-Scotch Ale and Priscilla-American White Wit Wheat.
“The highlight of the summer brew fest is being able to ride our bikes before the festival and sharing our beer with the mountain folks with whom we share similar values,” said Thomas Appel of Oskar Blues. “Ride bikes, drink beer, repeat.”
As for food vendors, Cajun, gyros, burgers and brats, Indian and roasted nuts are some of what will be on hand.
BESIDES THE BEER
New this year: Only those holding pre-purchased tickets will be allowed to enter the festival for the first hour. All of the breweries will be bringing out special releases and harder-to-find beers for this initial hour, Radueg said. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time or at Alpine Sports in Breckenridge before 5:30 Friday, or from 8–10:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Last year, the festival introduced the Sapparo Karaoke Stage, which will return after a successful debut, Radueg said, for those looking to belt out some tunes after consuming a few brews.
Also at Peak 9, Beaver Run Resort will continue the craft-beer program from last year. It features rotating taps and craft beer tastings, Radueg said.
“It’s a good opportunity if people are staying at Beaver Run or they’re at the fest, they can go into Peak 9 and check out some of the beers they have on tap,” she said. “They do that all the time, so, once a month, they will do something special, with a special release or something.”
The VIP area will, as always, feature specialty beers poured in a private area and will include a meal.
Three Colorado bands will be keeping the crowd moving throughout the day. The Burroughs from Greeley will kick the festival off with a rock and country sound before Not Quite Kinds from Denver take the stage with reggae tunes. Wasteland Hop out of Fort Collins will round out the day with a rock, hip-hop vibe, Radueg said.
Ticket costs for the Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival are $27.50 for unlimited tasting access and a 5-ounce commemorative tasting cup if pre-purchased by July 8 or $35 if purchased the day of the event. VIP access passes — including a commemorative glass mug, VIP event entrance, covered seating, full specialty beers and sodas, catered lunch and private restrooms — are $67.50 if pre-purchased by July 8 or $80 the day of the event. Brewers provide a private selection of exclusive beers for VIP participants. All attendees need a ticket to enter the event, so a non-drinking General Admission ticket can be purchased for $5 in advance or day of. The 2016 Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival supports the Samantha Remington Angel Heart Foundation.
“It’s great to be in Breckenridge in the summertime,” Radueg said. “It’s nice and cool, it’s a fun area, and, to have it at the base of the mountains by Beaver Run, it’s just really fun.”