Happy Brew Year everyone!

Being a Colorado local, I’m extremely blessed to live in a beer mecca and thought this was a great opportunity to highlight one of my favorite beer festivals of the year, Big Beers Belgians and Barleywines!

This year’s rendition was once again held this past weekend in the beautiful mountain town of Breckenridge Colorado. Toby Tucker and I had the pleasure of attending three days of festivities which saw host to around 150 breweries and over 500 beers! It was fantastic to see an ever-increasing number of highly-acclaimed breweries from outside of Colorado joining this year’s ever-growing lineup. For the second year running the festival kicked off at the Beaver Run Resort and Conference Centre with the traditional Brewmaster and calibration beer dinners, ultimately culminating in the lead up to the main event of the week, the commercial tasting.

In addition to this year’s line-up, there was also a pop-up Falling Rock Tap House, one of Denver’s top craft beer bars that featured a curated beer list, free tastings and live music for much of the weekend. As with every year, the event included a multitude of standalone seminars which included the likes of the homebrewers competition, cicerone programs, food pairings, cigar pairings, sensory workshops, and various other technical tracks, not to mention a multitude of tap takeovers throughout the local craft establishments. If one could work up the courage to don the spandex (whilst perhaps not feeling the best from the night before) beer yoga sessions were even available each morning. It’s fair to say I was not one of those people but by all accounts, the participants that attended had an absolute blast.

Each year the series of educational seminars take festival-goers behind the scenes into the science and art of brewing and one of my personal highlights of The Big Beers Festival weekend without a doubt had to be the experimental brewing seminar, titled “New England IPAs: The Bitterness Challenge!” Without delving into detail, this was an exceptional eye-opening and thought-provoking session in terms of how many brewers are now looking at the way IBU’s are measured and the impact IAA’s and the likes can have on their overall beer profiles/production elements. Watch this space as more research unfolds on the subject.

I was once again able to host an informal dinner on a Friday night with a wonderful group of Country Malt customers. In that regard I’d like to send out a special thanks to all who joined Toby and me for the evening: WeldWerks Brewing, Comrade Brewing, Breckenridge Brewpub, Cannonball Creek Brewing, and Dillon Dam Brewing. As I’m sure most Coloradans already know, they are an amazing group of breweries and an even more amazing group of people. The caliber of beers, breweries, and the overall knowledge and expertise of the brewers in attendance was nothing short of outstanding and the Big Beers festivals reputation as one of the top craft-beer festivals in the nation is well deserved.

If you’re looking for a mountain getaway, I suggest tying a trip in with this festival as you won’t be disappointed.