The evening of Friday, June 21, we had the honor of attending the 4th Annual Colorado Beer Connoisseurs Tasting, sponsored by Choice City Butcher and Deli and held at the Sunset Event Center. The tasting, organized by Russ Robinson and Colleen Hunt, was a blast and is one of the premier events surrounding the Colorado Brewer’s Festival in Downtown Fort Collins. We tasted lots of great beers, met brewers and representatives from many of the attending Colorado breweries and overall had a great time.
A few of the more memorable beers we experienced: Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder brought some of their Lilikoi Mahu, which is a Belgian wit brewed with passion fruit. Distinctively refreshing and balanced, this beer is extremely rare, only available at their tasting room in Boulder and occasionally at select tasting events. Another fantastic beer was the Great Divide 19th Anniversary Ale, an American Strong Ale brewed with birch syrup and aged with birch wood. Also tried the Pateros Creek Near Da Beach Pineapple Jerk Spiced Ale, similar in taste to New Belgium’s Biere de Mars, but with a spicy finish. All in all, the event was a fine opportunity to try some of the rarest and unique beers the participating breweries had to offer.
On Saturday, June 22, the 24th annual Colorado Brewer’s Festival lined up the white tents and tapped the kegs for all to partake, including those who wanted to sample some of the best in beer Colorado has to offer. First, it was good just to walk around to see what breweries had showed up this year and what they were offering. The Six Shooter Pale Ale, brewed by City Star, was a grand sampling and should be tried by anybody who enjoys a straight-forward Pale Ale. It was a hot one on this particular day, so staying away from the heavier beers was the goal. One of the tap areas in Civic Park had Odell Brewing taps that included their IPA and great session ale called “Loose Leaf,” which was very refreshing for such a hot day.
Many of the brewers brought their best brews for sure, but it was two particular breweries that really stood out above the rest. There was Prost Brewing, from Denver, that really does a great job with German style lagers, and they really nailed it with their German Weiss beer. Another beer that really grabs the attention of one’s palette was another Denver brewery called Copper Kettle Brewing Co. This brewing company decided to hit it out of the park by creating a stout that blew all others away, called the Mexican Stout. This style of stout had a nice spicy flavor to it, but with a smooth finish like most stouts do. However, this beer was brewed with the habanero pepper which left a little burn in the back of the throat. By far the most unique beer tasted on this very hot and sunny day!
“Pull the tap all the way to reduce the foam,” said the brewer, as I acclimated myself to the makeshift beer dispensing area in the Colorado Brewer’s Festival VIP lounge on Sunday, June 23. The other tap was decidedly non-cooperative as it mainly dispensed foam, creating a wondrous mug of head. My fellow volunteer had the wise idea to pour the beer into a pitcher so it had time to settle. So began a fun four hours where I got to fulfill the beer dreams of those desiring dark beer, as I poured the Bourbon Barrel Stout and the Collaboration Szechuan Porter for Coopersmith’s Brewery.
The VIP lounge served beer from several of the Northern Colorado breweries, along with a few from Boulder and Denver. Those under the tent’s shade enjoyed their fill of the beers and snacks there, and included brewers, sponsors, and the press. One guy worked his way methodically from tap to tap. Another exclaimed that the stout was “really good” and “just fantastic,” with a smile. A few were from out of town, like the guy with the Midwest Brewer’s Festival t-shirt. Then there was the German, who enthusiastically explained that the VIP ticket was an excellent deal, and all one needs to do is look at the math to realize that.
As I looked upon the brewer’s chatting with one another and tasting each others’ beer, I was reminded how great the community is among the beer connoisseurs in Northern Colorado and beyond, and I’m glad that we are a part of it.