Last weekend was the Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines festival in Vail. A couple friends and I packed up our ski gear and put on our drinking pants. This was not our first trip to the annual festival, so we knew we had to prepare for a night of big flavors, and a lot of awesome people. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite beer events of the year, one where you can mingle and talk, and not worry too much about anybody running out of some of the rare beers, or waiting in line to try some of the best beers in the world. For one weekend, every winter, Vail plays host to some of the biggest names in craft beer. Not only were some of the best, and most well known, brewers in the country there, they were serving the beer they brewed, and the beer is why they, and the rest of us, were there.
Colorado, understandably, had a big presence this year, including Aspen, Avery, Boulder, Breckenridge, Bristol, Crazy Mountain, Durango, Glenwood Canyon, Gore Range, Grand Lake, Great Divide, Left Hand, New Belgium, Odell, Oskar Blues, Pagosa, Pumphouse, Redstone Meadery, Ska, Strange, Tommyknocker, Upslope, and Wynkoop. Whew, hopefully I didn’t leave anyone out, but that’s a lot of great Colorado beer, and I can’t claim to have even attempted to sample a beer from each of them.
There were simply too many big beers to get around to all of them. However, there are a few that I would consider noteworthy. Three that stuck out to me were Nebraska’s Melange A Trois, Great Divide’s Grand Cru, and Diablo from Bristol’s Black Fox line. But, after only a few samples my palate was a little overwhelmed. I could still tell which beers I really liked, but can’t tell why. Overall, this festival is one that you should definitely put on the calendar for next year, and plan to stay the night in Vail, or have a DD on call, with these big beers it’s tough to have just a couple and still be OK to drive.
Here are a couple pictures from the event: