By Peggy Lyle
Sometimes a delicious craft beer can make all the difference…and it has in Colorado. The Colorado brewing industry began around 1859 and served the territory populations who were settling the West. In Colorado, the most famous brewery started as Golden Brewery in 1873, today they are known to the greater world as Coors Brewing Company. Currently, Colorado and Fort Collins boast some of the industries largest craft breweries, including New Belgium Brewing Company. These businesses have helped shape Colorado, the ways Coloradoans identify themselves and how the nation experiences Colorado summertime.
One of the best ways to experience this craft beer industry first hand is to come to one of the many beer related events, festivals or tours in Colorado. There is no shortage of great tasting “barley juice” and atmosphere to go along with them. The pinnacle of craft beer celebrations this summer is the Colorado Brewers’ Festival hosted in historic Downtown Fort Collins. Over two decades ago, Fort Collins’ brewery owners Doug Odell (Odell Brewing Company) and Scott Smith (Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing Co.) approached the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association with an idea to create an event celebrating local brewing; 24 years later the Colorado Brewers’ Festival is one of the region’s most nationally acclaimed events.
This outdoor festival offers patrons a chance to leisurely taste their choice of over 80 Colorado brews that would otherwise not be presented in one collective setting. The festival’s tasting setting is “Colorado casual,” filled with Colorado sunshine and paired with live Colorado music. After a decade of steep growth, the Colorado music scene has blown up in popularity much like the beer industry and has fostered many great national music acts. This year’s festival will showcase Colorado bands including: Post Paradise, Bop Skizzum and Saturday headliner, Euforquestra on the Bohemian Foundation Music Sponsor Main Stage.
Over 40 Colorado breweries will bring their finest creations for this event to showcase their individual breweries’ personality and diversity of styles. Attendees traveling from across the nation and out-of-town brewers will be welcomed by the festival’s nine local host breweries. This group of successful and noteworthy breweries includes Big Horn Brewing Company/C.B Potts, Black Bottle Brewery, Budweiser, Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing, Fort Collins Brewery, Funkwerks, Odell Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing and Pateros Creek Brewing Company.
The passion to brew beer is alive and well in Colorado as it is across the nation. Places like Ashville, NC, Milwaukee, WI and Portland, OR have dedicated themselves to the passion of brewing a great beer. But Colorado is taking the scene by storm and the proof is in the pudding. Among other accomplishments the state hosts the Great American Beer Festival, which is one of the most recognized beer festivals for aficionados, brewers and awards. And a shining star in the Rocky Mountain brewing scene, Fort Collins boasts the most breweries per capita of any city in Colorado.
Chances to taste these artistic creations and learn more about the brewing process are available to attendees in multiple ways at this June event. Beer lovers can come to both the Friday Night Connoisseur event and enjoy the weekend’s VIP tasting experiences. Serious beer geeks can meet master brewers and talk shop while tasting limited craft beers. These two features of the festival provide intimate experiences where exclusive beers will be served from many Colorado breweries including award-winning breweries Odell Brewing Co. and Funkwerks. A smaller brewery in Fort Collins, Funkwerks has certainly earned a big name, winning the title of small brewing company and small brewing company brewer of the year at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. Odell Brewing Company has long been a leading presence and inspiration for Fort Collins and Colorado craft brewing. Founded in 1989, Odell Brewing has consistently won awards including multiple gold medals for their 5 Barrel Pale Ale, Indian Style Pale Ale and Easy Street Wheat.
It seems a natural fit that this collective brewery event is hosted in Fort Collins, a synergistic brewing city. The Fort Collins breweries recently finished a collaborative brewing project for American Craft Beer Week, demonstrating that the brewing community is a tight knit and friendly one. Over 40 statewide breweries are coming to town including: Blue Moon Brewing Co., Boulder Beer Company, Breckenridge Brewery, Great Divide Brewing Company, Left Hand Brewing Co., Oskar Blues, Telluride Brewing Co and Wynkoop Brewing Company.
The collective effect made by beer and the brewing industry on Colorado is huge. Its legacy is one of big industry names, leaders in green business practices, innovation, fabulous beers and memorable collective celebrations. This summer, in honor of Colorado beer heritage, fans can celebrate a long history with a cold Colorado beer at this summer’s ultimate outdoor beer event, the Colorado Brewers’ Festival.
THE COLRADO BREWERS’ FESTIVAL DETAILS:
• Date: Saturday, June 22nd & Sunday, June 23rd
• Time: General Hours 12:00-6:00pm (VIP Lounge Opens 11:00am each day)
• Location: Civic Center Area (Laporte Ave. and Howes St) Downtown Fort Collins, CO
• Tickets: www.DowntownFortCollins.com