I’ve been attending the annual Winter Brew Fest and Summer Brew Fest in Denver for several years. The first couple of years I went (2009 & 2010) were great. The venue, Mile High Station, worked well for the event and had plenty of space for attendees to enjoy their beers; it was fairly crowded but not unbearable. But the number of tickets keeps increasing each year:
- Winter Brew Fest 2010 sold 1200 tickets
- Winter Brew Fest 2011 sold 1500 tickets
- Winter Brew Fest 2012 sold 2000 tickets
- Winter Brew Fest sold…? This information is not available on their site.
This year, in addition to selling out, the folks at Brew Fest decided to employ a “1 in, 1 out” system, due to the fact that they had a “ton of requests from people who did not buy tickets in time.” Now, I don’t know when exactly the tickets went on sale, but when they did, I got an e-mail about it and ignored it. Then–weeks later–I saw a “daily deal” for half-priced tickets…so I figured I might as well do it. It’s not like GABF, where tickets were gone within mere minutes. But Brew Fest obviously wanted to make as much money as possible, not caring that they were basically screwing the rest of us competent people who actually purchased tickets. The “1 in, 1 out” system allows a non-ticket holder to pay and enter once another person is done and leaves. That way, instead of allowing ticket holders a little bit of breathing room toward the end of the night, the festival stays completely packed the entire time. There are certain breweries which are basically impenetrable after the first hour or so due to the enormity of the crowd (if anyone was there, think upstairs near the restrooms). And at one point, my friends and I found ourselves “in line” to simply try to get to the other side of the room. Beyond annoying.
So, which beers were best (and tastiest) at taking the edge off? Here are my picks:
- Cocoa Punk’n Porter (Fate Brewing Co. with Asher Brewing, Boulder)
- Let Your Fate Shine Imperial IPA (Fate Brewing Co. with Shine, Boulder)
- Senorita Horchata Imperial Porter (Elevation Beer Co., Poncha Springs)
- Oil Man Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (Elevation Beer Co.)
- #42 Poblano Stout (Big Choice Brewing, Broomfield)
- Disconnected Red Ale (Big Choice Brewing, Broomfield)
- Born & Raised IPA (No-Li Brewhouse, Spokane, WA)
- And–of course–Mexican Chocolate Stout (Copper Kettle, Denver)
It was also my first time trying Fate, as they are gearing up for their grand opening in Boulder next week. I am highly interested in Fate and plan on paying them a visit in the very near future.
I’m not sure if I’d had anything from Elevation before, but these two beers were amazing. I’ve tried many bourbon barrel aged stouts, and this one was a standout for sure. And the horchata porter?! Brilliant idea.
I had heard of Big Choice, yet I hadn’t had their beer until this festival. I’ve decided it’s definitely worth the short drive to Broomfield to see what else they have to offer.
I was not aware of No-Li, so I was pleased to discover a new (to me) brewery. I found out they just started distributing in Colorado about 3 months ago, so I’ll be looking out for them.
And Copper Kettle’s Mexican Chocolate Stout is one of my all-time favorite beers. Ever. Always a winner.
That is probably the last time I will attend a Denver Brew Fest (Summer or Winter), as it’s getting (gotten) out of hand. But I’m glad I went last weekend, as I discovered some new favorites. Should the festival organizers decide to either move it to a larger venue or keep ticket sales under control enough so as to not feel like sardines in a can…count me in. But I’m not holding my breath.