Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival 2014

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Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending my first Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival at Vail Cascade Resort. I had heard about this festival for a few years and was extremely excited to finally go.

I liked this display from Bonfire Brewing

My drive to (and especially from) Vail was treacherous. There were several points that were so scary I honestly thought I might not make it home alive.  But I did, and fortunately it was all worth it. Because I think I had more good beers here than at Great American Beer Festival. Maybe it’s because I’m a “big beer” kind of girl. In any case, I was very impressed with so many of the beers I tasted that day. If you’ve ever been to a festival serving high ABV beers at 8,000 feet, you’re probably aware it becomes nearly impossible to remember all of the details of each beer. But the one that stood out most to me was Waelz Blood from Crooked Stave. This might be the best sour I’ve ever had. Crooked Stave had several excellent, rare beers that day. I also enjoyed Lolita from Goose Island, Bird of Prey from Sanitas Brewing, Tropical Paradise Imperial IPA from Wild Woods Brewery, and Hopslam from Bell’s.

Apparently I decided to take a photo of this very full dump bucket. Hmmm...
Apparently I decided to take a photo of this very full dump bucket. Hmmm…

There were several more that I wish I could write about, but attempting to decipher my notes has proven to be quite a challenge. One of the most unique beers I tried was Chimayo from Three Barrel. It tasted like I was drinking straight balsamic vinegar. Not really my style, but interesting nonetheless. It definitely left its mark, and I won’t forget it!

Enjoying a big beer
Enjoying a big beer

My only less than wonderful experience was the restroom situation. I was a bit dismayed to find that the only option was outdoors. There were separate men’s & women’s “upscale” porta-potties, each with a few stalls that were housed in a sort of trailer, so it could have been worse. But there was no soap, so I had to stand outside in freezing weather and pump ice-cold water to wash my hands–brrr! Perhaps this is something that can be worked out for next year’s festival.

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I am so thrilled to have attended the festival. I definitely recommend it. You get to try some unique and amazing beers, it’s in a beautiful place, and it is such a great time.

Well done, 2014 Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines!

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