Boulder Strong Ale Fest 2016

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The 14th Annual Boulder Strong Ale Fest was held at Avery Brewing last Saturday, March 5th. And I was extremely excited to attend for the first time ever.

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I’ve been to numerous beer festivals over the years, and there are several factors that play into how enjoyable–or not–each event is. For me personally, the main components include the beers being poured and the space and layout.

Lower bar
Lower bar

The beer part is pretty straightforward: is the beer list appealing? The answer is usually yes.

The space and layout is where it gets trickier. Is the venue large enough to accommodate festival goers without being far too crowded? Do the beer lines get so long they start interfering with other lines, such as the entrance or the restrooms? Are there sufficient spots to sit or to set down your beer? Are there enough restrooms (which is very important when drinking beer for hours)?

Upper bar
Upper bar

As far as I’m concerned, the Boulder Strong Ale Fest scored a 100% in all areas. Avery Brewing was the perfect venue for the fest, pouring beers in 4 different locations:  the Upper bar, Brewhouse Mezzannine, Lower Bar, and lots of tents outside. There was no waiting half an hour for a beer. There was plenty of room to comfortably move about. There were ample restrooms, both inside and out (I never even had to wait in line at all, which is rare!). And I appreciated that there were several different places to sit or simply to set beers down while eating or browsing the pour list. This was one of the most well organized and run beer fests I’ve ever attended. And that beer…

Mezzanine Bar
Mezzanine bar

While I certainly didn’t try every beer on the list (considering they were all at least 8% ABV, I’m not sure anyone would have been able to tackle all 103 of them), there were several that really wowed me.

Enjoying the fest
Enjoying the fest!

A few of my overall favorites were:

Crooked Stave: Salvador Cybies (Dark Belgian Strong Ale aged in Leopold Brothers whiskey barrels with sour cherries added)

Avery: Lastarya (Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout infused with coffee, chocolate, and vanilla)

Weldwerks: Mexican Achromatic (Imperial Stout inspired by Mexican hot cocoa; brewed with roasted cacao nibs, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla beans)

Cerebral Brewing: Work From Home (Imperial Breakfast Porter with maple syrup and coffee added)

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Everything about the Boulder Strong Ale Fest was fantastic. I was very impressed with the entire experience, and I’m looking forward to Strong Ale Fest 2017!

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