BrüFrouFEST just celebrated its fourth year, and with it came some big changes. The 2014, 2015 and 2016 events were all held in the spring at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. But this year it was outdoors at the Tivoli Quad, and it was in July instead. And there was more of everything: 130 chefs, brewers & mixologists, 80 culinary pairings, 6 live bands, and a DJ.
Ticketing structure was different as well. General Admission tickets were offered for $40, which included 8 pairings. VIP tickets were $125, with unlimited pairings (including access to all GA pairings plus 20 additional pairing partners), an upgraded polypropylene party plate, and perhaps most importantly for an outdoor event on a hot summer day: access to a shaded VIP tent area with plenty of tables and chairs (the large white tent pictured in the background of the photo above).
As a vegetarian, the VIP ticket wasn’t the best option for me since I can’t partake in most of the pairings. However, provided the set-up remains the same next year, I highly recommend going with VIP for access to all pairings and the large tent, as the amount of shade in the GA area was extremely limited. There were around 10 or so small tents available to the GA crowd, most of which were quickly occupied by groups of people who, if lucky enough to snag one, seemed to cling to them for the majority of the time. Outdoor events are great, but without proper shade, the fest might be better suited for a May or September date rather than July. But did I enjoy myself anyway? Absolutely!
Despite the heat, the beer was cold, the food was delicious, and the pairings were very well done—as always.
Of the eight pairings I had, there is one clear winner in my mind, and that was Rackhouse + C Squared Ciders: 6 Cheese Mac and Cheese Balls on a bed of apple cider slaw with cider dipping sauce, paired with Fuzz peach cider aged in oak barrels. The two blended together amazingly well to create the perfect flavor combination.
There were a couple of others that came in close second: Dar Chocolate + Great Divide Brewing: Cafe Nero chocolate square paired with a Yeti Imperial Stout, and MouCo Cheese Company + Ska Brewing: Truffelo, paired with Modus Hoperandi IPA. Both chocolate and cheese are known to be great foods to pair with beer, and these folks definitely knew what they were doing.
Cafe Nero is 90% Ecuador cacao with Ethiopian coffee beans, which really brought out the essence of the roasted malts in the Yeti.
Truffelo is a creamy, buttery cheese which, in turn, made the very hoppy Modus seem much smoother than when drinking it on its own.
I can honestly say that every pairing I had was pretty incredible, but these three were tops.
All of the chefs, brewers and mixologists did a fantastic job with the pairings, and the event was spacious and fun. The only suggestion I have for next time is to either have more shade (and tables) in the general area or move it to the spring or fall. But it was still a wonderful festival with an unbelievable amount of top-notch food and drinks, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for BrüFrouFEST 2018!