On Saturday, March 25, hundreds of excited beer lovers attended the 4th Annual Collaboration Fest. Collaboration Fest is one of the most unique beer festivals in the country, as each beer is created specifically for this event. Not only that, but every beer was brewed collaboratively between two or more breweries, with some having as many as six different breweries contributing to a single beer.
Collaboration Fest started in 2014 at the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver. After the inaugural event, word got around and it grew considerably over the next couple of years, moving into a larger space—Mile High Stadium—in both 2015 and 2016. This year it was held at the National Western Complex for the first time. And there is a reason it continues to gain popularity, as the beers seem to get better and better each year. 2017 featured over 100 special beer projects from nearly 200 breweries!
As I looked over the pour list before the event, one thing that really struck me was the sheer ingenuity when it comes to ingredients. Here are just some of the interesting items used in this year’s collaborations: birch bark, gooseberries, pretzels, boysenberries, mushrooms, kelp, seaweed, elderflower, spruce, rose, gold, and even onion! (though unfortunately, the onion beer didn’t make it to the festival for reasons beyond the breweries’ control). Aside from ingredients and recipes, the utter creativity of ideas that went into these beers is impressive. Many had clever names (Intergalactichoptopia, Knackered Knickers, Wanna Be Stoutin’ Somethin’ and Japance Off, to name a few), and two beers were actually blessed by a father from a local church.
Last year, I wrote that 2016 Collaboration Fest had been the best one yet. Well, guess what? 2017 topped it! There were so many great beers this time around that I had a tough time narrowing down my list of favorites. I was ultimately able to come up with a list of seven beers I personally found to be outstanding.
My favorites from 2017:
Caribbean Rum Cake Beer (CO-Brew and Southern Brewing and Winemaking)
Bianca Raspberry Wild Wild Brett (Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project and Omnipollo)
Paperback Writer Barrel Fermented Brett Stock Ale (Fiction Beer Company and Ursula Brewing Company)
German Chocolate Cake Stout (Living the Dream Brewing Company and Alter Brewing)
Rum Barrel-Aged English IPA (Mockery Brewing, Baere Brewing, Root Shoot Malts and Inland Island Yeast Co.)
Des Cousines Barrel Aged French Wild Ale (Beryl’s Beer Company and Goose Island)
Slow Death Whiskey Barrel Aged Dark Mixed Fermentation Culture Ale with cinnamon & lemon peel (TRVE Brewing and Burial Beer Co.)
For those who missed out, or for those craving one or more of the beers at the fest, head to First Draft Taproom & Kitchen (1309 26th St, Denver) THIS Wednesday, March 29 at 5 pm for Collab Fest Tap Takeover, where you’ll find over 25 of the festival’s collaborations on tap.
Thanks to all the breweries who participated and shared their awesome collaborations with us! See you in 2018!