After I moved to Frederick, Colorado I started to become disillusioned with beer. I just couldn’t find the same passion and joy in the art of fermentation as I once had.. Logging onto Facebook, which I have to do for work, would just make me agitated seeing all the awesome beer tappings and events my friends attended but I was too far to join. It even got to the point where I would go a couple weeks without sipping a sud, despite the overflow of beer from our fridge and working at a brewery. Was I subconsciously hoarding my small cellar of beer in case of another flood and I wouldn’t be able to get out of town to get more? Was I losing my taste for it? Could I actually- in a land of 10,000 beers- be BORED? What is going on!?!?
And then I saw it. A poster for the Colorado Craft Beer Round Up. A small festival put on by the Carbon Valley Chamber of Commerce, and walking distance from my house. A beer event that I didn’t have to drive 40 minutes to Denver, Boulder or Fort Collins to attend. Now, I don’t want you to think that I am totally deprived of beer out on the plains. I have found a hang out at Echo Brewing Company and thank whatever god you pray too that Georgia Boys Smoke House has 20 taps of beer other than bud light, but 2 places won’t give you that awesome of a bike tour.
The night before the festival I perused the list of breweries serving. A few new breweries who I haven’t had a chance to make it to would be pouring, but the rest of the bunch were the usual suspects; City Star Brewing, Pateros Creek, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse and others. Live music was supposed to play all day, and knowing the lay out of the park I was excited for some dancing barefoot in a skirt possibilities.
Despite the advertisements that promised a taster glass with your ticket purchase, everyone was handed a clear plastic cup at arrival. As a collector I was disappointed they didn’t at least spring for a $.75 per person tiny plastic beer mug. However, I was surprised to see so many unusual beers to fill my cup with. So often small festivals just showcase a breweries standard beers, but I was able to sip on barrel aged, fruit & floral infused, double hopped and more. Walking up to the Grimm Brothers tent, owner Aaron Heaton pulled a growler out of the cooler and poured me a serving of their new Gose. It was amazing. It is hard for me to find a Gose that doesn’t illicit salted vegetables on my palette, but this one had a malt sweetness to balance the perfect salty bite.
There was even a Grist style ale! This is a style I search out with little results. It is such a historic style, yet it is incredibly diverse in its execution. Very Nice Brewing out of Netherland brought theirs out and I am glad they did. The cloudy golden amber ale had a such complex taste, from sweet malt and spicy rye to an earthy finish. Lauren and Heather from Disposabowls kept going back for more. The “beer” I kept going back for more was the Pumpkin Cider from Wild Cider. A local cidery here in Frederick, I was all about their spicy sweet concoction available in a 16 oz. can.
Drinking beer was about it as terms as things to do at the festival. While they didn’t follow through on their advertising for the festival glass, they did follow through on it being family friendly. A family friendly beer festival is good in theory, but having half the festival grounds dedicated to the entertainment of the maybe 20 children in attendance was a bit over kill. The paying grown-ups would like entertainment, too. And the lone guitarist who nearly ruined my favorite Tom Petty song with the worst cover I have ever heard didn’t count.
Towards the end of the festival Echo Brewing Company was presented with an award for “VIP Choice Beer”. There was no earlier mention of a voting or judging, or even a formal ceremony to present the award. Even the brewery reps who won the award didn’t know how the contest was won or why they won. “Some dude just gave us this”, was how they described their hard earned win.
The festival offered most of what it promised, lots of family friendly activities with an unlimited amount of beer. Without the Brewers Association and the help from brewers (an owner of Echo Brewing paid $100 out of his own pocket to fill in a contract disagreement between the musician and the chamber), I don’t think the chamber could have pulled this off.
Despite the numerous signs at the festival declaring “for children 12 and under only” restricting me from most of the area, attending this festival helped renew my passion for beer. It helped me discover why I was becoming so disillusioned with beer. It reminded me that the thing I love most about beer is the social aspect and camaraderie. Drinking an amazing, barrel aged, bottle conditioned, rare hopped whale isn’t as fun by yourself as it is with others who also appreciate the craft. It was great to catch up with Aaron from Grimm Brothers and Paul from Pateros Creek and meet so many new people.I learned that there is indeed life outside the brewery mecca that is Fort Collins.