Second tier beer festivals in Colorado are growing, thanks to the success of the Great American Beer Festival. But the new element in these gatherings is a growing number of craft distillers in the state.
The recent 9th annual Craft Lager Festival in Manitou Springs the second weekend in August saw more than 4,000 lager enthusiasts in two days enjoy some 30 craft beers. But new this year was the introduction of craft distillers to the mix.
A relatively young bunch—seven years ago there were three craft distillers in the state; today there are 22—the addition was met with some skepticism by the brewers in attendance, said Rob Masters, distiller of Rob’s Mountain Gin, which is created at Boulder Distillery, also home to 303 Vodka and 303 Whiskey.
“They (the brewers) were a bit leary, but when they saw what we were doing, they thought it was great,” Masters said.
Much of the reason is that beer has become the new cocktail mixer. No longer are whiskey and vodka and gin relegated to dancing with cola, lemon-lime soda and tonic. Bartenders are starting to experiment with mixing stouts and whiskey as well as vodka and sour beers.
If you’re curious how this plays out, check out the Fall Harvest Brew Fest at the Drake Centre in Fort Collins Oct. 15. They, too, are welcoming Colorado distillers to serve up cocktails and other unique concoctions. In addition to the 20 regional breweries in attendance there will be a half dozen distilleries, including Boulder’s RoundHouse Spirits, Loveland’s Dancing Pines Distillery and Greeley’s Syntax Spirits, as well as 303 Vodka and Rob’s Mountain Gin.
The sold out Great American Beer Festival was a boon for Denver (and has garnered enough respect from the managers of the Colorado Convention Center that they’ve booked next year’s festival for Oct. 11–13, so plan to get your tickets early). Several local breweries that had gone winless in years past brought home the hardware this year, and visa versa. Here, a list of area winners.
Blue MoonVintage Blond Ale: Bronze
Upslope, Upslope Pumpkin Ale: Gold
Bull and Bush, Turnip the Beets: Bronze
Copper Kettle, Mexican Chocolate Stout: Gold
Dry Dock, Coffee Milk Stout: Bronze
Denver Beer, Graham Cracker Porter: Bronze
Wynkoop, Belgorado: Bronze
Strange, Gluten-Free Lemon Pale: Gold
New Belgium, LeTerroir Sour Ale: Gold
Odell, Friek: Gold
Bull and Bush, Release the Hounds: Silver
Wynkoop, B3K Schwarzbier: Bronze
C.B. and Potts, Pavlov’s Pils: Gold
Oskar Blues, Mama’s Little Yella Pils: Silver
Del Norte, Orale: Bronze
SandLot Brewery, Move Back Oktoberfest: Gold
Coors Archive, PrePro Bock: Silver
Oskar Blues, Deviant Dale’s: Silver
Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Little Red Cap: Gold
Crabtree Brewing, Berliner Weisse: Gold
Dry Dock, Hefeweizen: Gold
Funkwerks, Funkwerks Saison: Silver
Dostal Alley Brewpub, Shaft House Stout: Bronze
Crabtree, Oatmeal Stout: Silver
Oskar Blues, Old Chub: Bronze
Mountain Sun Brewery, Colorado Kind: Silver