Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rocky Mountain Brew Fest 2008

Rocky Mountain Brewfest 2008
The 2008 Rocky Mountain Brew Fest was held at the Estes Park Brewery in Estes Park, Colorado on June 14, 2008. Just look at this beautiful location! It was a perfect day for a beer fest. Sunny, blue skies and not too hot.

16 breweries were expected to participate but 15 were actually in attendance. The $30 entry fee got you in with a small sampling glass for unlimited samplings, a brat coupon and a raffle ticket. There was lots of other food and treats available.

The official brewfest t-shirt (white) cost $10 (optional). here were 2 live bands playing on at the stage to the north side of the lot. They rotated bands every hour it seemed. It was sunny around 80 degrees and no wind.

Tasting Highlights from the Brewfest

Pitchers Brewery - Greeley. Newcomer to the fest. Small sports bar, not well known but lately their 808 Wheat Beer has been getting a lot of attention. Their 808 Wheat was a cloudy yellow brew that was moderately carbonated and had a sweet citrusy aroma. Excellent - 4 stars!. They also brought their Scottish Ale and Sunset Amber.

New Belgium - a big Colorado brewery with a strong reputation. Their featured beers were their 1554 Black Ale and Skinny Dip, a summer seasonal. Skinny Dip is a clear, golden brew with a white head. Contains Cascade hops and Kaffir Lime Leaf. Very good - 3 stars.

Boulder Beer Company brought along Hazed and Infused (American pale ale) and their Sweaty Betty (wheat). The Hazed was cloudy, golden and very hoppy. Not an IPA according to them but darn close. It's been dry hopped for extra bitterness. Dry finish. OK but prefer this in small quantities. 2.5 stars. The Sweaty Betty is a cloudy wheat with a big white head. Had some off flavors and slightly skunked. Not sweet. 1 star.

Dillon DAM Brewery featured their Dam Straight Lager, Sweet George's Brown Ale, Extra pale Ale and McLuhr's Irish Stout. I tried their flagship Dam Straight Lager. a darker gold. Malty, slightly sweet, not bitter. Tasty - 3 stars.

Bull & Bush. Denver brewer actually had a tapping schedule posted. Each hour they would bring out another beer. I tried the Man Beer. Copper, small white head. Very hoppy and dry. Decent. 2.5 stars. Also saw Justice IPA.

A beer related t-shirt and hat vendor also co-sponsored the event - Had a booth of goods. Featured on the sampling glass.

Twisted Pine Brewery - a growing brewery hidden in the industrial section of Boulder. They brought two brews - Hoppy Boy IPA and Billy's Chilies. I opted for the Billy's Chilies. They told me this version from the keg was ramped up and more intense than the bottled version. I could smell the hot chilies they put in this beer right up front. The taste was VERY INTENSE CHILIES! OMG. This beer actually made your mouth burn like a spicy taco. I needed to drink another beer to cool off my mouth. Intense but worth trying in small quantities. 3 stars.

Oskar Blues Brewery - the Lyons brewery brought all of their beer in cans. They featured Old Chub Scottish Ale and their flagship Dales Pale Ale. The Old Chub is a darker brown brew. You can smell the smoked malts. It was sweet and well blended. Excellent 4 stars. BREAKING NEWS - Oskar Blues will have a couple new brews coming soon - Momma's Little Yellow Pils will debut on June 27th. Also a new Hefeweizen is in the makings as well. Both will initially be available only at the brewpub and in kegs and growlers. They are considering canning these beers at some point. They also talked a bit about their new facility coming to Longmont. OB hopes to be able to ramp up to 100,000 barrels per year within 5 years. They are constantly expanding their distribution as well.

Odell Brewing Company from Fort Collins - noticed I was wearing their Small Batch Fest T-shirt right away. They featured their award winning Odell IPA and their Easy Street Wheat. Wheat was the most popular style. IPA is top quality. 4 stars.

Avery Brewing Company - This Boulder brewery featured the Maharaja IPA and their Karma (summer ale). I went for the IPA as I am now a fan of the style. Copper colored, nice head. Hoppy. 11% ABV. Nice brew with a big taste. Go easy on this one. 3.5 stars.

Flying Dog Brewery (formerly of Denver) - no longer brewing in Colorado but still has corporate offices here. They brought their Gonzo Imperial Porter and the Classic Doggy Style Pale Ale. I've grown to appreciate their brews. Over the top kinda beer. Chose the Gonzo. Strong and hoppy. Dark. 3.5 stars.

Tommyknocker Brewery - from Idaho Springs. They brought Jack Whacker Wheat and Imperial Nut Brown Ale. I just reviewed the Jack Whacker last week so I went for the Imperial Nut Brown. Just like the regular Maple Nut Brown but with a bit more kick. 9% ABV. Very sweet. Perle and Willamette hops. 3.5 stars. They have some oak aged beers coming soon at their tap room.

Left Hand Brewing - Longmont brewer brought their Sawtooth Ale and their Chainsaw Ale. I chose the Chainsaw. A doubled version of their Sawtooth. Higher in malt, hops and alcohol Tasty. 3 stars. Told me they have several new brews coming out by this Fall including an IPA, a Double IPA and others. Later in the day another keg was tapped, this time it was Left Hand Milk Stout. A mighty good dark brew.

Breckenridge Brewery - featured their Agave Wheat and the 471 IPA. I went for the wheat again. Usual cloudiness. Decent. 2.5 stars.

Fort Collins Brewery (FCB) - brought along 3 brews - Tom's Pomegranate Wheat (one of their best), Retro Red and a Rocky Mountain IPA. Love the wheat with pomegranates. Underrated. 3 stars. Summer Fling coming out later this month - a tasty blonde / kolsch mix.

Estes Park Brewery - the host had the most beer offerings of anyone there. They were showcasing 4 of their beers - Estes Pale Ale, Samson Stout, Stinger Honey Wheat and Bear Lake Blueberry Wheat. I opted for the Stout. Very dark brew. Not strong at all. Toned down. Dark malts ok. Average brew - 2 stars.

Overall Impression

The 2008 Rocky Mountain Brew Fest probably topped over 500 guests. Everyone was well behaved. The area was a little crowded however. If it gets any more popular they will need more room. Later on, I went inside and viewed part of the brewhouse. It was full of shiny stainless steel fermenters. I really enjoyed a great day at this fest. There were enough tents to give plenty of shade if you wanted it. I'll definitely go to this festival again sometime.

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