Of Coffee and Firkins

Some Saturdays are better than others, depending on chores, cleaning, shopping, the chance of any international rugby going down, and the presence of some intelligently crafted brew.  But this past Saturday (02/18/2012) was one of such epicness that you have to take a step back and relish that these only happen once in a great while.  And though this will very much wind up being a boastful “and then I…” kind of post, the events I attended and the locations that hosted them deserve postings of their own.  But since I had 2 beer fests in one day…

Track 1: Wake up and drink some coffee.  Pretty standard intro track.

Track 2: Get to Denver Beer Co at 9am (yes, 9am) for their 2nd in-house event/party since their opening 6 months ago, The Coffee Beer Fest.  Attendees got a great deal for their $25 ticket, including a breakfast burrito and all the bacon you could eat (courtesy of food cart Chile Billy), some freshly cone-dripped coffee from Coda Coffee, and a selection of FIVE specially prepared coffee beers made for this event, including my favorites:
–Stormy Winter Stout:  stout aged for 5 months in a French red wine oak barrel with some coffee beans in the barrel.
–Swineheitsgebot: smoked lager aged on coffee beans and actual bacon.
–Cascara IPA: Cascara is the dried fruit shell after the coffee bean has been removed. DBC bartender and homebrewer Anthony Baez brewed 5 gallons of this floral and earthy IPA and aged it on cascara fruit giving it a dried cherry and tobacco flavor.

so, much, bacon...

Track 3: Protein up, enjoy some quiet breakfast time on the beergarden.  The burritos were outstanding with Chili Billy’s “Santa Fe Green Chili”, as was the bacon, obviously.  Everyone raved about the burritos, even while standing in a 10 minute line for fresh sizzling bacon.  In all, over 50 lbs of bacon was prepared for what I estimate was about 50 attendees.  The crowd favorite was the Cascara IPA, as that keg was kicked within the opening hour.  But throughout the event you could hear the phrases: “I’ll try the bacon beer”…”have you had the bacon beer?”…”What’s the bacon beer like?”.  Obviously the Swineheitsgebot was a big hit, and tasted even better when garnished with bacon.  Co-owner Patrick Crawford is pretty sure this will all happen again, since “well, nobody has complained!”

Track 4: Drive ~75 minutes south to Colorado Springs, listen to some Kenny Wayne Shepherd, reflect on how much I love bacon, and try to hold my pee.

Track 5: Pull into Bristol Brewing Company at 1pm, right on time for the start of The 8th Annual Firkin Rendezvous, a celebration of cask ales benefitting the Colorado Brewers Guild.   And boy, brewers were there in full force.  I may be wrong, but of the 24 brewery firkins on tap, I don’t think there was one unrepresented.  From faraway visitors Pagosa Brewing bringing an ESB, to hosts Bristol tapping a barleywine, from big boys Great Divide and Oskar blues to brewers so small they technically haven’t opened yet (Hogshead Brewing), all manner of Colorado brewers were on hand to Firkin it up.

Track 6: Sample the wares.  Chit-chatting with visiting brewers and representatives is fun, but at a Firkin Fest you need to utilize your sample cup, for firkins do run out, especially when there are 200 people expected to attend.  Oddly enough, even though this is crazy Colorado, there seemed to be a ton of respect for the English styles (this is an event named for an olde English measurement unit, of course).  Bitters and ESBs were a little too represented, accompanied by a fair force of stouts, IPAs, an Old Ale, and a barleywine.  But there’s nothing quite so quintessential to the Colorado brewers’ spirit of brotherhood as seeing one brewery representative pouring 6 other breweries’ beer for thirsty fest-ers.

Track 6: Grand exit.  A sold out beer fest in the back of a microbrewery can get pretty crowded pretty fast.  All efforts were made on my part to duck, weave, sample, sniff, and quaff my way to victory.  But there comes a time (sample #15 for me) when your bladder and liver tell you it’s time to make the journey home.  A few high fives and handshakes from brewers later, I just couldn’t resist one last quaff of Bristol’s Mass Transit Amber from the taproom before I leave.  A Kevin Smith podcast accompanies my trek back to Denver.

One Comment to “Of Coffee and Firkins”

  1. [...] the olde German Beer Purity Law.  The greatest example of the latter came back in February during The Coffee Beer Fest, an in-house event hosted by DBC celebrating coffee, beer, and the lovely marriage of the two (and [...]

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