A favorite destination for Texans to escape the summer heat is Colorado. A favorite summertime beverage is beer. So what could make a visit better than an opportunity to sample the very best brews Colorado has to offer all in one place?
That’s exactly what the Colorado Brewers Festival offers. This summer marked the 26th edition of the popular event, making it one of the oldest such festivals in the country.
Nestled in a tree-shaded park a few blocks from Fort Collins’ delightful Old Town, the festival had a wonderful laid back feeling. The crowds were big but not unmanageable and the organized beer lines moved quickly giving all an opportunity to sample the dozens of different offerings.
More than 40 Colorado breweries were on site, literally the A to Z of the Colorado beer world. From Fort Collins’ own New Belgium, one of the oldest and first microbreweries to make a national mark, to the dozens of smaller operations that have sprung up in recent years, the festival celebrated the industry and the seemingly endless variety of brews now available.
There were a variety of food options to soak up all the suds, from traditional festival fare like huge turkey legs to all manner of food trucks.
A truck emblazoned with a “Keep Tacos Weird” slogan caught our eye, and sure enough the truck had an Austin connection. Transplanted Texan John De Los Santos stayed busy all day feeding tacos to the crowd. “I was in Austin for 34 years,” said De Los Santos. “The food truck scene here isn’t quite so saturated and we’ve been very well received here.”
We met all sorts of people, from all walks of life, happily quaffing their beverages. And everyone, even the hard-working volunteers, seemed to be smiling!
And though there was plenty of beer flowing, the festival had a decidedly family feel to it.
The family vibe is a welcome development. We talked to a couple of Fort Collins police officers who told us that hasn’t always been the case. A concerted effort by the community and festival organizers has changed the once rowdy event to a more sedate, but ever more enjoyable experience. As a first time festival goer, I was impressed with the laid back feeling and sharing a good time with people who simply wanted to enjoy a good brew.
There seemed to be plenty of Texans here, including Pete and Paulina Sterrett from Fort Worth, who have been to beer festivals in various parts of the country. “We love our beer,” said Pete.
“We’ve never seen anything like this and we’re having a blast,” said Paulina. Besides the beer festival, the pair took several brewery tours and soaked up the beer culture of Fort Collins.
That beer culture is evident everywhere, notably in the extensive beer offerings at just about every bar and restaurant in town. We were pleasantly surprised at the extensive beer décor at the AirBnB where we stayed, a very appropriate setting for this particular trip. Our hosts were great and VERY knowledgeable about the Colorado beer scene.
The dates for the 2016 Colorado Brewers Festival have not been announced yet by festival organizers, but we’ll be marking our calendars when it is!
By Lydia Saldaña