When we were setting up our trip to shoot our episode at Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado, the Avery folks mentioned that they would be staging their annual Strong Ale Festival at the same time we wanted to visit. Hey, sometimes you just get lucky.
This is a highly anticipated event that draws a huge crowd every year. Avery has a long tradition of brewing strong beers - many over 8% ABV, ranging as high as 18%. Plenty of those would be on tap at the festival, but so would beers from dozens of other breweries from as far away as Massachusetts and the Pacific coast. Avery’s guidelines for inclusion were simple: “To make it into this fest, a beer must be 8% ABV or higher and represent something very special from the heart and soul of its creator.”
As I’ve written in the past, craft brewing is unique in that most brewers from different breweries consider themselves colleagues rather than competitors. And the idea of inviting dozens of other brewers to your place to show off what they can do is considered a good thing for craft brewing in general – and a ton of fun for all of the brewers involved.
The event, as it is every year, was jammed. People waited in line for an hour or more for the opportunity to sample beers that, beyond being high in alcohol, were unique, unusual, or hard to get. National distribution in the craft beer world is the exception, not the rule, and many of those attending told us they were here specifically to try beers they otherwise couldn’t get in Colorado. This was my second beer festival - I’ve been to two others since then - and I can’t wait for the next one. Each has been a fabulous experience – I learned a lot, I tasted a lot, and I got to hang out with a lot of friendly people who share a love for craft beer and craft brewing. I strongly suggest you find a festival near you and give it a try.
There are, of course, the mega events such as the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. But there is also a wide range of festivals, from regional to local, all over the country, such as the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland, the Great Arizona Beer Festival, the Great taste of the Midwest in Madison, WI, the American Craft Beer Fest in Boston, and the Brewgrass Festival in Asheville, NC.
Here are a couple of useful links to find festivals (and other craft beer events) where you live:
So find yourself a festival and give it a try. Maybe we’ll see you there. Cheers.
To learn more about Avery Brewing Company, check out the full episode here!
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.