Good Day and Good Beer! The season of beer festivals is back and the opening bell was rung by none other than Collaboration Fest brought to you by the Colorado Brewers Guild.
With 100+ beers and 120+ breweries represented, (and 15 of those being out of state collaborators!) this year’s Collab Fest was an incredible return to the festival season after a two-year hiatus.
Colorado Brewery List even got in on the collab action this year with our friends at Burns Family Artisanal Ales. “Media Frenzy,” a West Coast Style Triple IPA, was a collaboration with the Colorado Beer Media, including: Living A Stout Life, Steve Staeger of Next with Kyle Clark, Focus on the Beer, PorchDrinking.com, Colorado Beer Guy, Boulder Weekly, Colorado Beer Geek, and saisonsandsours.
For the last couple of years, Collab Fest has been held in hotel ballrooms, but between increasing attendance and brewery participation, the event has grown well past capacity at any of the previous venues. This year, the fest was held at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, expanding the space for the event to grow and thrive. This also meant more bathrooms and shorter lines. Only at the height of the event were there any real traffic jams. The tiered levels of the venue provided a few different areas to congregate away from the buzz of the main floor. One such space was the On Tap Credit Lounge located on the stage with seating, cold bottles of water, and a prize wheel waiting to be spun. It was fun to overlook the crowd of fellow beer fans and think about all the famous performers who have had the same vantage point. In years past, Collab Fest has stood out with full sized glassware as the chosen vessel but this year, a much more manageable 4 oz. taster glass was distributed.
Without further ado, let’s talk about the beer that went into our glasses. We at Colorado Brewery List got together and talked about our favorites.
- Sleeping Giant Brewing Company and Maui Brewing Company Coffee Stout made with Origin Coffee Roasters Maui Bourbon Barrel Coffee Beans. “The beans alone would have been a really good cup of coffee, but making a beer with them was just *chef’s kiss*. It was a great beer to start the fest with.” -Alex Consolver
- “Citra® Single Hop” and “Not a Single Citra® Hop” from Hideaway Park Brewing and Elevation Beer Company. “The idea of taking the same recipe and using only hop pellets in one version and only hop-derivatives (eg oils, resin, etc) is such a cool way to show how the same hop flavors can present very differently.” -Miss Lupulin, Dev Adams
- “Extra Vehicular Activity” the Rye Dunkel from Bierstadt Lagerhaus and Goldspot Brewing Company. “The rye added a cool complexity and earthiness to the dunkel style without making it overly sweet.” -Dev Adams
- Jagged Mountain and Jade Mountain’s Ramen Beer and sister collab from Jade Mountain and Black Project, “Divine Arrow” the Blended Red Koji Rice Sour Ale. “The ramen beer was savory and a touch spicy and even included a piece of seaweed. The accompanying Red Koji Rice Ale added sweet and sour for the perfect pairing.” -Alex Consolver
- “Last Splash” New Zealand Style Pale Ale from Ratio Beerworks and Cannonball Creek Brewing Company. “Proof that tons of fruit can be achieved without actual fruit or haze!” -Dev Adams
- “1020 WC IPA” from Cannonball Creek Brewing Company and Riip Beer Company out of California. “A solid, clean, super drinkable West Coast IPA.” -The Beerd Wrangler, Josh Norton
- The super drinkable unnamed Double IPA from Bootstrap Brewing Company and Left Hand Brewing Company. “It’s easy to have a double IPA be too sweet – but these breweries managed to produce something with a lot of alcohol and none of the sickly sweetness. Oh – and lots of hops!” -Josh Norton
- “Forbidden Launch” BBA Stout Wine from Launch Pad Brewery and Verboten Brewing. “Deep, boozy, and flavorful. Perfect combination from these two accomplished breweries.” -Alex Consolver
- “Asthma Cat” Smoked Dark Wheatwine from Resolute Brewing Company, Peak View Brewing Company, and Los Dos Potrillos Cerveceria. “Big bold smoky beer that fit the bill perfectly.” -Dave Sorensen “Ditto.” -Stephen Adams
- “Unconfirmed Details” Barrel Aged Imperial Stout from Cerebral Brewing and Lady Justice Brewing. “Soon to be neighbors, these two breweries made magic together with this tasty big stout. I look forward to making a “twofer” visit to both spots when Cerebral opens their future taproom across the street in Aurora. ” -Stephen Adams
- “Forest Captain’s Legendary Journey” Belgian Quint from Odyssey Beerwerks and Woods Boss Brewing. “I first met Jordan Fink (owner at Woods Boss) when he was brewing for Odyssey and brought a Quad called “Form & Function” to Rare Beer Fest and told me about a new brewery he was working on. He and his old pals brought this beer to another level with a BIG 17% version!” -Stephen Adams
- “Biere au Méthode de Coupage” from Wild Provisions Beer Project and Primitive Beer. “Served on hand pull for the true Primitive Beer Experience.” -Dave Sorenson
- “Lemons For Daze” a Sour Wheat Ale with Lemon from Spangalang Brewery, Jagged Mountain, Woods Boss and MobCraft Denver. “This beer was made in honor of the former Liberati Restaurant and Brewery, and really made me long for their limoncello.” -Ashley Steadman
- “Burnt Ends and Greens” from Knotted Root Brewing Company and BKS Artisan Ales from Kansas City, MO. “Knotted Root is well known for their hazy beers, and BKS was a pleasant discovery on a recent trip to Kansas City, and they have a similar focus on hazy beers. This beer was very hazy and juicy, just as you would expect from these two.” -Ryan Steadman
- “There is Only Zuul” Barrel-Aged Barleywine from Bruz Beer and River North Brewery.
- “Caribbean Calculation” A Caribbean Style Stout from River North Brewery and Burns Family Artisan Ales.
- “Orange is the New Stout” A Carrot Cake Blonde Stout from 6 and 40 Brewery and Coal Mine Ave Brewing Company. “Carrot Cake and beer is one of my favorite flavor combinations, maybe it’s because the dessert pairs really well with the natural flavors of the malt and hops, maybe I just like carrot cake that much.” -Alex Consolver
- “Uncommon Link Part 4” Jalapeno Cornbread Cream Ale from Chain Reaction Brewing, Coal Mine Ave Brewing Company, and Peak View Brewing Company. “This beer absolutely blew me away. It absolutely tasted like the best jalapeno cornbread in beer form with a bright corn flavor and just enough jalapeno to wake up your pallet. It was one of the more subtle beers on the floor, which allowed the brewers’ craftsmanship shine through.” -Dev Adams
Of course, I would be remiss to forget the one thing that stood out above all else at Collab Fest this year. The reentry of the social beer drinking experience. Hugs and handshakes, selfies with heads smushed together, and the clinking of taster glasses. Everyone in the same room again to celebrate the one thing we all love: beer. Collaboration Fest has always been one of the best festivals Colorado has to offer, but I think “Collaboration” meant a little more to all of us this year.