The Epic Beer Festival came to Denver this past weekend. Although this is its first year, the organizers have put on festivals in Denver in the past. They outgrew those and needed something more “epic”.
Epic started in San Diego. Denver is the second city to get it, with Philadelphia and Dallas up next.
I thought it was a great combination of a lot of breweries and a not-too-large crowd. The massive Colorado Convention Center is a great place for a festival. It had enough room that the breweries weren't right on top of each other and there was plenty of space around the outside for you to step out of the crowds for a breather.
The smaller & startup Colorado Breweries made a great showing. Fate, West Flanders, Copper Kettle. It reminded me of the recently opened Colorado Plus Brew Pub which focuses on smaller Colorado Breweries.
There are a ton of new ones coming online in the state. I do my best to visit them all, but it's impossible to keep up. This festival gave me the chance to cross a bunch off the list at once.
International breweries were another cool feature. There were a bunch of Belgian breweries I had never tried before, as well as breweries I'm well familiar with but hadn't tried certain offerings, like Fuller's Bengal Lancer.
You won't find the amount of rarities that you'll find at the Great American Beer Festival. For the most part it was the breweries' flagship beers (beer list is here; pdf). Although even at GABF the rare stuff is usually gone after the first or second session.
One thing I really commend this festival for is that they pay for all the beer that is served, as opposed to GABF where all of the beer is donated. If I'm a brewer, I'm VERY happy about that.
My favorite beers of the festival:
- Trinity Brewing Company TPS Report
- Trinity Brewing Company Three Flowers Saison
- Elevation Beer Company Engel Weisse
- Fate Brewing Company IPA
- Pikes Peak Brewing Company Red Lager
- Fullers Bengal Lancer
Denverites have a seemingly endless appetite for beer festivals. To be honest I think we're a looonng ways away from the day when we say, “Damn, not another beer festival…”
For the out of towners, you may want to consider this as an alternative to the Great American Beer Festival. Given the nightmare that is GABF ticket sales, the recent increase in prices, and the cost of a hotel room around that time (if you can find a room), the Epic Beer Festival is a good alternative. This is especially true if you want to throw in a festival as part of a larger trip to explore the Denver/Colorado beer scene.
Let me know if you went to the festival (this one or San Diego's) and what you thought. Anyone from Philly or Dallas plan on going when it comes to your city?