Cheers to beers at Vail beer festival |

Cheers to beers at Vail beer festival

Kim FullerSpecial to the DailyVail, CO, Colorado
NWS beer fest 1 KA 1-7-12

VAIL – A lot of glasses were raised this weekend at Vail’s Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival, and every toast was followed in full flavor. “This festival is lot different than a lot of other beer festivals,” said Steve Trese, head brewer of Boulder Beer. “Here you will find very strong and flavorful brews. They are generally beers that you won’t drink as much of, but some that you will really appreciate.”Colorado’s craft beer movement was once based on more amber and malty brews, according to Doug Odell, brewmaster and founder of Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, but he said this state has strengthened its palate for a stronger pint. “As we started to get more hoppy, we still kept a balance with some sweetness and a malty base,” Odell said. “That balance on these beers gives you a strong start with a smooth finish.” In its 12th year, the festival has continued to attract beer connoisseurs and home-brewers from all over the country. Blake Schwalls and Chrissy Nuckolls live in Dallas, but the lack of snow turned their ski vacation in Breckenridge into a visit to Vail for the festival. “The craft beer movement is really growing in Texas,” Schwalls said. “I’ve been trying to take small steps in learning about home-brewing.” But it’s the Colorado natives who were really drawn in by the big beers. Katie Blackstone and Shellie Mccallister of Denver have come up to the festival from Denver for the past four years, and they say it’s a little more intimate than the larger festivals in the Front Range. “It’s a bit more mellow than the Great American Beer Festival,” Mccallister said. “This is a good beer fest to come to with family and friends if you want to taste all the beers in a relaxed atmosphere.”Derrick Flint is from Buena Vista, and said the festival seminars and the beer tastings are helpful in providing inspiration for making his own beer.”To taste good beers and talk about them is a great way to stir up creative juices for my own home-brewing,” Flint said. No one knows more about home-brewing than the craft brewmasters themselves, and many of them were at the festival, pouring their creations for the eager crowd to try. “This is a really great beer fest because, for the most part, the people who are pouring the beer are the people who made the beer,” said Zach Turner, quality manager at Odell Brewing Co. “You get a really nice opportunity to talk to the people who put the work into creating the beer.” Bryan Baltzell, “beer baron” of Great Divide Brewing Co. in Denver, said this festival brings some of the biggest names in American craft brewing, so who better to ask about the next best batch?”You get to see a lot of brewery owners who don’t normally travel for beer festivals,” Baltzell said. “A lot of them are here in this room, and if you have a question for them you can go visit with them.”Baltzell said that through a dozen years, the event has grown, yet stayed smart, accessible, exciting and well-executed. “You can ski up to this resort, take your skis off, come in and have access to some of the most amazing beers in the country and in the world,” Baltzell said. “People come away with a bunch of knowledge about beers they fall in love with.”

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