Ed Fest moves to new home at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Aug. 20 | VailDaily.com

Ed Fest moves to new home at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Aug. 20

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily
Ed Fest has grown by leaps and bounds the past six years, from its humble origins at the Riverwalk at Edwards to its brand-new home this year at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail.
John-Ryan Lockman | Special to the Daily |

If you go …

What: Ed Fest.

When: Saturday, Aug. 20; 3-6 p.m. beer tasting and 6-10 p.m. live music.

Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail.

Cost: General admission presale tickets are $39 or $49 at the door and include a souvenir tasting cup. VIP presale tickets are $79 and include a souvenir tasting cup, access to the VIP tent with a private bar, private restroom, complimentary light buffet featuring farm-to-table dishes, side stage viewing area, seating and shade and unlimited full beers of rare offerings from more than 15 different breweries. Music only/designated driver tickets will be sold day-of for $25.

More information: Free parking is available in the Vail parking structors and paid parking in the Gerald Ford parking lot. Other transportation options include the ECO Bus, Uber, or a taxi. There will also be a bike rack available. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.edfestbeer.com or at the Crazy Mountain tasting room.

On Saturday, the sixth annual Ed Fest returns to the Vail Valley, bringing more than 40 national, regional and local breweries, local whiskey and spirits companies and music from nationally lauded Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

Like any self-respecting 6-year-old, Ed Fest continues to grow. From its infancy and toddler years at The Riverwalk at Edwards to its “preschooler” stint at Freedom Park, the festival has reached a new stage at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. And while family and friends may bemoan the fact that “it’s just getting so big,” just like parents sending a child to school, the changes are sure to be welcome in the end.

New digs

Due to logistical challenges in Edwards, the organizers of Ed Fest decided to move the event to Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the opportunity, if we had to move from Edwards, that the amphitheater was wiling to let us use that venue,” said Kaleigh Armitage, marketing director for Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. “From the standpoint from a (visiting) brewery, there’s no other festival that it’s in a venue like this.”

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While the move caused a lot of comment, organizers said the change is actually an upgrade. The new venue includes both covered seating and a grassy lawn, giving attendees options for either up-close seating or lounging on the slope. Lawn chairs (no camping chairs) and lawn blankets are permitted, as is bringing in your own food, similar to Hot Summer Nights. No outside beverages are allowed, but guests can bring an empty water bottle to fill up in the venue. There is no re-entry, so ticket holders are encouraged to bring their festival accouterments when they enter the amphitheater.

Brewers and vendors will be located throughout the amphitheater, working from tables instead of tents on the flat surfaces within the amphitheater, as well as under the gazebo at the front gate. For the musical elements of the event, the acoustics of the amphitheater are world-class, providing a superior experience for the performance by Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and the opening musical acts. Plus, in the event of inclement weather, the covered spaces are ideal: There are more than 1,500 covered seats, along with covered areas throughout the facility.

Then there’s the beer. This year’s lineup features some festival classics, as well as more than 10 potentially new-to-you breweries. From beard-focused to tea-infused, here are three to seek out at this year’s Ed Fest.



Location: Denver

Opened: November 2014

Head brewers: Spencer O’Bryan and Brennan Mann

What it’s about: Head brewers and owners O’Bryan and Mann, who have known each other since middle school, started brewing beer because they weren’t satisfied with the beer they were consuming — they wanted something bolder.

At Fermaentra, they focus on traditional ingredients, brewing in as close to traditional styles as possible but pushing them to the limits to make them unique. O’Bryan said they do as much as possible with mixed cultures and yeast, eschewing a house yeast strain and using the flavor profiles of yeast from around the world to get the most out of the beer.

“There’s a saying in brewing: The brewer prepares the wort, but the yeast makes the beer,” O’Bryan said. “We try and make the best platform for the yeast to shine through. The flavor profiles come from the yeast that we select and how we treat it, how we prepare it. … All of this preparation goes in to get the most of out of the beer.”

Fermaentra focuses on Belgian and English styles, with a few others thrown in.

“The thing we always tell people is that we’re trying to balance art and science as much as humanly possible with our beers,” O’Bryan said. “We’re very art forward. We didn’t make it as musicians or stuff like that — we found our voice in the art of beer.”

What they’re bringing: Antumbra, a Belgian pale; Canticle Belgian Dubbel; and Sonder, a dry-hopped session pale ale.

Fun fact: In an act of neologism, O’Bryan and Mann created the name of the brewery. While O’Bryan pronounced it “Fer-MAHN-tra,” he’s not picky about pronunciation.

“We don’t get offended when they (customers) mispronounce the name,” O’Bryan said. “We took liberties with making up a word. You can pronounce it how you want — as long as you like the beer.”

Something Brewery


Location: Brighton

Opened: December 2015

Head brewers: Brian Castillo, Dustin Christopher and David Allegrezza

What it’s about: Located in Brighton, Something Brewery creates tea-infused beer for an intense flavor. The tea is added after the fermentation, allowing the brewers to infuse the beer with the flavor, like Something Berry Good, a blueberry-wheat beer that is made with blueberry tea.

“It’s easier to do,” said Allegrezza, one of the owners at Something Brewery. “Instead of adding 100 pounds of blueberries … we can put 12 ounces of tea into 240 gallons worth of beer and get the best taste ever. You can still taste the beer, but it’s flavored with a different taste altogether.”

Right now, about half of the taps are pouring beer made with tea and the other half are pouring beer without. In some cases, the batches are split. Half receives the tea, like a pineapple mango tea in Mosaic pale ale, and the other half does not. Visiting the brewery, guests can sample both versions and decide which one they like better in a sort of social experiment.

It’s a unique niche, one that Allegrezza said allowed for a lot of creativity in a booming industry.

“We have so many combinations we can do with so many types of teas and so many types of beers,” Allegrezza said. “We can stretch the boundaries.”

What they’re bringing: “Probably our citrus saison, the Citrusaurus,” Allegrezza said. “We all hated saisons when we decided to start brewing it. … It took three weeks to research, but we probably brewed our favorite saison we’ve ever had.”

Also on tap is The Blackberry Wit, a blackberry tea-infused wit beer, and the Pineapple Mango Mosaic Pale Ale.

Fun fact: Something Brewery partners with IN-TEA in Littleton for its tea. With more than 150 different types of tea available, the possibilities for new combinations are almost infinite.

Grossen Bart Brewery


Location: Longmont

Opened: December 2014

Head brewer: Walter Bourque

What it’s about: It’s all about the beards — and beer — at this Longmont brewery.

“Our brewery is a facial hair-themed brewery,” said Taylor Wise, one of the founders of Grossen Bart Brewery. “We name our beer after facial hair styles.”

Grossen Bart means “great beard” in German, and so far, the brewery has produced more than 65 beers on its 10-barrel system without any repeat in style names. From the Fu Manchu Foreign Stout to the Belgian Pornstache Pale Ale, the beer styles are aligned with the beard styles.

“We wanted something more approachable,” said Shad Chancey, co-founder of Grossen Bart Brewery. “We’re not trying to reinvent beer.”

“We try to make craft beer for the people, by the people,” brewer Walter Bourque said. “Something approachable. Beer is everyman’s drink. We don’t want to price people out; we want to make it affordable. We have pints priced at $3 to $12. What flavor do you want to drink? We want to put that in your hand.”

What they’re bringing: “I think we’ll probably bring the Chin Curtain IPA,” Wise said. Other options include the Anker Beard Amber, which won a silver medal at the Denver International Beer Competition, or the Strip-teaser Pale Ale.

Fun fact: Having a beard is not a requisite for visiting the brewery. If you happen to be clean-shaven, the pint glasses are designed to bestow a beard as you drink.

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