Ed Fest returns to Edwards with new breweries | VailDaily.com

Ed Fest returns to Edwards with new breweries

Katie Coakley
Daily correspondent

EDWARDS — In what has become one the signature events for Edwards, Ed Fest returns for its fifth year of music, community and, of course, craft beer.

"This year is going to be bigger and better than ever," said Kaleigh Armitage, marketing coordinator for Crazy Mountain Brewery. "We have 65 breweries and distilleries attending."

Crazy Mountain Brewing created and produced the first Ed Fest in 2010 as a festival for brewers, put on by brewers, Armitage said. The event has expanded each year, adding craft distilleries to the sampling menu and outgrowing its first location at the Edwards Riverwalk Center. 2014 was the first year that the event was held at Freedom Park, a change of venue that has been embraced by attendees.

"I'm glad that it's in Miller Ranch now, at the soccer fields," said Tony Roberts, an Edwards resident who has attended Ed Fest every year since its inception. "There, it's in the grass and there's more of an option to hang out. The breweries aren't spread out in odd places."

Greg Harvey, a fellow Edwards resident and beer connoisseur, chimed in, "All the breweries are in a fixed location, which means that you're less likely to miss anything this way."

Ed Fest is perhaps the largest event that takes place in Edwards each year, attracting guests not only from the valley, but from around the state and beyond, including at least one "famous" face.

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"I saw Jerry Springer there last year," Roberts said.

For Edwards residents like Roberts, it's nice to have the event in his backyard.

"It's great to have a big name band like Drive By Truckers come to Edwards," he said. "You get them (big bands) in Vail or Avon, but we actually got them here in Edwards. I've lived here for seven years, and it's nice to have something here. We don't have to go to Avon; we don't have to go to Vail or State Bridge. It's really the only real thing here for us in Edwards."

Brewery Camaraderie

"Ed Fest showcases the lifestyle of the microbrew industry and the camaraderie that we share," Armitage said. "As much as it's a chance to be part of the community, it's also a party for the breweries. From 6 to 10 p.m. (after the tasting), they get to enjoy the festival. It's a fun way for everyone to be a part of the brewery community and just have fun."

This year, approximately 65 craft breweries and distilleries will be taking part in Ed Fest, including many who are new to the event. Mockery Brewing and Baere Brewing, both from Denver, and Coda Brewing from Aurora, are all first-timers at Ed Fest, as are several other newcomers to the craft beer scene. Brewers are bringing their tastiest batches from locations as far-flung as California and as close as down the road.

Vail Brewing Company, which opened its doors in May, will be attending Ed Fest for the first time this year. It's an event that they're looking forward to.

"None of us have ever participated as a customer, or as a business at Ed Fest," said Sarah Boberschmidt, tap room manager at Vail Brewing Company. "It is a well-talked up event and should provide a great opportunity as a vendor to talk to Vail Valley locals about our business. Hopefully, one of the benefits will be attracting new local customers to Vail Brewing Company."

Located in Eagle-Vail, the Vail Brewing Company currently has 11 beers on tap. They're still deciding what they'll bring to the festival, but Boberschmidt said that they might bring an IPA and possibly their Coffee Pale Ale.

"Since we are a new local brewery, we love any opportunity we can get to expose ourselves at a local event," Boberschmidt said. "We are all about supporting local businesses, such as Crazy Mountain, who is hosting Ed Fest."

Embracing the community

The support is a two-way street. Craft beer, as an industry, tends to be inclusive, advocating for and accepting new businesses. As organizers of the festival, Crazy Mountain not only accepts requests from new breweries to participate, but they also seek out new companies.

"We really try to reach out to up-and-coming breweries," Armitage said. "It's a great way to get their brand out there and to be embraced in community."

The Ed Fest festivities start on Friday, with a dinner for VIP ticket holders that includes lives music, special beer samplings and farm-to-table menu. The tasting takes place Saturday, with unlimited samplings for ticket holders from 3 to 6 p.m. Colorado bands including the Altitones and the Jay Roemer Band will be performing on stage during the beer tasting.

At 6 p.m., the beer tasting shuts down and a main cash bar opens, selling beer, wine and cocktails. The live music continues with DJ Logic and the Drive By Truckers will perform from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $39 prior to August 15 and $49 for day-of sales; VIP tickets are $79. For more information or to buy tickets, go to http://www.edfestbeer.com.

If you go …

What: Fifth annual Ed Fest beer and music festival

Where: Freedom Park, Edwards

When: VIP dinner Friday, tastings and concerts on Saturday

How much: Tickets are $39 prior to Saturday and $49 for day-of. VIP tickets are $70.

More info: http://www.edfestbeer.com