Eighth annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival set for Jan. 10 to 12
Reign? In Vail? One hopes that deep powder would be more apropos in January. Nonetheless, brewmasters and barleywines will be pairing up with skis and snowmobiles from Jan. 10 to 12 in Vail. Often ranked No. 1 in the world by skiing magazines, home to diplomats and celebrities, featuring the art and craft of fabulous chefs, Vail also hosts a beer festival for both craft and specialty imports.Tomme Arthur, the Great American Beer Festivals 2007 Small Brewery Brewer & Brewery of the Year with The Lost Abbey in San Diego joins Colorados Doug Odell, also an award-winner for his creations at the GABF, as the 2008 featured brewmasters of the eighth annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival. Traditionally featuring a unique, international commercial tasting of more than 150 Big and Belgian-style beers, educational Seminars by the brewmasters, a big beers home brew competition touting 147 entries from more than 20 states and 40 highly regarded judges in 2007 andb rewmasters dinner, the event has become a winter destination for some of the most serious beer enthusiasts.New to the 2008 festival, Julia Herz of the Brewers Association will be moderating a discussion Food and Beer on Jan. 12. Also new, White Labs Yeast Co. is underwriting an experimental-brewing seminar. The 2008 experimental panel includes Will Meyers (Cambridge Brewing Company), Adam Avery (Avery Brewing Company), Peter Bouckaert (New Belgium Brewing Company) and Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head Brewery), each touting celebrity brewing status in their own right.Odell, founder/brewmaster of Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins will be featuring his big beers with Arthurs abbey- style creations. Arthur is the director of brewery operations for both The Lost Abbey & Port Brewing, and he and Odell will be hosting and speaking at their brewmasters dinner Jan. 11. Arthur will be offering his Judgment Day (dark strong ale) and The Angels Share (bourbon barrel aged version of English-style barleywine) as contributions to the evening, and Odell will be including his extra special red and an old ale that he is currently crafting.Chef Mercer Mohr, Ocotillo executive chef, and guest Beer Chef Bruce Patton of the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco will be pairing these and other beers from each brewery with a course, promising a five-course, fine-dining adventure of a beer and cuisine.The newly renovated Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa is host to the 2008 Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival. In addition to expanding the brewmasters dinner, chef Mohr willbe pairing more-casual, small-luncheon plates with the experimental brewers beers, and guests will be able to try various pairings during the commercial tasting on their own.Opening the weekend, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Del., and Avery will be celebrating and reminiscing about their first big beers brewmasters dinner (2005) on Jan. 10 at The Blue Tiger in Cascade Village. For more information about the Big Beers Festival, visit http://www.bigbeersfestival.com.