Microbrewing in Vail
It’s 2 p.m. Saturday.
Outside, it’s sunny and about 50 degrees, perfect fall weather. Inside, people are warming up with dozens of different beers and mini massages.
“The combination of both is perfect,” says Steve Larson, 26, of Eagle-Vail, after a few beers and a 15-minute massage. “The massage compliments the beer.”
Larson is among the more than 100 people at Saturday’s second Mountain Microbrew Festival at the Vail Casacade Resort.
The event features 19 Colorado breweries, mini massages, balloon art, seminars, live Austrian music and German food.
Three local breweries – Gore Range Brewery, High Point Brewery and Kaltenberg Castle Brewery, Inc. – are also among the guest breweries.
“Microbrew is a smaller system of brewing,” says Kerry Hose, an assistant brewer with Pug Ryan’s Steak House in Dillon. The brewery produces about 500 barrels per year – some 1,000 kegs. “Microbrews are better because it’s not mass-produced beer. Every brewer has its own recipe. Mass-produced beer usually tastes the same. We can change our recipes, put less or more alcohol or change the taste.”
As an assistant brewer, Hose says he is in charge of checking the overall quality of the beer.
“Tasting the beer is part of what I do,” says the 34-year-old Silverthorne resident. “But I don’t get drunk on the job.”
Danielle Minyard of Vail is trying her second beer. Beer glasses only get from one to two inches of beer per try.
“I love the wheat beer. It was so refreshing,” says Minyard, 23.
Already on his sixth glass, Shaun Stuntz, 24, of Avon, says microbrewed beer is far superior to mass-produced beer.
“The flavor is better,” he says. “Most of the mass-produced beer taste so much like water.”
Other breweries at the festival include Odell’s Brewery, Dillon Dam Brewery, Carver Brewing Co., Cooper Smiths Pub and Brewery, Big Horn Brewery, Back Country Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery, Great Divide Brewery, Pug Ryan’s Brewery, Glenwood Canyon Brewery, Tommy Knocker Brewery, Flying Dog, New Belgium Brewery, Oasis Brewery and Stone Brewing Co.
Dana Johnson, an avid home brewer, this year has a booth featuring an audio/visual presentation of how to home-brew.
And there are about 30 different kinds of beer for all tastes. Flying Dog, for example, pours its “In Heat Wheat,” an authentic hefeweizen with a smooth, full-mouth feel and a fruity aroma; and its “Road Dog Scottish Porter,” a rich, malty beer with hints of chocolate and licorice.
“I like the ale beer, it’s lighter and sweeter,” says Amy Goldschmitt, 27, of Avon, as she tries a Tommy Knocker Brewery ale.
“All beer is is grain and water,” says Chris Ryan of Tommy Knocker Brewery, which produces about 8,000 barrels a year in Idaho Springs.
“The difference in taste comes from the grains used and hops,” he adds.
In between beers, some opt for Christa Stabile’s 15-minute back and arm massage.
“I’m just promoting well being in the midst of beer drinking,” says Stabile, a massage therapist at the Aria Spa and Club.
Others munch on the delicious Nita Crisps, flat bread crackers available on every booth. The crackers, made in Fort Collins, are perfect with wine, beer and cheeses.
“This year’s event is very successful,” says Scott Gubrud of the Vail Cascade Resort. “Last year at this time, we had one-third of the people.”
More than 80 tickets are sold by 3 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Vail Breast Cancer Awareness Group.
The purpose of the event, Gubrud says, is to bring people from the front range in the off season and to offer locals something fun to do.
“By creating events during the off season, we’ll hopefully drive more business to Vail,” he says.
Even the Vail police is there, busy … but only checking on IDs.
“We are making sure that everybody is abiding by the rules,” says Sergeant Kurt Mulson.
In the meantime, Shaun Stuntz says he plans to try all the beers available at the festival.
“I rode the bus here,” he says, heading to the next booth.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.