Great Divide Brewing Co. brewer talks on Big Beers | VailDaily.com

Great Divide Brewing Co. brewer talks on Big Beers

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After 16 years, the annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival underwent several changes, most notably moving from its long-time home at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa to Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center in Breckenridge.

The festival is a week away, Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 7, and although the event restructured this year, it will continue its focus on education and continues to offer the chance to meet brewmasters and brewery owners, participate in seminars and pairing dinners and, of course, taste hundreds of beers.

Showcasing beers from more than 110 breweries and importers, the event gives industry professionals a place to convene and talk shop. Several brewers, including Adam Avery from Avery Brewing Co., Eric Wallace from Left Hand Brewing and Brian Dunn from Great Divide Brewing Co., come back year after year to participate. We caught up with Dunn before the festival to see what it is about Big Beers that keeps him coming back.

VAIL DAILY: How would you sum up the experience of Big Beers in one or two sentences?

BRIAN DUNN: Tables are staffed by brewery owners, brewers or key representatives of breweries, and the beers are outstanding. It's a great place to drink a wide variety of great beer and talk to the folks who brew them.

VD: What is your favorite aspect of Big Beers?

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DUNN: I like that it attracts great breweries and key staff of those breweries. It's such a great event that brewery folks travel from all over to be there and breweries bring lots of hard-to-find and one-off beers.

VD: What keeps you coming back year after year?

DUNN: I don't want to break my streak of having been to every event since it started. Actually, it's probably the camaraderie with other breweries and great beer that keeps me coming back. I also really like that you can ski until early afternoon and then go to the event.

VD: How do you feel about the event's move to Breckenridge?

DUNN: Sometimes change is good, and I'm really excited to see the new venue.

VD: What advice would you give to first-time event-goers?

DUNN: Have some food before you go, stay hydrated and be a little judicious in how many beers you try.