Vail beer fest a boost to image, bottom line
Whenever Chuck Campagna comes to Vail, Colorado, he raises some eyebrows.Campagna, one of the brewers at the Glenwood Canyon Brewery, said whenever he and the crew from the brewpub in Glenwood Springs come to the Vail area, a lot of people are surprised to learn about his place.Sometimes, learning about the brewpub at a festival translates into new customers.They dont come in large numbers, but they come, Campagna said.The crew from Glenwood Canyon will be in Vail Saturday for the annual Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines festival. Theyll be joined by more than 80 other American and international breweries showing off their best heavy-duty beers.Festival organizer Bill Lodge of High Point Brewing a Gypsum-based distributing company sells a lot of those beers to restaurants, bars and liquor stores. For him, the festival is both a personal passion and a bottom-line proposition.This is about exposing more and different beers to clients, Lodge said. In the beginning, probably two-thirds of the beers at the event were beers I carried. Now theres much more.While the Saturday afternoon commercial tasting is the best-attended event at the festival, Lodge said the seminars and homebrew competition are important to building the culture of beer.The seminars are key, Lodge said. We didnt want just a drunk-fest, so we try to force people to try different things, to learn about the beers.This years event includes a couple of events that teach people about pairing beer with food. One of them is the start of training for people who want to be a cicerone, the beer equivalent of a sommelier.If were going to push beer to where wine is heading, thats essential, Lodge said.Beyond bringing people to more breweries and more attention to High Point, Lodge said the festival has also become something of a tourist attraction.We have people who plan their vacations around the festival, Lodge said. Its become something that brings people to town.For Campagna and the crew from Glenwood Canyon, festivals are a chance to get out of the brewery.We like to meet other brewers, Campagna said. We share notes and talk about beer. And, of course, you cant really talk about beer unless youre drinking beer, too.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or email@example.com.