Vail hosts Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines Festival |

Vail hosts Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines Festival

Sarah MausolfVail CO, Colorado
AE Steamworks PU 1-6-07

VAIL, Colorado Just when you thought that skunked Coors Light in your fridge was ancient, along comes Midas Touch, a beer 2,700 years old.This weekend, beer lovers will have a chance to sample a recipe from King Midas tomb at the 8th Annual Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines festival, taking place in Vail this weekend.About 50 years ago, archaeologists with the University of Pennsylvania uncovered a tomb in Turkey containing what they presumed to be King Midas remains, along with remnants of his funeral feast.By studying residues left inside drinking vessels, researchers unlocked a secret of ancient drinking habits: mourners at the funeral had been sipping a mix of grape wine, barley beer and honey mead.When we first made the discovery, we thought: This is such a strange thing to mix wine, beer and honey together, university researcher Patrick McGovern said. We should see if we can make a drinkable beverage out of these ingredients.Dogfish Head Brewery & Eats in Delaware was up for the challenge, and soon Midas Touch a modern take on the brew from 700 BC went into commercial production.Its like a liquid time capsule, brewery owner Sam Calagione said. It reminds modern drinkers that people have been enjoying really exotic beers since the birth of civilization.A seminar in Vail titled Brewing Outside the Box: Brewers Gone Wild! will celebrate all that is really exotic in the world of beer-making. The talk is a new addition to the annual festival.Four brewers will discuss unusual beer-making processes and hand out samples. Calagione will share Midas Touch, Will Meyers from Cambridge Brewing Co. in Massachusetts will unveil a summer barley wine and Peter Bouckaert from New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins will discuss microbiology and brewing with wild yeast.Adam Avery, president of Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, said he plans to talk about storing beer in cellars using three samples to show audience members how different beers age.I would hope they see how only time can create certain flavors, he said.

Speaking of experimenting, more than 150 homebrewers from across the country will square off for the festivals Big Beers Homebrew Competition. A panel of 40 beer experts will select winners in a dozen categories like specialty beer and strong ale. The grand prize winner will have a commercial batch of his or her recipe brewed and kegged at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, Colo.The festival will culminate Saturday in a tasting of more than 150 beers from around the world. Offerings will include Belgians and specialty beers with more than 7 percent alcohol.Event coordinator Laura Lodge said the festival is her brothers vision. Bill Lodge, owner of High Point Brewing Corporation in Gypsum, dreamed up the event as a way to educate the public on the somewhat obscure topic of specialty beers.Laura Lodge said she hopes to draw more than 1,000 people to this years event.What we would hope is each person would take the opportunity to try new things, to experiment with new styles, to learn more of what is available to you and to expand their horizons about beer, she said.

If you go …What: 8th Annual Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines festivalWhen: Today through Saturday.Where: Vail Marriott Mountain Resort, 715 W. Lionshead Circle, Vail.Why: Proceeds benefit the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. Organizers hope to raise $5,000. For more information: visit or e-mail Laura Lodge at for Saturdays commercial tasting: $35 in advance; $39 at the door; Includes seminars, which will fill up on a first-come, first-served basis; Available at or at the following liquor stores: West Vail Liquor Mart, Grappa Fine Wines and Spirits, Alpine Wine and Spirits, Beaver Liquors, Avon Liquors, Riverwalk Wine and Spirits.Tickets for Fridays brewmasters dinner: $59.99 per person plus tax and gratuity. Visit the festivals Web site or e-mail Lodge.Thursday 7:30 p.m.: Opening dinner at Blue Tiger. Sold out.Friday 1 to 2 p.m.: Experimental brewers welcome reception, Marriott Grand Ballroom Foyer, open to anyone with tickets to the commercial tasting or brewmasters dinners. 2:30 p.m.: Homebrew Competition Judging. Closed to the public. 8:30 p.m.: Five-course dinner with beers from Odell Brewing in Fort Collins and The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing in California. Takes place in the Marriott Grand Ballroom. Tickets were still available as of Monday.Saturday 10 a.m. to noon: Experimental brewing seminar, Marriott lobby near concierge desk. 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Tasting of 150 commercially-produced beers from around the world 1:30 p.m.: Big Beers Homebrew Awards 2 p.m.: Brewmasters Seminar: Tomme Arthur, director of brewery operations with Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey will discuss Belgian-style farmhouse ales. 3:15 p.m: Brewmasters Seminar: Doug Odell with Odell Brewing will discuss the aromas and flavors various hops and malts bring to the brewing process. 4:30 p.m.: Chocolate & Cheese: Big Beers Global Challenge: Brewers will vie for the best beer-cheese and beer-chocolate pairings. Audience members will bestow the Peoples Choice Award upon the winner.TransportationDiscounted taxi fare on Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.; complimentary passes for ECO Transit on Friday and Saturday.

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