Vail Valley: Tapping insanity at Loaded Joe’s |

Vail Valley: Tapping insanity at Loaded Joe’s

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Valley party: Hordes of people turn out for the annual Donkey Chug local's appreciation party at Loaded Joes in Avon, Colorado each spring. The celebration gets under way at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado “-620 Vail Valley beers.

That’s how many cold ones the employees at Loaded Joe’s in Avon will pour on Saturday. More importantly, each of those beers will be free. Loaded Joe’s fifth annual Donkey Chug, the bar’s springtime local’s appreciation event, starts at 2 p.m. Saturday. A total of five kegs of beer, good beer nonetheless “-Steamworks Brewery Colorado Kolsch and Bridgeport Ropewalk Amber Ale ” will be tapped and handed to reaching hands just as fast as the bartenders can pour them, said Kent Beidel, owner of Loaded Joe’s.

Avon resident Ben Swonke, 30, is a loyal Loaded Joe’s patron. He attended the Donkey Chug last year and plans to attend Saturday’s party as well.

“Last year I got here a little bit late but I plan to be here right at 2 p.m. and start when it starts,” he said.

‘Come early’

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Beidel and the Loaded Joe’s crew will tap a keg every other hour beginning at 2 p.m.

“Come early if you want to get a few beers,” Beidel said. “Eventually people start lining up for the next keg before we even get to tapping it. By the second and third keg, we’re emptying the keg as fast we can open the valve and let it come out.”

To say the event is popular is an understatement. Really it’s a good thing there’s a whole year between Donkey Chug’s, otherwise the “insanity” might be too fresh in the employees minds to agree to work it.

“It’s kind of more crazy than we can handle, which is great, we don’t mind doing it because we like to have a good time, but everyone ends up working their tails off,” Beidel said.

Similar to the free latte day Loaded Joe’s offers one autumn day each year, the event is meant as a big thank you to loyal customers. Along with free beer, three musical acts are set to play throughout Saturday afternoon and evening, including local musician Tom Naab, the Bonfire Acoustic Dub and DJ Jamo.

So why, you might ask, is this event called the Donkey Chug?

“The 5th annual Loaded Joe’s appreciation party was too long, so we just called it Donkey Chug,” Beidel said. “Marketing this event is fun and people remember the name and ask questions. Really, I should come up with a funnier answer, but I haven’t yet.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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