Vails big brew-ha-ha |

Vails big brew-ha-ha

Caramie Schnellcschnell@vaildaily.comVail CO, Colorado
Daily File Photo/Preston Utley

VAIL Boring beer isnt all bad. After all, its the reason Bill Lodge created the annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival nine years ago. He wanted to educate people about the more, well, compelling beer options on the market. I was frustrated, Lodge said. Colorado is in the forefront of the brewing industry but the fact was our drinkers in Colorado were drinking pales and ambers and there was so much out there that they werent exploring. I wanted to force people to broaden their horizons and try something theyd never had before.If Lodge, the owner of High Point Brewing Corporation in Gypsum, didnt do something to try to change the status quo, hed be just as much to blame, he said. So he created a beer festival thats the short version of a long story, at least. The festival, which starts Thursday and continues through Saturday, started out as an afternoon-only event held at 8150 and The Hubcap Brewery, both located in the now-demolished Crossroads in Vail. This weeks festival is at least five times the size of the original event, Lodge said. It now includes beer pairing dinners, a handful of seminars and workshops, a homebrew competition and the final hurrah Saturdays commercial tasting, which begins at 1 p.m. and will feature more than 175 brews. Lodges main goal with the festival is education, though theres a charitable component as well all the proceeds benefit the Vail Valley Charitable Fund.

One of the most popular events, at least for home brewers, is the annual homebrew competition. Entries were still rolling in just days before the event, but at last count festival organizers had recieved nearly 150 beer entries spanning a total of 36 categories Baltic Porter, Russian Imperial Stout, Belgian and French Ales, Belgian Strong Ale, Imperial IPA and Barleywine among them. The category with the most entries and interest is the specialty category, said Laura Lodge, festival organizer and founder Bill Lodges sister.Its our signature category because were looking for experimental and out-of-the-box stuff, Laura said. If you have something thats amazing but doesnt fit any of the categories, you enter it there.The grand prize winner of the competition will have a commercial batch of their beer recipe brewed and kegged at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora. The commercial batch will be entered into the ProAm competition at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009, Laura said. Avon resident and home brewer Bill Phillips is entering a raspberry lambic he brewed in his basement in September 2007 into the home brew competition this year. Lambics are an extremely slow fermenting beverage, Phillips said, explaining the age of his entry.I doubt itll win anything but its definitely worthy of entering it so I went ahead and entered it. Its tasty, he said.Phillips plans on doing more than competing and drinking at this years festival though, he said. He plans to network and talk to people who share his love of suds about starting the first home brew club in the Vail Valley. Though nothings been finalized, HAH, which stands for High Altitude Homebrewers, is one of the names that has been mentioned for the club, Phillips said. Now thats a good brew-ha-ha. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

The Friday afternoon Experimental Brewers Welcome Reception will present one brew each from Wynkoop Brewing Co., Flying Fish Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co. This event offers the opportunity to hobnob with some of the most innovative brewers in the world and enjoy Vail Marriott Chef Mercer Mohrs tasty pairings. Brewing Outside of the Box: Brewers Gone Wild! This seminar will focus on experimental brewing as viewed by brewers from different brewing environments. All four Experimental Brewers will show a brew or two as part of their presentation. The 2009 panel includes: C. Andrew Brown, Wynkoop Brewing Co.; Casey Hughes, Flying Fish Brewing Co.; Nick Ison, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Kristin Zantop, Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co. Cicerone Certification This new workshop is free and open to the public. This is an informative introduction to a program that educates, tests and certifies people about beer on three levels Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone and Master Cicerone. This program is the equivalent, and every bit as difficult, as the Sommelier program in the wine world. The program is designed and run by Ray Daniels, a veteran of the U.S. beer industry and president of the Craft Beer Institute. Presented as an overview and introduction/review/tasting of various bewing fundamentals, all will enjoy and benefit from this workshop. Beer & Food Pairing Challenge Back again, Julia Herz of the Brewers Association will challenge her panel of brewers to pair a beer in their portfolio with a specific food. The audience gets to decide who presents the best pairing, as the brewers go head to head. Brewmasters Dinners and Seminars This years International Brewmaster is Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa, Calif. He is credited with creating the Double IPA, and is an icon in the experimental brewing world. He will be featured in the Brewmasters Dinner at Centre V alongside Matt Brophy, Executive Brewer for Flying Dog Brewery, which originated in Aspen many years ago and now makes its home in MD. Flying Dog will feature its Canis Major series of new and outrageous beers.Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery & Adam Avery of Avery Brewing Co. will be opening the festival weekend with Chef Mohr at the 2009 Calibration Dinner at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort on Thursday evening.Courtesy of Laura Lodge, Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival.

What: 9th Annual Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines FestivalWhen: Thursday through Saturday.Where: Vail Marriott Mountain Resort, 715 W. Lionshead Circle, Vail.Cost: Tickets for Saturdays commercial tasting: $35 in advance; $42 at the door; Includes seminars, which will fill up on a first-come, first-served basis. Available 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 & Spirits.Why: Proceeds benefit the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. More information: visit, e-mail or call 970-977-0100.Transportation: Friday and Saturday ECO Transit is offering complimentary passes, and Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. High Mountain Taxi is offering a 50 percent discount on rides from Vail down valley as far as Edwards. ECO Transit bus passes are available in advance at American National Bank in Eagle and at High Point Brewing in Gypsum. Both High Mountain Taxi discount coupons and ECO Transit passes will be available at the festival for transportation home after each evenings events.

Thursday 7:30 p.m.: Calibration Dinner at Vail Marriott Mountain Resort. Sold out.Friday 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Cicerone Certification Program Workshop, open to the public at no charge Noon to 1 p.m.: Experimental Brewers Welcome Reception, Marriott Grand Ballroom Foyer, open to anyone with tickets to the Commercial Tasting or Brewmasters Dinners. 1:30 p.m.: Homebrew Competition Judging. Closed to the public. 8 p.m.: Five-course dinner with beers from Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa, Calif. and Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, MD. Takes place at Centre V in Arrabelle at Vail Square. Sold out.Saturday 10 a.m. to noon: Experimental Brewing Seminar, Marriott lobby near concierge desk. 1 to 7 p.m.: Tasting of 175 commercially-produced beers from around the world 1:30 p.m.: Big Beers Homebrew Competition Awards 2 p.m.: Beer & Cheese: Big Beers Global Challenge: Brewers will vie for the best beer-cheese pairing. Audience members will bestow the Peoples Choice Award upon the winner. 3:15 p.m.: Brewmasters Seminar: Vinnie Cilurzo with Russian River Brewing Co will discuss Funkification: Funky Beers from Wine Country. 4:30 p.m: Brewmasters Seminar: Mayy Brophy with Flying Dog will discuss Recipe Development: A Practical Approach.

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