Boulder Craft Beer Festival
On Saturday, August 19th I went to the Boulder Craft Beer Festival at North Boulder Park. Thirty-two Colorado craft breweries were represented including four from Longmont.
I love going to beer festivals. I think they are a great way to experience different beers without having to travel and it’s been at festivals where I’ve discovered a number of great breweries and beers I wouldn’t have the opportunity to try otherwise.
This year, the Boulder Craft Beer Festival (BCBF) didn’t have quite the variety of different breweries that I would normally like to see at a beer fest. They featured more breweries from Boulder County and places north, such as Loveland and Fort Collins. As someone who has explored a significant number of Colorado breweries, out of the thirty two breweries at the festival, there were only three I’d not tried before; U-Turn BBQ, Asher Brewing, and Soul Squared.
I find beer tasting at a festival to be a bit different from beer tasting in a taproom. For starters, there’s way too much going on for me to sit and focus a 100% of my attention on dissecting the different flavors in a beer— especially if I’m going from one beer booth to another, sampling as I go. Secondly, your taking the taproom experience and truncating it into a quick thirty second transaction. Two ounces of beer says everything about a brewery and it’s difficult to tell if such a small sample will be enough to leave the right impression. When I’m at a festival and tasting several different beers in an afternoon, I’m looking for those breweries that stand out from the crowd, ones that stay on my mind long after the sample is finished and I’ve moved onto the next booth. Those first impressions will impact whether or not I will go out of my way to visit the taproom or by a bomber or six pack at the liquor store.
U-Turn BBQ, Lafayette, CO
My first stop, at the BCBF, was U-Turn BBQ. U-Turn BBQ is a BBQ joint in Lafayette, who also brews their own beer. They had a couple of beers to sample, and I picked the IPA— 4.8% ABV, 40 IBU. As my first beer of the day, I found the U-Turn BBQ IPA to be very disappointing. It had some hoppy flavor and aroma, but over all it was a bland and unexciting beer. It is not something I would seek out again. I would be willing to visit U-Turn to grab a taste of their BBQ, but when it comes to beer, I’ll be making a u-turn to find another brewery.
Asher Brewing, Boulder, CO
Asher has been on my beer radar for quite sometime. Out of the hundreds of breweries vying for my taste buds, Asher, being an organic brewery, stands out from other breweries. I sampled their Green Bullet IPA, 7% ABV, 40 IBU. First impression, spicy and flavorful. Not terribly hoppy, but enough that I could tell I was drinking an IPA. While I couldn’t say for certain that being an organic beer elevated the Green Bullet IPA above other IPAs, I did find that it left enough of an impression that it’s high time I paid a visit to Asher Brewing’s taproom to sample more beer.
Soul Squared, Ft. Collins, CO
The brewery that left the best first impression at the BCBF, for me, was Soul Squared, a Fort Collins brewery, whose claim to fame is being Colorado’s original farm based brewery. They had two Belgian style ales to sample, one was a Belgian Blonde 7.5% ABV, 33 IBU. The other was a Belgian ale brewed with chamomile in collaboration with Boulder’s Celestial Seasonings. I tried the Blonde and found it to be the best beer I sampled that afternoon. It had a sweet, floral flavor with hints of honey. It was very smooth and easy to drink. I could have easily enjoyed more than the sample sizes they were pouring, and the next time I’m up north I will have to stop in and visit Soul Squared.
Longmont Breweries at Boulder Craft Beer Fest
Out of the thirty two different breweries featured this weekend at BCBF, Longmont had four breweries attend; Left Hand Brewing, Oskar Blues, Wibby Brewing, and Open Door.
I stopped by to take a peak at the beers each of the breweries had brought along. Of the four Wibby was the only Longmont brewery to bring something I’d not tasted before, their Light Shine Radler. For a hot summer day with the sun beating down, the Light Shine Radler was a wonderful treat. Light and refreshing, with a burst of lemon and raspberry on the tongue. Wibby Brewing and Light Shine Radler was a great way to finish off the Boulder Craft Beer Fest.