Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival
It was another successful year at the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival in Breckenridge, Colorado. This beer festival is not only unique due to its superior location in a Colorado ski town, but it brings in many talented breweries and of course, amazing and special beers. This is one of my top favorite Colorado beer festivals and it’s a great way to kick off the year!
Big Beers continues to expand each year and this year some of the new and exciting additions were Side Project, Modern Times, Rare Barrel, Fremont, Green Bench, and Cellarmaker. These breweries are making some amazing beers and it is very exciting that they decided to join in the fun at Big Beers.
Weldwerks and Side Project were stealing the show with lines forming immediately upon festival start. There is no question as to why, as both of these breweries are making some incredible and innovative beers. The Derivation Blend #8 from Side Project had to be my favorite beer of the festival. It is a blended barrel-aged imperial stout aged from 1 to 3 years with additions of Sump coffee, vanilla beans, and coconut flakes. Side Project also brought their Barrel Time which is a blended imperial stout aged in Willet and Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels. Both of these stouts come in at 15%.
Weldwerks came with an array of tasty and fun beers. I lost count but I was in their line several times. The Cherry Truffle Medianoche and Single Barrel S’mores Medianoche were two of the favorites from this year. S’mores Medianoche is bourbon barrel aged and then aged on cacao nibs, milk chocolate, toasted marshmallows and graham crackers. Yes, it is perfectly done and tastes like a chocolaty, gooey s’mores. The Cherry Truffle was both tart cherry and chocolaty. Though this beer comes from a complex process of brandy and bourbon barrel aged beers, it did not taste very boozy.
Green Bench was one of the newer breweries to me. I had come across one of their beers while in Fort Lauderdale last spring but did not know a lot about them. I tried a selection of the beers they brought and they are doing a good job. The Tiki Tak was easy, light, and enjoyable. It is a 100% Brettanomyces fermented Gose with Guava and Passion Fruit. The Obscure Barleywine was unexpectedly delicious and my favorite of their beer. I don’t often find myself liking Barleywines but this one was a huge exception. This barleywine is aged in Jamacian rum barrels for 18 months. They describe it has exuding flavors of raisin, juicy dark cherry, toffee, rich caramel, honey, and an intense brown cane sugar.
Though Big Beers does have copious amounts of big, dark, and boozy stouts, it also showcases sours, wild ales, and IPAs. I did not try many IPAs but Outer Range had a selection of delicious ones. The recently released Way Down Double IPA and the collaboration with Odd 13 were excellent. Amalgam Brewing brought a few sours including the Handpicked: Danube Cherry. It is a blend of golden sours refermented on cherries.
I showed up to Casey Brewing just in time to get the last of Jammy. This Blackberry Farmhouse Ale is fermented and aged in oak with both Casey and Side Project cultures. It was truly a delicious beer.
A couple other unique standouts at Big Beers was the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Stout and White Chocolate Cinnamon Latte Stout. 4 Noses out of Broomfield, Colorado recently released Cinnamon Toast Crunch Stout. It has 44 lbs of cinnamon toast crunch! This was a fun beer and they said it’s even tastier on nitro at the brewery. Then the Blonde Stout was a nice switch up from all the barrel aged big beers. This stout is brewed with lactose, white chocolate, guatemalan coffee, and Vietnamese cinnamon sticks. Both were very yummy!
There were many tasty beers but here is a round up of some of my favorites from Big Beers 2018.
Favorite Big Beers
The Big, Boozy, Barrel Aged Beers
- Derivation #8 by Side Project (St. Louis, MO)
- Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb by Fremont (Seattle, WA)
- Single Barrel S’mores Medianoche by Weldwerks (Greeley, CO)
- The Obscure Rum Barrel Aged Barleywine by Green Bench (St. Petersburg, FL)
- Mexican Chocolate Monster’s Park by Modern Times (San Diego, CA)
- Double Barrel by Goose Island (Chicago, IL)
- Rum Barrel-Aged One Great City Belgian Quad by Ratio (Denver, CO)
- Here Be Monsters Imperial Stout by Cerebral (Denver, CO)
- Rum Barrel Aged Spanish Coffee Stout by Crazy Mountain (Edwards, CO)
- Victory at Sea aged in High West Barrels by Ballast Point (San Diego, CA)
The Sour, Wild, and Hoppy Beers
- Jammy Blackberry Farmhouse by Casey (Glenwood Springs, CO)
- Stargate Bourbon and Rye Barrel Aged Golden Sour by Black Project (Denver, CO)
- Handpicked: Danube Cherries Golden Sour by Amalgam (Niwot, CO)
- Tiki Tack Gose by Green Bench (St. Petersburg, FL)
- Way Down Double IPA by Outer Range (Frisco, CO)
- Hopbominable Double IPA by Outer Range (Frisco, CO) and Odd 13 (Lafayette, CO)
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