The Blues, Brews & BBQ festival in Beaver Creek, CO

My husband was invited to play trumpet with the Tommy Thomas’ Working Man Band at Beaver Creek’s annual Memorial Day Blues, Brews and Barbecue Festival, so here we are in this mountain ski village—enjoying soulful live music accompanied by smoked pork, chicken and sausage drenched in barbecue sauce.

The barbecue is mostly from Colorado restaurants—with a few Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas smokers thrown in for some southern authenticity.

Smokin' Foods, from Tulsa, Okla., was just one of 20 vendors serving barbecued food.

I’ve never seen so many barbecue cookers in one place: they fill this high-altitude air with smoke. Pulled pork, barbecued ribs, smoked cheese, corn-on-the-cob, smoked asparagus, even smoked wild Alaskan salmon: They’re extra tasty here under the blue Colorado sky.

Best of Colorado Microbrews

Great barbecue brings out the southern girl in me, but what really caught my attention about the Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival was a microbrew tasting featuring only Colorado microbrews—the largest such event in the state. I love eating and drinking local—and my home state seems to be blessed with a lot of fine microbrews.

Some highlights:

Colorado Springs' Bristol Brewery

Bristol Brewing (Colorado Springs): Laughing Lab Scottish ale is rich and smoky without being too heavy.

I sampled a couple of chili ales—beers with actual chili peppers in them. You can smell and taste the blend of serrano, habañero, jalapeño, Anaheim and Fresno peppers in Billy’s Chilies, from Boulder’s Twisted Pine Brewery. It’s a bold, spicy brew.

Longmont’s Lefthand Brewing served one of my favorites, Polestar Pilsner, but I branched out an sampled its Milk Stout. Not surprising, the coffee tones of a stout blend beautifully with a little milk.

Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora gets high marks from us for its Apricot Blonde ale—the pureed fruit makes this slightly cloudy beer a winner for summer sipping.

Durango Brewing Company

Durango Brewing’s Blueberry Wheat was another fruity pleasure: with just a hint of blueberry, it seems like a light treat afternoon treat.

Trinity Brewing (Colorado Springs) was sampling two interesting “flavors.” Its Southern Hospitality has a lightly pecan taste, and Farmhouse was a bit citrusy, which is something I like in a beer.

Pagosa Brewing presented the lovely Kayaker Cream Ale.

The surprise of the event was Colorado Native, a brewer in Golden. I commented wryly about “Who knew Golden had another gig in town besides Coors?” As it turns out, the artisanal lager is a Coors subsidiary—and it’s made from only Colorado-grown ingredients (and sold only in the Centennial State too). Both Ken and I loved this amber lager.

Del Norte Brewing in Denver specializes in Mexican-style brews.

The Colorado microbrew tasting, sponsored by the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort, was held on May 28, 2011, so alas, all you local beer enthusiasts will have to wait until next year to sip the best of Colorado’s suds.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

Showing 2 comments
  • Melanie Mulhall


    Whoo Hoo! That looks like one heckuva good time. I love your assessment of the microbrews. I have family from Maine arriving next week. We’re going to be doing some landscaping in my yard and that kind of work calls for an occasional beer. I’m going to look for some of your suggestions. Thanks for that!

    Melanie Mulhall

    • Laurel

      The Dry Dock apricot beer would be swell. Or give ’em a jolt with Twisted Pine’s chili beer (better have tortilla chips on hand!). Happy landscaping!

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