Ed Fest sets bar high for mountain beer festivals

By Neill Pieper

With sponsorship from Crazy Mountain Brewing Co., the 6th annual Ed Fest lit up with great libations, sounds and a vibe that reverberated down the Vail Valley.

Photo - Neill Pieper

Photo - Neill Pieper

Officially known as the Alpine Insurance Agency Ed Fest, last Saturday’s event was held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and featured New Orleans jazz talent Trombone Shorty with Orleans Avenue. The band kept the crowd warm on a brisk evening in the high country.

A local act, The Sessh, set the tone early with funk and rock undertones reverberating throughout the amphitheater while attendees sampled the numerous offerings from breweries, distilleries and cideries.

Photo - Neill Pieper

Photo - Neill Pieper

Trombone Shorty rounded out the night, playing a multitude of tunes inspired by New Orleans roots. Listeners heard a potpourri of styles from improvisational jazz to hip-hop and funk, tying in the many musical varieties found in the Big Easy. Donning a Telluride Brewing Co. baseball cap for much of the show, Troy Andrews (Trombone Shorty) lit up Vail faster than an Odell Drumroll APA.

But Trombone Shorty’s music was only part of the festival diversity. The event kicked off with 40-plus booths, including beverages from around the country. Out-of-state craft beer powerhouses Stone Brewing, Ballast Point, Lagunitas and Alaskan intermingled with local brewers Crazy Mountain, Vail Brewing and more. Sponsor 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits poured coffee-infused vodka along with their rye whiskey, while Stranahan’s was offering mules and tastes of their Colorado staple. New kid on the block, 14er Brewing Co., poured a jalapeno saison that put a Southwest twist on this traditional Belgian Farmhouse style.

Photo - Neill Pieper

Photo - Neill Pieper

The combination of brewers, distillers and cideries along with world-class musicians and the beautiful backdrop helped shape the perfect Colorado beer fest.