Big Beers Festival Heats Things Up in Breckenridge

The Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival kicks off beneath the slopes of Breckenridge Mountain Resort. Photo: Neill Pieper

The Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival kicks off beneath the slopes of Breckenridge Mountain Resort. Photo: Neill Pieper

Beer Tasting, Food Pairings and Education Part of January 10-12 Festival

By Kyle Kirves

Got to give it to those Belgians, right? The waffles, the chocolate and, with apologies to the French, pommes frites that are much more appetizing than their Frankish cousins. And that beer, my God, that beer! Belgian ales produced by monks whose devotion to the, dare I say, religion of brewing, are celebrated the world over.

The beers aren’t only big in flavor, but also big in size at the Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival. Photo: Neill Pieper

The beers aren’t only big in flavor, but also big in size at the Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival. Photo: Neill Pieper

But no need to book a flight to Europe to savor the flavor of Belgium. There are plenty of American artisans whose passion for brewing beer in the Belgian style will be on full display at the annual Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival in Breckenridge. The Festival, on tap for Jan. 10-12 and held at Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center, affords beer lovers of all types a chance to taste more than a hundred big, bold, Belgian-style and experimental beers and interact with the people on the front lines of craft brewing.

More than one accomplished brewer will tell you that - while other festivals are great in their own right and the craft beer enthusiasm in Colorado is phenomenal - Big Beers is a favorite of the brewers themselves. Now in its 19th year, Big Beers is a Breckenridge staple and Summit County is certainly part of the attraction. Most importantly to brewers and enthusiasts alike is the three-day tour through the fabulous and flavorful world of unapologetically fortifying beer.

And that tour means much more than just a tasting event - Big Beers is an education. Fans of HUGE beer can customize their experience by buying tickets to the events that most appeal to their palate from a list of more than 10 sessions, including brewmaster, technical and sensory tracks. Others, though, are free with admission, including a Cicerone workshop, cigar pairing and the Yoga of Brewing.

The event’s signature showcase events are, perhaps, the dinners. On Thursday, Jan. 10, aficionados can take in the Calibration Dinner with hosts Adam Avery of Avery Brewing and cross-country cohort from Dogfish Head, Brian Selders. Friday’s main event is hosted by Ska Brewing’s Dave Thibodeau and Lasse Ericsson from Swedish brewery Nynäshamns. Both dinners offer five-course, drool-worthy culinary world tours, bringing together tastes from Asia and Europe and twinning each course with an offering from the host breweries. Full menus and an events schedule are available from the Big Beers website at bigbeersfestival.com

Everything’s bigger in Breckenridge this coming weekend: bigger mountains, catching bigger air, bigger and better good times, and with bigger and bolder beers. There simply is no better – or bigger – place for the Big Beers Festival than Breck, where the Belgian tradition has another home ... no monastic vow required. 

Catch a few runs in the morning at Breckenridge Ski Resort before you sample some brews. Photo: Neill Pieper

Catch a few runs in the morning at Breckenridge Ski Resort before you sample some brews. Photo: Neill Pieper