15 breweries offering up their frosty brews
By David Josselyn
Hundreds of beer drinkers united to sample free-flowing ales and lagers for the auspicious occasion of the Great Central City Beer Fest on Saturday, August 24th. Vendors from more than 15 different breweries, tap houses and restaurants gathered along Main Street to promote their intoxicating wares. Many of the brewers also advertised for their primary hops provider, Voss Farms in Arvada. Several beer tents went so far as to decorate the tables, poles and awning with the hops vines that flavor their beer. Although the day proved to be alternately wet with rain then dry with sun, the weather was little noticed by the people on the street. When the rains came down, people gathered under a vendor’s tent and continued to imbibe. For those present in the mid-afternoon, they were treated to three special encore performances from the Wild Bunch Gang whose Old West weapons were heard blocks away. Live music from three bands played through the street and for something completely different, belly dancers entertained the crowd gathering for the headlining band, The Young Dubliners. The belly dancers were not the only people dancing in the street; however, as several event goers were seen shaking their thing. The Beer Fest was a fantastically fun event for a wonderful end to summer in Central City.
The bringers of brews
Colorado Malting Company featuring San Luis Valley Brewing beers – Jason Cody, President of Colorado Malting, brought along his brother Bobby Cody to represent their family owned farms located in southern Colorado. The Cody family has been growing barley and wheat in the valley for many years and has only recently entered the brewing game. They were “trying to add value to their barley business,” says Jason. “And because we love beer,” added Bobby. They featured beer from the San Luis Valley Brewing Company, one of their many clients. The Cody’s did not limit their sampling to the family brews, but also brought along the barley nuggets that they use for people to taste. An unusual flavor on tap was the SLV Kiwi Ale and surprisingly, kiwi goes well with barley giving the beer a fresh taste. The San Luis Valley Brewing Co beers can only be found in the Alamosa area and at special events. The barley from Colorado Malting; however, can be tasted in many beers around Colorado.
AC Golden Brewing Company – Steve “Fletch” Fletcher, brewmaster for AC Golden, was pouring the Colorado Native and IPL beers. The company took over the old pilot facility of Coors in Golden to create a tap house for their award winning drinks. Although not on tap for the Central City Beer Fest, their Russian Imperial Stout won a bronze medal at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival in 2012. AC Golden’s craft beers can be found at The Reserve Casino and in liquor stores throughout Colorado.
Dillon Dam Brewery – the well-established brewery from Dillon came to Central pouring two seasonal beers and one regular beer for the good people of Gilpin County. Brewmaster Cory Forster who has been passionate about beer for most his life, represented the brewery. Cory, trying to break in to a good brewery, volunteered for every beer fest he could find. As Cory tells it, a Dillon Dam representative was so impressed with his skills, he was handpicked to work for the brewery. On tap in Central was a seasonal Hefe Weizen, Dam IPA, and a customer favorite, Sweet Georgia Brown. The Dillon Dam Brewery beers can be found in their 270 seat restaurant in Dillon, or sold in stores in Summit County, Buena Vista and Salida.
Wynkoop Brewing Company – pioneered by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the Wynkoop Brewing Company climbed the mountain to Central City with plenty of beer in tow. Shannon Berner, beerfriender of Wynkoop, was kept busy pouring their Patty’s Chile Beer, Black Lager, Silverback, and Rail Yard beers. A beerfriender is someone who is responsible for social media, public relations, and events according to Shannon Berner. Shannon took over for Marty Jones who went on to form the Marty Jones Band playing at the Central City Beer Fest.
Tivoli Beer – Corey and Debbie Marshall are resurrecting the old Tivoli Beer formulas and reproducing them as closely as possible to bring back to the public something they believe has been sorely missed. They have brewed the original Tivoli Beer and Sigi’s Wild Horse Buck Beer. Sigi’s Wild Horse was the “most popular beer” from 1864-1874 in Colorado according to brewmaster Corey and follows an old German style of brewing using ale yeast, but brewed like a lager.
Dostal Alley – Gilpin County’s only local brewhouse proudly poured their Pub Ale and seasonal Summer Ale on the street, but gladly filled you up with Shaft House Stout, Jacob Mack, and American City Pale if you stepped inside. Dostal is a family owned business and has been serving Central City since 1991 when gaming moved into town. The brewing started seven years later in 1998 to offer the citizens and gamers something different that no other establishment can. Buddy Schmalz, Dave Thomas and CinDee Spellman were on the street during the Fest eager to share their stories and their beer.
Arvada Beer Company – Another family owned beer company, Arvada Beer had on tap their Ralston’s Golden Ale and Arvada Pride Double IPA. Arvada Beer takes pride in giving back to the community through donations. The parents, Cary and Kelly Floyd sent their youngsters, Carli Floyd and Ben Schley up the mountain to the Central City Beer Fest. The Floyd’s use hops from Voss Farms in Arvada which provides hops to many brewing companies across Colorado. Arvada Beer Company has a taproom in Arvada and can be found on tap in Old Chicago and Buffalo Wild Wings in the north metro area, as well as in the Golden Hotel.
Tommyknocker Brewery – Gilpin’s neighbor, Clear Creek County’s very own brewery, Tommyknocker also showed up for the festival. The manager of the bottle line, Randy Nelson, poured out some Pumpkin Harvest Ale, Saison Ale, and IPA And A Half – an experimental IPA, for the beer lovers. Randy has been working for Tommyknocker since 1999 and has stayed because the company is a “great place” and has “great people.” Tommyknocker beers are now distributed in 28 states and five countries.
Back Country Brewery – Based in Frisco, Back Country is in a ‘friendly’ competition with Dillon Dam Brewery for beer sales in Summit County. They were in Central with four beers on tap; Amber, Pilsner, Porter, and Wheat. Back Country Brewery is a full restaurant and brew house that distributes from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs on the front range, Eagle and Summit counties on the west slope, and also in Phoenix, Arizona.
Very Nice Brewing – Owners Jeffrey and Susan Green started Very Nice Brewing almost one year ago on October 1st, 2012, because they have a “total passion for beer.” Jeffrey said that at his old job, “all I can think about is beer,” so he decided to make a living brewing his passion. On tap for the festival were the Imperial We IPA, Very Nice Pale Ale, and Steffie’s Heffe. Very Nice Brewing is located in the Caribou Village Shopping Center in Nederland and will be hosting a one year anniversary party in their tap room on October 1st.
Twisted Pine Brewery – from Boulder, Colorado, Twisted Pine came to Central City to give people a taste of their Raspberry Wheat, Hoppy Boy IPA, Billy’s Chilies, and Ghost Face Killah beers. Jody Valenta, General Manager of Twisted Pine, said that she has been working 18 years for Twisted Pine for “the love of beer.” Their motto is to be “absolutely encouraged to get weird with beer,” which is reflected with their flavor varieties. The Ghost Face Killah is brewed with ghost chilies and tastes like liquid roasted chilies that smack you in the end with spicy heat.
Cannonball Creek Brewing – based in Golden, Cannonball Creek brewmaster Brian Hutchinson got into home brewing which was “way more fun than what I was doing at the time,” which led to the creation of Cannonball Creek. Brian’s old job was teaching junior high students, so make of that what you will. They were on Main Street pouring their Solid Gold Belgian Golden Ale and Victorville Red.
The Sandlot Brewery – the step-child of MillerCoors, found solely at Coors Field in downtown Denver also came up the hill for the fun. The Sandlot has been around since the stadium opened 18 years ago and is responsible for the creation of almost all of Blue Moon’s craft beers including Blue Moon itself. It is fair to say that the Sandlot is a secret lab of MillerCoors where great beers are born.
Mountain Toad Brewing – a brand new tap house, Mountain Toad, has been in business for three months. Located in Golden and owned by Josh Robbins, they set up camp at the Great Central City Beer Fest to give folks a sample of their Mount Zion IPA and Apex Amber. Josh got the idea of going into the business after he and his then girlfriend, Kaylee Acuff, attempted to visit every brewery in Colorado. They never succeeded in their quest, but managed to visit 110 Colorado breweries before giving up and starting their own. Somewhere along the way, they not only committed to starting a brewery, but also to life with each other and Kaylee now shares Josh’s last name. Their tap house is located on 9th and Washington in Golden.
Not a brewer, but worth getting to know
Colorado Mountain Madness – Cindy Yormowich and Ann Brideau started canning food together and enjoyed their craft so much, started Colorado Mountain Madness after some prompting from friends. They now call themselves “the Queens of Condiments,” focusing on specialty mustards and pickles of all sorts. Their motto is “practice safe dining… use our condiments.” For the festival, they brought along their Jalapeno, Chipotle, and Tekilya mustards. They are located in Summit County and will be back in Central City for Oktoberfest on September 21st.
As always, the festival was not limited to brewers, but to other vendors as well. On the street were frequent vendors JKQ BBQ, Heidi Did It Jerkey, Annie Oakley’s, Bob and Sue Griffith (featuring their Cornish pasties), Kind Mountain Collective, The Reserve Casino, Gilpin History, and KOOL 105. Joe Tinucci, owner of JKQ, was excitedly smoking some Voss Farms hops for AC Golden Brewery alongside their smoked meats. Returning to the street for the second time was Pott Belly BBQ and making their 2013 debut on Central City Main Street were 760 AM and Just Jack.
The day started with The Marty Jones Band. Marty Jones recently left Wynkoop Brewing Company to start his musical gig covering popular songs and throwing in some originals.
Jewel & The Rough made a second appearance this summer with their pop covers from the 80’s through today. Their rendition of Love Shack sounds so much like the B52’s, people thought they were hearing the original song.
The evening brought some traditional beer drinking music with The Young Dubliners. The band describes their sound as Celtic Rock and Roll, combining Irish instruments with modern rock. The sometimes soggy wait during the day was well worth it as the band played their tunes with precision and clarity, causing many people to dance in the streets.
If you missed the Great Central City Beer Fest, do not fret because more great events are still to come. Central City goes beyond our borders for Mexican Independence Day which will be celebrated September 14th featuring the music of Manuel Molina Combo International, El Mariachi International, and Grupo Son Tres Mexican Cumbias. This is followed up the next week, September 21st, by Oktoberfest with the Tom Allan Grengs Polka Band and Jim Ehrlich and the Polkamates. Both events promise great food and a lot of fun.