Winter Park Beer Festival
Visit Winter Park, Colorado
8th Annual Winter Park Beer Festival
By: Tyler Macleod
Colorado is a prideful state. So prideful in fact, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing the state flag emblazoned on a billboard, store front, t-shirt or the back of a Subaru while driving down I-70. Natives find it hard to leave, and transplants find it hard to move anywhere else. And who can blame them? With some of the world’s best skiing coupled with our nation’s best mountain biking (right here in Winter Park, mind you) there’s a long list of reasons why Colorado should be proud.
And while most people automatically think about towering mountains, powder-filled skiing and the various forms of “greenery” when the topic of Colorado comes up, there is perhaps another source of state pride that gains a greater reputation with each passing year – beer.
It was over 20 years ago that Lloyd Christmas, in the 1994 cult classic film Dumb and Dumber, so elegantly labeled the Centennial State “a place where the beer flows like wine,” (yes, he was specifically talking about “a little place called Aspen,” but you get the point), and whether he knew something we didn’t or not, the beer surely seems to be flowing at an all-time-high rate these days.
Which is probably why the 8th Annual Winter Park Beer Festival was one of the most successful to date. On Saturday, August 5, 2017, the popular event hosted over 45 different microbreweries, and while there were vendors in attendance such as California’s Ballast Point and Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing Company, the day aimed to highlight the many craft beers (and ciders) from the home state of Colorado.
Larger, more well-known breweries such as Oskar Blues, Breckenridge Brewery and Great Divide lined their tents up along smaller, more locally based breweries such as Winter Park’s very own Hideaway Park Brewery, where thirsty attendees could sample some of their favorite brewers’ staple offerings, in addition to trying out newer, more obscure beverages as well.
As beer enthusiasts walked around the tight, but incredibly friendly, beer-fueled space of Hideaway Park, they could line up to sample classics such as Boulder Beer’s potent Mojo IPA, or the Chocolate Lager from our neighbor to the north – Wyoming’s Snowy Mountain Brewery.
And unlike other brew festivals, the Winter Park Beer Festival offered tickets that included unlimited tastings – a huge advantage for beer aficionados who wanted few restrictions on what (and of course, how much) they could drink. This meant that there was really no excuse to try everything and anything, and you can bet that’s exactly what many attendees were going to do.
So as the beer continued to flow throughout the afternoon, the threatening storm clouds overhead became less and less of a worry. Even as the rain started to drizzle down, attendees were still eagerly sampling new beverages and enjoying the various musical acts performing on the Rendezvous Event Center stage. Acts such as Colorado locals Ghosts in the Highway delivered high-energy performances that entertained festival goers from all ages and kept spirits high (along with the booze, probably) once the clouds started to turn gray.
Luckily, when the sky did decide to unload some rain, attendees were able to find refuge beneath the safety of the beer vendors’ tents, where they could continue to sample brews and enjoy the experience regardless of what the weather had in store. For those who didn’t want to brave the elements, they found solace in retreating to some of Winter Park’s very own watering holes, where they could continue to keep the beer flowing from the safety of the indoors. And as the event officially came to a close around 5 p.m., the party continued just down the street at the local Winter Park Pub, offering more live music and drink specials through the evening.
Without question, the 8th Annual Winter Park Beer Festival proved yet again to be one of the community’s staple summer events – providing a fun, family-friendly environment where adults could try out some new beers alongside some old favorites, and kids and designated drivers could enjoy plenty of live music and a plethora of food options. While the event was a great way to expose the many smaller breweries in Colorado and elsewhere, it also annually strives to give back to the Winter Park community through its support of both the Grand Foundation and the Samantha Remington Angel Heart Foundation. Proceeds from the event directly benefited each philanthropic organization, meaning that the festival attendees could rest easy knowing that their money went to a good cause…although a belly full of beer may have helped, too.
If you missed out on attending the 8th Annual Winter Park Beer Festival, be sure to mark your calendar for 2018. In the meantime, you can learn more about the event, its vendors, and the organizations it benefits by visiting online at https://winterparkbeerfestival.com.
An East Coast transplant, Tyler grew up just north of Baltimore, Md., where he studied Journalism and New Media at nearby Towson University. He moved to Grand County in the fall of 2011, and aside from a brief stint in Bozeman, Mont., has called the Fraser Valley home ever since. Currently, he is a freelance writer and photographer who spends the majority of his free time snowboarding, cycling, and hanging out at the local skatepark.