The real purpose of my visit to the US was in fact a family reunion and Breckenridge was the location. I was very pleased to see signs as I was driving through the town informing me that the following day would be a beer festival. That was very convenient.
There was some debate about going though, we left it until the last minute to decide and by last minute, I mean that we were heading towards the Breckenridge brewery when we came to the entrance and we decided to head in. The reason for our somewhat reluctance was the $30 entry*. There was a plus to the high cost though and that was simply, you could drink as you like. The catch? There were two. Firstly, you are limited to one beer at a time. That means when you join a queue, get to the front and fine a brewery has 6 beers and you have only tasted one before, you have to join the queue again once you are finished with the first one.
There was also another drawback in that the beer festival was on from 1pm till 6pm and it was about 2pm so we only had 4 hours to get our $30 worth and since we are talking sample sizes, that was a challenge and one that I was happy to accept. I think the reason for early finish is that the square is surrounded by condos and apartments so a curfew was necessary. Still, I would hate to be staying in one of those homes regardless.
For the most part we were lucky with the weather but it was one of those days. We could have been in Ireland and there were a few torrential downpours. Typical Colorado weather but especially Breckenridge weather.
Another thing I found odd is that there were police at the exits (not blocked off) and that included an undercover cop it seems. People needing to joing the great divide queue (one of the biggest) were forced to walk on to what was technically the end of the square and around a little raised plant bed type thing got in trouble.
I was lazy and cut across the plant bed but the people who tried to "do the right thing" as they put it were shouted at and told they can't walk around that way and could be arrested?? Madness...
I was glad I got to try the Breckenridge beers at the festival because I did not get to try them at the brewery. The vanilla porter was excellent as well as 471 IPA. I would not bother with Agave wheat though, that said it is pretty typical for an American wheat beer so Americans might think better of it.
The great divide queue was one of the biggest and when I got there, the rain was coming down pretty hard so there were a lot of hard core beer people waiting for their beer. The main problem was that there was only one guy behind the bar, though he was one of the brewers I think. The slightly more formal and hectic format of the festival meant that having a chat with the staff about the beer was pretty much impossible, especially somewhere with a queue like the great divide. That said, he did tell us to stand to the left so we could try another beer without queuing. If it had not been raining or more accurately, if I was not with my family, I would have jumped in and helped him out for a bit.
|Cool place, shame about the weather that day.|
There were a number of breweries that I had not tried before and Grand Teton was one of them. It may have been one of the ones I did not get to before we left to get dinner just before 6pm. The weather had started getting worse and some of the party needed some soakage. I wasn't taking notes, partially because of the weather but also, taking notes at a beer festival becomes very hard to do very quickly due to too much alcohol and palate fatigue.
It was a fun day and the set-up had pros and cons compared to an Irish beer festival. I think I find the more relaxed feel of most Irish events to be a little better but it's well worth going if you find yourself in Breckenridge during a beer festival.
The next evening, a few of us headed out for some beer. We had already eaten so we just wanted a few drinks. It was another day of unsettled weather and there had been a torrential downpour earlier but by now it was dry and fairly sunny even. We went to the Breckenridge brewery but there was a slight problem. The place was a little packed (though there was some space). I think some of the party were put off in that we were not allowed to go outside to the patio area because someone had stupidly put a table in front of the patio door and that was occupied. So we left, against my will I have to say.
At least I had some of their beer at the beer festival and I also had some at a few other venues beforehand.
I got a quick snap of the brewery on the way out, and there were seats at the other end of the building but the feeling was, it was too loud. We ended up going to a sort of Irish bar and sat on their rooftop patio. It was nice enough but I was a little disappointed at being overruled on Breckenridge.
One side note, there was a husky tied to the railings and as soon as we sat down he wandered over and sat down beside us. I think people thought he was ours and for at least an hour we sat there with no sign of the owner. Just as we were getting ready to leave, one of the bar girls came out to pet the dog. We thought it was the owner but she said the owner was inside. I don't think it's cool to tie your dog to a railing outside a bar and ignore it for over an hour without even coming out once in a while to check up on it.
I looked down from he roof to see what the husky was looking at periodically and there were two more dogs tied to a lamp post below with the owner obviously in whatever bar was down there and these dogs were restless and barking.
Colorado is full of dogs but some appear to be less than responsible I think. If you bring your dog to the bar, then sit outside with it. It was a lovely sunny evening FFS.
* $25 if you booked by the day before as it turns out.