Food & Drink

Beer festival brings state’s top brewers to Central City

By Jeffrey V. Smith
Sample some of Colorado’s best brews and support the Gilpin County Historical Society at the Great Central City Beer Festival. Back for its third year, Aug. 23, the event features 18 breweries and unlimited pours that will flow from 1-6 p.m. along with live music, food and art vendors.

While the event is relatively small compared to some of the state’s many other beer festvials, it still sets itself apart. “Most beer festivals are preaching to the choir,” Very Nice Brewing Brewer Jeff Green said. “This one is unique in the fact that there are many first-time craft beer drinkers and they are getting a heck of a baptism with some really great breweries from their immediate area. Many walk away with the seeds of a new passion.”

It’s also popular with the staff of the breweries that participate. “Everybody, including those brewers who attend many other beer festivals throughout the year, say the cozy atmosphere of closed-off Main Street, ability to quickly duck into local businesses if it rains, food vendors and music program make the GCCBF one of their favorites and want to be invited back each year,” Dostal Alley Brewer Dave Thomas said.

Very Nice Brewery will be back for the third time this year. Green, who feels all craft beer benefits from “exposing folks to beer other than just the yellow and fizzy stuff,” backs the festival because “first and foremost, we get to support local, it’s in our back yard after all.”

Other reasons to attend, according to Green, include its setting in a “beautiful area with tons of beer history” and that attendees can explore all the wild hops patches from the late 1800s that still grow in the town.

According to Thomas, the event is “maybe the only beer fest that is held in tandem with and supports a historic cemetery crawl.” The 26th Annual Gilpin County Historical Society Cemetery Crawl will be held at the Knights of Pythias Cemetery above Central City from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Proceeds from the beer festival also support the historical society.

Visiting with the other craft brewers and having the cemetery crawl characters and Wild Bunch gunfighters walk the street along with craft beer and music aficionados is something else Thomas appreciates about the festival. More importantly, “some of the brewers who attend GCCBF pour beers that have never been available for sale or at any other beer festival,” he added.

Live music will be featured during the event. Changing Lanes Experience, Jewel & The Rough, and Marty Jones & The Great Unknown will all take the stage.

Jones’ band headlines the event and plays music that blends rockabilly, honky-tonk, roots rock and hillbilly stomp into a fresh new form. “Our stuff is comprised of equal parts honest heartbreak and irreverent humor, and a staunch appreciation of the rawer side of American roots music,” according to the musician, who’s been dubbed the “Bard of Beer Songs.”

Participating breweries this year include Arvada, Aspen, Barrels Bottles, Blue Moon, Cannonball Creek, Centennial, ColMalting, ColNative, Dam, Dostal Alley, Epic, GCB, Grand Lake, Grimm Bros, Kokopelli, Mountain Toad, Our Mutual Friend, Sand Lot, Tivoli, Tommyknocker, Twisted Pine, VeryNice, Voss, Wynkoop and Durango.

The music is free and open to the public but if you want to participate in the brew tastings, tickets can be purchased at TicketsWest online or at King Soopers and City Markets in advance for $30. Tickets will be on sale at the event, if available, for $40. VIP tickets, which allow for early admission, a private VIP tent hospitality zone, casino comps and appetizers, are $75 each.
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