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Hot Summer Brew Jams

Drink, dance, repeat. That’s what it’s all about at Colorado’s growing number of craft beer festivals. Micro-suds operations continue to multiply, and these fests offer the opportunity to sample a bunch of different beers in one shot. Soundtracked by some of the best in roots music—national and local—it all certainly adds up to a perfect summer afternoon.

Breckenridge Brewery Hootenanny

July 18, Littleton

You can’t get more Rocky Mountain High than this: Two Colorado institutions—Breckenridge Brewery and Leftover Salmon—will come together to celebrate Breck’s 25th anniversary, as well as the opening of a new 12-acre brewery in Littleton. Salmon, which recently added Little Feat’s Bill Payne as a permanent member, will be jamming, along with soulful New Orleans guitar ace Anders Osborne, innovative tunesmith Zach Deputy and Texas-based string outfit MilkDrive. One ticket price includes the tunes, grub from a pig roast and plenty of beer, including a new limited collaboration release between Breckenridge and Salmon. The new brewing outpost is right on the South Platte River Mary Carter Greenway Bike Path—pedaling to the event is encouraged.

Kyle’s Brew Fest

July 23, Denver

Before his band takes the stage for a big three-night run at Red Rocks, the String Cheese Incident’s Kyle Hollingsworth will host this pre-party at the Big Wonderful at Sustainability Park. The keyboardist and avid home brewer will play a show with his solo band and unveil this year’s Hoopla Pale—his seasonal collaboration with Boulder Beer. The event will also feature special musical guests and tastings from more than 30 craft breweries.

Summer Brewfest

July 24–25, Denver

Too many choices. That’s what craft beer lovers get at this two-day fest at Mile High Station. Approximately 50 breweries—from local upstarts to national favorites—per day will be pouring their best, and for one price, you can enjoy unlimited tastings for three hours. While you imbibe, dig the sounds of rising bluegrass outfit Rapidgrass Quintet (Friday) and psych-blues crew Dragondeer (Saturday). Bonus: The bucks you spend on beer at this fest support local tunes, as proceeds benefit Swallow Hill Music, a nonprofit music school that offers a wide range of classes and concerts around Denver. Double bonus: Brewfest will return with a winter edition in January.

Bluegrass and Beer Festival

August 1–2,  Keystone

Some mighty fine picking and drinking will be going down at Keystone in August. Bridging the musical gap between Appalachia and the Rockies, the 19th running of this annual fest will feature traditionally minded acts like Steep Canyon Rangers and Blue Highway alongside more progressive outfits Cornmeal and Horseshoes & Handgrenades. In total 13 acts will be showing off fleet fingers on three stages in Keystone village, while the crowd sips the goods from more 30 craft breweries. The festival also offers workshops for aspiring bluegrass players, including one dedicated to vocals and harmonies with members of the Rangers and a songwriting session with Claire Lynch.

Winter Park Beer Festival

August 8, Winter Park

Unlimited sampling from noon to 5 p.m. should make for a hazy afternoon at Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park. Some of Colorado’s best will be included on the roster of 30-plus breweries at this fest, while at least three bands will keep the crowd moving. Newgrass slingers Trout Steak Revival are already slated for the bill with others still to be announced. Tickets for this one typically sell out, so grab them in advance.

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

September 18–20, Telluride

It will be tough to find a better way to end the summer than this three-day bash featuring a huge slate of killer tunes and fermented goodness from more than 50 top-notch breweries. Town Park will be rocking with a rootsy blend of big headliners, including ZZ Top, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Gregg Allman, Taj Mahal and John Hiatt. The undercard is solid as well, featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama, Blackberry Smoke, The Revivalists, and Colorado’s own Nathaniel Rateliff, among many others. On the beer side, Saturday’s Grand Tasting will feature 56 breweries pouring 170 different beers. Be sure to sip some water too. At 8,750 feet, all those high-gravity micros will do some damage. 

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