The Summit of Bluegrass and Brews on Lake Dillon

This weekend was a hot one in Denver. Temperatures were expected to peak 100° F, so we were looking for any way to keep cool. Lucky for us, Saturday afternoon the 2012 Summit of Bluegrass and Brews was taking place in Dillon, Colorado.  Dillon is located in the Rocky Mountains where it’s considerably cooler, and this particular event was right along the beautiful shores of Lake Dillon. Obviously there were no reason for us to sweat in the city heat when we could head to the mountains for some great fun along the lake.

Lake Dillon is about a 2 hour drive for us, but the trip never seems like a chore. Driving into the picturesque Rocky Mountains on a beautiful summer day is a favorite way for us to get away. Of course it’s easy for me to say the drive was fun, since Jeff did all the driving. 

The Summit of Bluegrass and Brews

We arrived at Dillon’s Marina Park at 1 p.m., just as the event was starting. $30 at the door and we were in the park with sample glass in hand, ready to sample from craft beers from over 25 breweries. The participating breweries included plenty of local favorites, such as Dry Dock, Breckenridge Brewing, Strange Craft Beer, Oskar Blues and Renegade Brewing. It also included several breweries we hadn’t yet tried, like Aspen Brewing Company, Eddyline Brewing, Dillon Dam Brewery and Pug Ryan’s Brewery.

There were too many great beers to list off, but my favorite of the day was Zora Pale Ale from Strange Craft Beer. Zora is dry hopped with fresh rosemary, and I absolutely loved the flavor. It’s the beer equivalent of a nice focaccia bread. If you think that sounds weird you’re wrong. It was amazing. As for Jeff, he had too many favorites to pick just one. His favorite was whatever IPA was currently in his tasting glass. Having so many great ones to choose from made him a happy camper. Another great thing about the beer at the Summit of Bluegrass and Brews was that it was easy to come by. The lines were always short, as everyone spread out to enjoy the scenery.

Obviously with a name like the Summit of Bluegrass and Brews, there’s more to enjoy than beer. The music was awesome, too. Our favorite Marty Jones & The Great Unknowns, who entertained us during the beer tasting.  If you haven’t seen Marty Jones & The Great Unknowns perform, you’ve missed out. Marty Jones is an “idea man” and beer ambassador over at Wynkoop Brewing Company so he is pretty well known in the beer scene. We first saw his band perform at the Breckenridge Brewery Anniversary Party last year. They were the best!  Their music is upbeat and fun, with a good mix of country, rock, bluegrass and rockabilly. Their songs are often about drinking, and perfect to accompany a day or drinking craft beer. We only wish they preformed more, but Jones’ day job keeps him busy. If you get a chance to see them, don’t miss it.

After the Summit of Bluegrass and Blues beer fest ends, the Bluegrass music continues next door at Lake Dillon Amphitheater. We listened to a bit of both bands, Missed the Boat and the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience. However it was still awfully hot and we found it hard to sit still without melting. We ended up wandering the shores of Lake Dillon, and then enjoying a cold tropical drink at the Tiki Bar next to the marina.

Pug Ryan’s Brewery

Eventually we had enough fun in the sun. Plus, we were hungry and wanted to set out for some dinner. We decided to head over to Dillon’s own Pug Ryan’s Brewery.

It’s hard to describe anything about Pug Ryan’s Brewery without first saying that it was insufferably hot. There was not a cool breeze to be found in the restaurant, nor was their any air conditioning. We never asked if that was intentional, because it doesn’t usually get this hot, or if something was broken. Even when the sun eventually set, the warm air lingered. Clearly, some cold beers were needed, stat!

I had the Crispi Creme, a cream ale served on nitro. Jeff had the Over the Rail Pale which was aged in Chardonnay barrels. The beer was cold and really hit the spot. In fact, both beers and our meal was good. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep us hanging out in the heat any longer than necessary. We will need to revisit on a cooler day.

Overall, we had a great time during our day exploring Dillon. The lake was beautiful, the music was great, and the we had more than our fair share of great craft beer. We really hope to make the Summit of Bluegrass and Brews a regular annual event.


P.S. You may have noticed the smoky-looking sky in the photo at the beer fest above. There was a wildfire nearby, though we’re not sure which it was. Sadly, hot and dry weather has brought several fires to our state. Hopefully we cool down and get some rain soon.