The inaugural Epic Beer Festival is (long) behind us, and after some thoughtful contemplation (AKA time to sober up) I think it’s safe to call it a success. At long last, here’s our recap of the Friday night and Saturday afternoon sessions that we attended:
Jeff and I volunteered for the first session of the Epic Beer Fest on Friday. Upon arriving, we were ID’d, signed our waivers, given our t-shirts and assigned a table to pour for during the evening. By luck of the draw we poured for Brouwerij Liefmans. Neither of us were very familiar with this brewery at first, but over the course of the night we realized we lucked out with this assignment. Liefmans isn’t especially well-known in the U.S., but for those in the know, they are well-loved. Liefmans is a Belgian brewery originally founded in 1679 and they produce old brown (oud bruin), lambic and other Belgian beers. We were pouring Liefmans Goudenband a Sour Brown beer, as well as Cuvee Brut, a Sour Red/Fruit beer. These are two amazing beers. AMAZING. Neither were jaw-clenchingly sour, but instead they offered just the right amount of tartness that even the people who said they “hated sours” really seemed to enjoy. The Cuvee Brut was the most popular, and my favorite. With the flavor of sweet and tart cherries, it was sparkly, light, and refreshing. The Goudenband was also delicious, and Jeff’s favorite. A little less sweet and slightly oaky, it had the complexity of a good wine. Some people said it tasted almost like balsamic, though I didn’t pick up on that myself. Both beers were so good, we ran out about an hour before the festival ended. Fortunately, Epic splits their stock over three sessions, so there would be plenty of Liefmans available for the Saturday crowds. Nicely done, Epic!
Saturday afternoon we returned to Epic, this time on the opposite side of the table. The selection of beers to sample was very good. There were a lot of varieties of beverages from breweries in the U.S. and abroad. Most the beers being poured are also distributed in Colorado, so you don’t find the rare tastes that you do at GABF. Still, there was still a great selection of beers to sample. Besides, not being as huge as GABF has its perks. The crowd was a manageable size and there weren’t any long lines. In the three-hour session we were able to visit all the tables, taste everything we wanted to try, and even hit up our favorites for seconds. It was just about the perfect size for the three-hour session so we didn’t leave feeling like we’d missed out on anything. In addition to beer Epic offered some food vendors, merchants selling all sorts of beer-related what-not’s, and a stage with a rotating lineup of fun bands. It was actually really nice to have some fun beer drinking music in the background, and made for some fun people watching as the beer encouraged more and more dancers by the end of the night!
I cannot even begin to tell you our favorite beers, since after a while they all sort of blur into one hazy memory. Most memorable to me was finally getting to try Billy’s Chili Beer. Wow! I’m not usually one for chili beers, but this one is really great, with a wonderful chili flavor and just the right amount of heat. Jeff had lots of great IPAs. I’m not sure that he had any new ones, but he wasn’t complaining since hoppy beers were well represented and, as we all know, hoppy makes Jeff happy.
Overall, the first Epic Beer Festival in Denver was a lot of fun, and a big success. Beer, bands and just a touch of taxidermy – good times! And as these squirrels from Black Bottle Brewing could attest, you’d be NUTS not to join Epic next time they’re in town!