Festivus is for the rest of us, and it’s more than a Seinfeld holiday tradition. In Denver, it is a year-end celebration of the craft beer scene. The Denver (only) Beer Festivus put together by Two Parts brings together anyone and everyone that can attend and brews within the city limits for a raucous holiday party.
Everyone at the Festivus takes their holiday apparel seriously – it is not an understatement to say there is no greater collection of adult onesies and ugly sweaters at a single event in Denver during the holiday season. While the brews are still the main attraction, there is something special about being lit on your sweater and from your beer as you wander around the airplane hangar museum.
The Denver Festivus showcases the best creativity from the attendees of any festival we have attended this year but it also wraps up one hell of a year in the Denver beer scene.
Denver Craft Beer Explosion
The beer scene in Denver is showing no signs of slowing down. It feels like nearly every month a new brewery is opening or announced. Walking into the Festivus it was eye-opening to see all the breweries in one place.
This year more than 50 breweries and cideries attended. Unlike last year, the number of breweries has gotten so large that the silent disco had to be moved upstairs. That’s right — there are enough Denver-based beer slingers to fill up the entire Wings Over the Rockies Museum. Depending on how this next year goes – it is going to get more difficult to house all the breweries at this current venue.
There was a mix of appreciation for the original Denver breweries and the new kids on the block. The two breweries that consistently had the longest lines were Cerebral Brewing, which just recently celebrated its second anniversary and Great Divide Brewing Company which has been around for two decades. People were waiting in line at Cerebral hoping to snag a glass of the allusive Here Be Monsters – a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout and at Great Divide people waited for an old favorite – Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti.
It was also fun to see people lining up at breweries that were pouring before the doors have opened. For example, The Grateful Gnome — which has suffered a few setbacks on the road to opening day — was able to give people a taste of what is to come. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the table that housed its brews along with the beers from another newcomer, Woods Boss Brewing, was the biggest party table of the night.
Dark Beers Ruled The Night
There is no requirement for the type of beers being poured at Festivus – the only rule is to brew in Denver city limits, so the variety of beers was extensive. Feats of Strength brewed in by Call To Arms in collaboration with festival hosts, Two Parts, was a fruity Double IPA that popped but it was the exception to the dark beer rule of the night.
There were too many good dark beers (Stouts, Winter Warmers, etc.) to list them all – although we drank them all or at least made a valiant attempt to drink them all. There were a few that stood out to us starting with Onyx, from Bruz Beers made up of seven different malts, it was a chewy stout with hints of dark chocolate and coffee. Continuing on the coffee trail the Coffee Baltic Porter from Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project was luscious but not heavy and robust in its coffee flavor. It needs to be known that Crooked Stave produces more than just great sours.
The Extra Stout Extra Stout from Hogshead brewery was a great change of pace stout. The first sip gave you the traditional stout flavors but a hint of something more, toffee. Also – it was probably the only sessionable stout being poured, so good and you could have it twice. Wilderness from the Denver Beer Company was one of the Bourbon Barrel stouts being poured – it was decadent and boozy which is not something we come to expect from Denver Beer Company.
If we had to pick one beer for the night it would have to go to TRVE’s Total Funeral. As TRVE suggested they did put the fun in funeral. This imperial stout was bursting with maple, vanilla, cacao and coffee flavors. As if that wasn’t enough the entire batch was then fermented in a tank with parts of a whiskey barrel. TRVE straight killed it was this brew.
The number of breweries – the limit pushing beers being poured – the Denver (only) Beer Festivus is everything that is great about the Denver craft beer scene. It gets you excited about what we have and what’s coming – take a look around, there is sure to be a new Denver brewery waiting for your first visit.
All photography by Brittany Werges.