Photo by Janette Wygant.

With so many beer festivals popping up every year, it’s becoming difficult to decide which ones to visit. The number of festivals is becoming so large, even breweries are having to pick and choose which festivals to support and attend. More and more festivals are beginning to pay breweries for the beer they pour, understanding that constant donation requests are becoming increasingly demanding. I think the growing number of festivals causes disappointing tap lineups at festivals. Breweries are, more often than not, having to bring their flagship beers and leaving the smaller batch releases for their tap rooms. This can be good for smaller and newer breweries for getting their name out there, so we understand that. For beer geeks, it is refreshing to discover a long list of newly released, barrel aged, and seasonal beers. Visiting a brewery’s tap room isn’t always feasible, so finding a festival they’re bringing these beers to is the next best thing. Rendezvous at the Rock, which took place on August 24th, was a fantastic festival for this very reason.

Rendezvous at the Rock kicked off its inaugural year pairing up with the Colorado Brewers Guild. This festival hosted by Rockyard Brewing was a hit, and featured several fantastic, newly released beers. The Colorado Brewers Guild is a great non-profit organization that really makes a difference in the craft beer community in Colorado. Supporting them and finding several exciting beers is always a treat.

Photo by Janette Wygant.

Hall Brewing Co of Parker gave tastes of an unreleased Juicy Peach Blonde Ale and Harvest Farmhouse Ale. I really enjoyed the blonde, giving a hint of the peach without an overwhelming fruity sweetness. Unfortunately this brewery is not yet in Colorado Springs, but they definitely have a great lineup of farmhouse beers worth picking up the next time you are in the Denver region. Both of these beers are now available in bombers throughout Denver liquor stores. Hall’s down-to-earth roots and passionate brewer are lending to this brewery’s popularity explosion.

Phantom Canyon was pouring a sour raspberry ale, Razz Wilder. They gave this beer its lacto acidity through a sour mash. It was nowhere near as tart as other beers I’ve had recently that used a similar process, but I still really enjoyed this subtle beer.

Paradox Beer Co featured their new Pepitas Grande, a pumpkin beer made with roasted pumpkin seeds, chimayo red chile, and cocoa. It was refreshing to taste this red wine barrel aged seasonal and it was a welcome change to the super spiced up pumpkin beers we’re starting to see. This had the comforting spirit of a warmly spiced fall seasonal. Paradox was also pouring tastes of their sour skully series and barley wine. Pepitas Grande hit liquor store shelves in Colorado Springs last Friday along with two other newly released beers, Self Esteem oak barrel aged amber and Elderberry Sour Skully #4 aged for six months in cabernet barrels.

The highlight of the festival, for me, were two breweries that poured tequila barrel aged beers. Several breweries received Sauza barrels a few months back and I have been anticipating the release of their beers ever since.

Black Bottle showcased their Hipster IPA – renamed Mexican Hipster, that took on more flavor from the agave spice characters than the caramel aspects of the liquor than I was expecting. This really brightened up the IPA and highlighted the hops as opposed to IPAs aged in other barrels.

Photo by Janette Wygant.

Copper Kettle was pouring tastes of their Mexican Chocolate Stout aged in tequila barrels. Although the chiles and heat from the tequila paired nicely, the roasty malt character I love that shines in the version that hasn’t been barrel aged was lost.

There were several other beers I really enjoyed, including a few wet hop pale ales, Crooked Stave’s latest hop savant featuring galaxy hops, and the news that Pug Ryans’s cans will soon be making it to Colorado Springs. After the live music that included local favorite, Grass It Up, a free hot dog or hamburger with entry to the festival, a drive that isn’t too far for, and all of the fantastic beers, we think a big Hats Off is in order to everyone at Rockyard and the Colorado Brewer’s Guild for putting on a great festival. I’m looking forward to attending the event next year!

Janette Wygant.
Photos used with permission from Rockyard Brewing. All photos by Janette Wygant.

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