Last weekend three breweries celebrated their Anniversary, making it exciting to see the beer industry in Colorado’s longevity continue. Boulder Beer, Colorado’s first microbrewery, celebrated their 34th birthday. On the opposite spectrum Gravity of Louisville celebrated one year brewing. Right in the middle, Ska celebrated their 18th Anniversary. Our friend, Ryan Hannigan, had the chance to make it out to Ska’s party in Durango and gave us a recap of the festivities.

Ska Brewing’s 18th Anniversary Party.

As beer festival season winds down, Ska Brewing always hosts their Anniversary Party and Brewers’ Invitational. Last year Reel Big Fish wowed everyone with a performance many figured couldn’t be topped. This year, as if to prove otherwise, Ska invited The English Beat all the way from Birmingham, England to help usher their brewery into adulthood. Having been to the past few anniversary parties, I decided to make the drive down, and without a doubt it was worth the trip!

Ska’s World Headquarters, a state of the art 24,000 square foot building they’ve called home since 2008, provides a wonderful venue for this event offering tons of outdoor space complete with hills of grass and great seating in their beer garden. Recently Ska Brewing opened a food truck of sorts, dubbed The Container Restaurant. The restaurant, essentially a shipping container permanently affixed to the outside of the brewery, offers food which is mostly sourced locally, and features Ska beer in many of the dishes.

I always applaud Ska Brewing’s employees for putting on an enjoyable and entertaining beer festival while still enjoying the party as well, and this year was no exception. They invited 27 breweries from all around Colorado and some neighboring states, and even with over a thousand people in attendance the beer lines remained short and easy to navigate. One thing I always enjoy about Ska’s Anniversary parties is the commemorative pint glass they give everyone. Yes, you read that right, a PINT glass. There are no dinky miniature plastic beer steins at this event. It’s a great souvenir to bring home, and adds great value to an already amazing party. Although, if you’ve ever attended the GABF member’s only session, you know and cringe at the dreaded sound of glass on concrete, which happens all too frequently. Rounds of applause broke out all night long when unlucky festivalgoers lost a hold of their glass.

Come for the beer, stay for the beer!

There were too many beers for me to list them all by name, but luckily for beer geeks, Ska provided a great handout with most of the beers available. I saw some people writing tasting notes in theirs, but mostly I found it helpful in showing friends what to try. Some of my personal favorites were Santa Fe Brewing’s Kriek: a limited run oak aged sour, Ska’s new wet hop beer: Hoperation Ivy, and Durango’s newest brewery, Brew Pub and Kitchen’s Double IPA named Donovan, brewed with yarrow and lemongrass. Among all the diverse and interesting beers, there was easily something for everyone’s taste buds.

What’s a Ska Party without music?

The bands were definitely a big highlight as people constantly danced and moved to the beat while the two opening acts, the California Celts and the 2Tone Lizard Kings, played their hearts out. The audience ebbed and flowed as glasses became empty and refills were needed, but there always was quite a crowd. In order to get a better view of the stage, I took a little secret path through their mill room and got a birds-eye view from the walkway atop their huge 240bbl fermenters. Finally as if all that wasn’t enough fun, just as night fell, the crowd drew in close around the stage, and The English Beat provided the perfect soundtrack as everyone reveled in the shadow of the brewery. Just as quickly as it began, it was all over, and we all wandered to the shuttle or our bikes and ended the night. Thank you Dave, Bill, Matt and everyone at Ska Brewing for an evening to remember. I can’t wait for next year!?

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A big thanks to Ryan for writing this post for us to give us a taste of what we missed.

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