Vail Big Beer Fest 2012 Promises to be Beautiful

If you have not heard, the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival is coming up and it is one killer beer festival. Isaac and I attended last year. It is perhaps the most comprehensive, educational, and fun-filled festival I've ever been to. Not only do you get to taste lots of fantastic beer, but industry leaders from around the world give presentations and you can meet them in person. Last year, Isaac was a judge in the homebrew competition, we attended a small presentation where Sam Calagione talked about Dogfish Head, we went to a few different seminars the next day and finished it off with one of the most exciting four hours of beer tasting I've ever done. Here's is our recap from Day 01 and Day 02 last year. As you know, I've been critical of some festivals throughout the year, and have become quite reluctant to attend many, but let me tell you...based on my experience last year I will definitely not miss this one!

Big Beers takes place in Vail, Colorado, so it's a bit of a trek for us Front Rangers. If possible, I would recommend staying out there on Saturday night because you will likely drink too much to drive home in the snow. If you ski, then you can hit up the slopes on Sunday. Otherwise, bring a DD or plan to hang out in Vail for a few hours after the festival is over.

Let me direct your attention to the Big Beers website, but I'll also list all the events and seminars that you can attend with the purchase of a ticket. There are a series of dinners too, but those sold out long ago. For the seminars, I would recommend reserving seats, or showing up nice and early. The $50 ticket gets you a lot at this festival...access to the seminars (but does not guarantee a seat) and guarantees you entry into the commercial tasting of the festival. The commercial tasting is ridiculous, see my recap of Day 02 here. Okay, for $50 here's everything the festival is offering for 2012:

Image of last years Experimental Brewing Seminar
6:30pm - Dogfish Head Seminar with Sam CalagioneThis is Sam Calagione's second annual Dogfish Head Craft Brewery seminar. The topic will be The Marriage of Good Beer and Good Music! The inspiration for Dogfish Head recipes come from a myriad of different sources, music being one such arena. With supporting samples of musically inspired brews such as "Bitches Brew", created in honor of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew album, this seminar promises to be a real musical adventure. So join Sam Calagione for an upbeat experience. As he says, "We're going to rock out and drink beer together!"

10:30pm - Beer & Cigar Pairing Workshop
Our first Beer & Cigar Pairing Sensory Workshop! Join Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association, as he and our other special guests lead us through the world of beer and cigar pairing. Remember to bring your coat, since the actual smoking will take place on the Vail Cascade's picturesque pool deck.
10:00am - noon - Experimental Brewing Seminar
One of the many highlights of our Big Beers Festival Weekend. Title: “Brewing Outside of the Box: Brewers Gone Wild!” This year’s “Brewers Gone Wild” theme and speakers are yet to be announced. See the Brewing Seminars page for further information…last year this was perhaps our favorite portion of the whole festival.

12:30 – 1:30pm - Brewmaster's Seminar with Bell's Brewing
International Featured Brewmaster, John Mallett, Production Manager of Bell's Brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan, will be speaking on a topic of his choice for an educational seminar. See the Brewing Seminars page for further information.

12:30 - Pairing Palate Trips
Craft & Specialty Beer Everyday: Pairing Palate Trips. Join Steven Pauwels, Brewmaster of Boulevard Brewing Company and Julia Herz, Publisher of and the Brewers Association Craft Beer Program Director as they tour you through the everyday world of food interactions and craft beer. This is a small seminar, so seating will be limited.

1:30 – 2:30 pm - Brewmaster's Seminar with Breckenridge
Our Colorado Featured Brewmaster, J. Todd Usry, Brewmaster/Director of Brewing Operations for Breckenridge Brewery, will be speaking on a topic of his choice for an educational seminar. See the Brewing Seminars page for further information.

1:30 pm - Sensory Workshop: The Elements of Beer Flavor 
Daniel Bradford of All About Beer Magazine will be hosting a sensory workshop focusing on The Elements of Beer Flavor! See the Brewing Seminars page, and seating is limited for this event.

2:30 - 6:00 pm - COMMERCIAL TASTING

The Commercial Tasting portion of the Big Beers Festival begins at 2:30 pm and continues through until 6:00pm. This international tasting is open to the public and showcases over 200 different commercially produced specialty beers from around the world. Saturday’s Commercial Tasting event includes the 2011 Homebrew Competition Awards Presentation as well as…

3:30 pm - Beer and Food Pairing Taste-Off’s Beer & Food Pairing Taste-Off. Julia Herz of the Brewers Association will be moderating this innovative & wildly popular event. This Beer & Food Pairing Smackdown will feature a panel of Importers and American Craft Brewers and their brews. See the Brewing Seminars page for further information.

Big Beer Fest
Jan 6-7 / Vail, CO / $50


- - -
To stay up to date with Focus on the Beer you can receive email updates and join us on our Facebook page.

BeerEric Steen