11th Firkin Rendezvous Review

by

Hundreds of craft beer fans descended on the Ivywild School in Colorado Springs to take part in the 11th annual Firkin Rendezvous at Bristol Brewing Company on Feb. 21. We were there to take part and provide our 11th Firkin Rendezvous Review.

The event, which began in 2005 to benefit the Colorado Brewers Guild at the old Bristol Brewing location across the street from the current building, featured seven brewers. This year the number counted 36 brewers pouring experimental, one-off beers in the small casks.

11th Firkin Rendezvous Review

Brewers seem to like the unique atmosphere of the event. Bristol Brewing Company head brewer Chris Hastings said the Firkin Rendezvous is a chance to see what unique beers other brewers have developed for the weekend. He also commented on the fact that the firkins offered at the festival are specifically made for the event.

“These are all one-off casks,” said Hastings, noting that fermentation takes place in the same casks that brewers used to pour their beers. “You taste it here and you will never taste it again the rest of your life.”

Brews at the event included an old ale aged with tart cherry and rose hips from Pikes Peak Brewing Company in Monument; a white Russian stout called the Big LeBEERski from Barrels & Bottles Brewery in Golden; a Winter Warlock barrel aged with vanilla bean from Bristol; and a Coffee Red IPA from Station 26 Brewing Co. in Denver.

Zack Christofferson, owner of Chain Reaction Brewing Company in Denver, brought an orange cream ale cask-conditioned with oranges, vanilla and cacao nibs that he said
“is kind of like that orange popsicle you bought from that shady dude in the truck.”

“The people that are here are here for the beer. They’re here to geek out on it,” said Christofferson. “It’s such a cool festival, such an awesome day.”

Taylor Carter, a third-time attendee from Colorado Springs, said he’s a homebrewer and IPA enthusiast who is trying to get into new styles of brewing. He comes to taste the creativity in the firkins.

“All the different beers are unique. I like the variety and the experimentation,” said Carter. “It’s great to have this caliber of brewers all in one place.”

Firkin Rendezvous mezzanine picBrewers came from around the state of Colorado for the Firkin Rendezvous, which has become part of a weekend stay, as brewers meet the night before for the Rocky Mountain Microbrewing Symposium held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The event is one of several meetings hosted by the Colorado Brewers Guild for members.

Laura Long, lobbyist for the Colorado Brewers Guild, looks at the fundraising Firkin Rendezvous as an event to highlight the state of craft beer in Colorado.

“Brewers have a chance to show off their creativity and their sense of style,” said Long, whose organization should have a big year in 2015 with several bills of importance in front of the Colorado legislature.

While the event featured brewers’ unique one-time brews, it also provided a chance for affiliated businesses to let attendees become familiar with what they have to offer. Greg Howard, owner of McCabe’s Tavern in downtown Colorado Springs, has been making a lamb stew with Bristol’s Laughing Lab for the past eight years. He sees the Firkin Rendezvous as an opportunity for people to see more options rather than competition with his establishment.

“This is a good time for me to meet some of these real small brewers who might not have a sales guy out in the field. We’ll do these with them and have them come into our tavern with a keg (with special offers and giveaways). It gives them exposure,” said Howard, whose tavern hosts “Support Your Local Economy” night focused on discounts for Colorado offerings. “I’m not telling them not to send people to their brewery. I want them to do that. It also gives people a reason to come to our place and maybe make it a regular stop.”

What the 11th Annual Firkin Rendezvous boiled down to is a chance to enjoy camaraderie and have some fun.

“It’s a celebration of craft beer,” said Matt Ward, Bristol’s beer marketer. “It’s like alchemy. You can’t do anything wrong brewing . . . unless it doesn’t taste good.”