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Event Preview | 2017 Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines

2016 Vail Big Beers Belgians and Barleywines Baere Brewing
Chris Day

January marks the return of one of our favorite Colorado beer events, the (formerly Vail) Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines festival. With activities ranging from brewing seminars and sensory panels to the drool-worthy commercial tasting session featuring an epic beer list from more than 150 breweries from around the world, this fest offers a unique experience attendees are unlikely to forget. Besides dropping Vail from the name, what changes will 2017 bring?

(More: Pour List for 2017 Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines)

First and foremost, the location has changed. After 16 successful years in Vail, venue complications and pricing concerns threatened the festival’s existence. Thankfully, the event’s promoters were able to secure a new location, the Beaver Run Resort and Convention Center in Breckenridge, Colorado. The new venue should offer even more room for attendees to enjoy the numerous sessions, not to mention a much shorter commute from Denver. This means more beer, more seminars, and even more side events!

Building a war room

The coveted commercial tasting session will feature over 400 rare beers from more than 150 breweries, including many from Colorado. As the name implies, it will also offer a spectacular selection of international beers seldom seen at fests stateside. The list of attending breweries includes:

4 Noses Brewing Co.
7 Hermits Brewing Co.
AC Golden Brewing Co.
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alpine Dog Brewing Co.
American Solera
Brasserie Omer VanderGhinste
Brouwerij Bosteels
Abdij Koningshoeven
Brasserie St. Feuillien
Prearis Brewery
BOM Brewery
NOVO Brazil
Aspen Brewing Co.
Avery Brewing Co.
Baere Brewing Co.
Bakers’ Brewery, The
Ballast Point Brewing Co.
Barrel of Monks Brewing
Barrels & Bottles Brewery
Bell’s Brewery
Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales
Blue Moon Brewing Co.
Blue Spruce Brewing Co.
Bonfire Brewing Co.
Bootstrap Brewing Co.
Boston Beer Co.
Boulder Beer Co.
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Breckenridge Brewery
Brewery Ommegang
Bristol Brewing Co.
Broken Compass Brewing Co.
Bruz Beers
White Pony
Cannonball Creek Brewing Company
Casey Brewing & Blending
Copper Kettle Brewing Co.
Coronado Brewing Co.
Crazy Mountain Brewing Co.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
Deep Ellum Brewing Co.
Denver Beer Company
Deschutes Brewery
Destihl Brewery
Dillon Dam Brewery
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Dry Dock Brewing Company
Durango Brewing Co.
Duvel USA
Brasserie d’Achouffe
Eddyline Brewery
Elevation Beer Co.
Elysian Brewing Co.
Epic Brewing Co.
FATE Brewing Co.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Flying Dog Brewery
Fort Collins Brewery
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co.
Brouwerij de Brabandere; Petrus
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck; Kasteel
Brouwerij Van Steenberge; Gulden Draak/Piraat
Golden City Brewery
Goose Island Beer Co.
Grand Teton Brewing Co.
Gravity Brewing Co.
Great Divide Brewing Co.
Green Flash Brewing Co.
Grimm Brothers Brewhouse
Hogshead Brewery
Horse & Dragon Brewing Co.
Jester King Brewery
Joseph James Brewing Co.
La Cumbre Brewing Co.
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Left Hand Brewing Co.
Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co.
Living the Dream Brewing Co.
Lone Tree Brewing Co.
Lost Abbey Brewing Co.
Lost Highway Brewing Co.
Loveland Aleworks
Mad Fritz Brewing Co.
Melvin Brewing
Mockery Brewing Co.
New Belgium Brewing Co.
New Holland Brewing Co.
Ninkasi Brewing Co.
Odd 13 Brewing Inc
Odell Brewing Co.
Oskar Blues Brewery
Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew
Pagosa Brewing & Grill
Paradox Beer Company
Perrin Brewing Co.
Ratio Beerworks
Redstone Meadery
Renegade Brewing Co.
River North Brewery
Sanitas Brewing Co.
Saucony Creek Brewing Co.
Seventh Son Brewing Co.
Shmaltz Brewing Co.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Ska Brewing Co.
Solemn Oath Brewery
Station 26 Brewing Co.
Steamworks Brewing Co.
Stone Brewing Co.
Strange Craft Beer Company
Surly Brewing Co.
Telluride Brewing Co.
Three Barrel Brewing Company
Tivoli Brewing Company
Tommyknocker Brewery
Trinity Brewing Co.
Tröegs Independent Brewing
Two Roads Brewing Co.
Upslope Brewing Co.
Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.
Verboten Brewing Co.
Very Nice Brewing Co.
Victory Brewing Co.
Weldwerks Brewing Co.
Westbound and Down Brewing Co.
Wicked Weed Brewing
Wiley Roots Brewing Co.
Wit’s End Brewing Co.
Wynkoop Brewing Co.
Zwei Brewing Co.

With so many big beers in play, it can be tough to decide where to start. There’s an official beer list here, and we contacted these breweries for a few more details to build our own pour list for you to reference. We’ll continue to update this list as submissions arrive.

Vail Big Beers
Photo By: Desiree Duzich, Spoiled Beer Brat Productions

While impressive, the commercial tasting event is just one of many experiences the festival has to offer. The festivities start Thursday and run through Saturday. More details may be found on the event website, but here’s an abbreviated schedule to aid planning:

Thursday, January 5th

7:30 pm – Calibration Dinner

Friday, January 6th

8:30 am – Cicerone Workshop

9:30 am – Belgians, Barleywines and Strong Ales Homebrew Competition

12 pm – Welcome Reception

1 pm – Belgians, Barleywines and Strong Ales Homebrew Competition (second session)

1:30 pm – Certified Cicerone Exam

4 pm – Small Plates & Craft Beer Pairing

6 pm – Beer and Food Experience with Chef Adam Dulye and Julia Herz

7:30 pm – Traditional Brewmasters’ Dinner

10 pm – Cigar Pairing Experience

Saturday, January 7th

9:30 am – Seminar – Brewing Outside of the Box: Brewers Gone Wild!

10 am – The Yoga of Brewing

12 pm – Seminar – Brewing Strong Beers of Belgian & German Origin

12 pm – Seminar – Discovering Fruit & Fruit Flavors in Brewing

12 pm – Seminar – Brewing With Exotic Fruit & Vegetables

12 pm – Seminar – Unearthing Ancient Styles

1:15 pm – Seminar – Ommegang & Urban Chestnut Collaborations

1:15 pm – Seminar – Brewery Terroir

1:15 pm – Seminar – Who Needs Milk When You Can Have Beer With Your Cookies

1:15 pm – Seminar – The Science of Contentious Big Beers: Our Love/Hate Relationship with Bitter and Sour

2:30 pm – Commercial Tasting

3:30 pm – Homebrew Competition Awards Presentation

If that wasn’t enough, there are also a plethora of related events outside the fest including many beer dinners and exclusive tappings. I suggest reviewing K.C. Cunilio’s excellent roundup of these extracurricular activities.

(More: Big Beers Belgians & Barleywines External Events Roundup)

Ticketing starts at $75 for Commercial Tasting and seminars, and many supplemental packages are available. Check the ticketing site for more details and purchase options. We look forward to seeing you at the fest!

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