The greatest part about the Vail Big Beers Belgians and Barleywines festival is the educational seminars. Yes, there’s a beer festival, but the expansive nature of the seminar track at Big Beers is what keeps people coming back year after year. Every year, there’s something a little different, and it keeps things fresh.
We kicked the day off in the “Coolship” seminar, hearing from four brewers who are continually trying to change the perception of American brewing.
Jason Perkins from Allagash, Jeffrey Stuffings from Jesterking,
Jason Yester from Trinity and Chase Healey from Prairie all walked the seminar through their approach to spontaneous wild ales. We’re still piecing together our thoughts from that seminar, so look for a writeup soon.
Next it was on to learn about Casey Brewing and Blending‘s “The Cut” and hear from Troy Casey about his philosophies and his brewing practices. When asked about his lab equipment: “We have a hydrometer.” Troy spoke about how his time with AC Golden almost burned him out completely, but that the romantic side of brewing, feeling his way through the process really brought him back. It’s these type of stories that are going to help propel craft beer forward.
After that, we joined Rocky Mountain Barrel Company‘s seminar on barrel sourcing. With a star-studded panel featuring Andy Parker from Avery Brewing, Troy Casey, Eric Ponce from Goose Island, Patrick Rue from The Bruery, and Jonathan Buford of Arizona Wilderness Brewing, there were some great stories from their respective experiences with barrels.
From the mass quantity of “8-year old bourbon” barrels that Goose Island uses to Arizona Wilderness’ experience mixing chalk and garlic to mask the smell of a barrel in their brewpub, all sides of the barrel-aging spectrum were covered.
“There’s four tunas in every beer.” – Andy Parker, Avery Brewing Company joking about the beer Fortuna.
Then it was on to the Commercial Tasting. It was truly epic. If you didn’t make it up this year, we’ll make sure to alert you when tickets go on sale next summer. It’s always worth a trip into the mountains.