Considering its success, the inaugural Erie Brewfest could serve as a prime example of Colorado's thirst for craft beer.

The event welcomed 16 breweries and hundreds of people to Coal Creek Park in old town Erie Saturday afternoon.

Despite its newness in the world of Boulder County craft brewing events, by 2 p.m. an estimated 600 people had stopped by the park, leaving only 100 commemorative glasses to be handed out to those who might arrive in the second half of the four-hour festival.

"I just think it's fantastic," said John Juquat, who helped the Erie Chamber of Commerce organize the event and whose Erie-based PureRisk Solutions insurance agency served as the its title sponsor.

Juquat is also the co-founder of The Old Mine Brewing Co., a hard-cider and beer pub set to open in Historic Downtown Erie later this year, combining with a pair of other new breweries that will soon add to the town's beer culture.

Erie residents Jeff and Julie Ross stopped by the brewfest around 1:30 p.m. They started their sampling at the tent for Boulder's Upslope Brewing Co., located in the northeast corner of the park, before making their way, counterclockwise through several other tents.

"It's an awesome opportunity to try a variety of craft beer in a fun environment," Julie Ross said, adding she and her husband are very excited about the breweries coming to their town in the near future.

The couple have lived in Erie for eight years and said they were thrilled to see an event like the brewfest receive such a warm welcome.

"This type of event builds a lot of exposure for Erie and a lot of the growth here," Jeff Ross said. "To be able to stay here and get some good craft beer is great."

The event welcomed widely distributed brewers such as Boulder Beer and Odell Brewing Co., and some smaller companies such as City Star Brewing, which focuses on distributing small-batch ales at its taproom in downtown Berthoud.

City Star beer ambassador J.D. Hegan said the most popular of the three varieties he distributed Saturday was the Bandit Brown Ale, a gold-medal winning brew at this year's U.S. Open Beer Championship.

"I'll tell you what, the turnout is great, beautiful weather, well organized and the people have been great," Hegan said of the Erie Brewfest. "I'm having a good time."

Sandy Hutzley, a board member with the Erie Chamber, said she was thrilled by the turnout and was already looking forward to next year. She was especially excited by the fact that an estimated 80 percent of pre-sale tickets purchased for the event were bought by people who live outside Erie.

"This is a great opportunity for the Town of Erie to showcase what a great community we really are," she said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or