If You Go
What: Collaboration Festival
When: 3-7 p.m. Saturday, March 22
Where: The Curtis Hotel, 1405 Curtis St., Denver
Tickets: $50 general admission, $80 early entry and other perks; 21 and older; tickets available at events.imbibedenver.com
Info: For a Collaboration Fest preview video with brewers from Denver Beer Co. and Upslope and hosted by Steve Kurowski of the Colorado Brewers Guild, visit: vimeo.com. Also, coloradocraftbeerweek.com
Collaboration is a hallmark of craft beer. Where many competitive industries are conspicuously guarded about their products and methods, there's a broadly established culture of mutual support among brewers, and a realization that one brewery's success benefits all the rest.
It's this kind of attitude — freely sharing ideas and ingredients, resources, lab space and general support — that helps the budding craft-beer industry grow. It's also a big reason craft brewers claimed 7.8 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market in 2013, up from 6.5 percent the previous year, according to the Brewers Association.
Colorado Craft Beer Week, now under the direction of the Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG), celebrates the state of craft beer in Colorado with beer dinners, tap takeovers, special tappings and special events throughout the state today through March 29.
The Collaboration Festival, set for Saturday in Denver and sponsored by the CBG and Imbibe Denver, is a new event that specifically highlights craft beer's collaborative culture. It's part of a new four-event series called Lovibond. Others, scheduled for later dates, include Sesh Fest, Brewery 5k and a Fresh Hop Festival.
Kicking off Colorado Craft Beer week, Collaboration Fest will showcase more than 35 Colorado beers made by at least one CBG member in collaboration with other breweries. The beer-drinking public can sample the collaborations when they're unveiled at the event and look for some in limited quantities around town at the participating breweries and in select bars and restaurants.
Highlights include collaborations such as a Rustic Saison brewed with pilsner malt, oats, wheat and rye from Black Fox and TRVE; Unite Pale Ale, brewed by female brewers from more than 30 breweries on International Women's Day; a WeiPi, or a WeissBierPils, brewed by Colorado Springs-based breweries Pikes Peak, Bristol and Phantom Canyon; a Summit County Collaboration with Pugs, Dillon Dam, Breckenridge Brewery, Backcountry and Broken Compass, and a dry-hopped red wheat wine ale from Breckenridge Brewery and SweetWater Brewery in Atlanta.
Participating Boulder County breweries include Avery Brewing Co. brewing with Russian River; Boulder Beer and Sanitas; a hopped-up wheat beer from Denver Beer Co. and Upslope; a collaboration among former Mountain Sun brewers who are now spread among at least seven Colorado breweries; Twisted Pine Brewery and Florida's Swamp Head Brewery, and Niwot's Bootstrap Brewing with Buena Vista's Eddyline Brewing.
Boulder's FATE Brewing Co. will be pouring four collaboration brews at the festival — a New World Trippel it made with San Diego's Mission Brewery; an Eisbock made with fellow east-end breweries BRU Handbuilt Ales and Wild Woods Brewery; a Black Trippel made with Denver's Lost Highway, and a Sticke Alt brewed with Bill Eye and Ashleigh Carter, formerly of Denver's Prost Brewing Co.
FATE head brewer Jeff Griffith is something of an expert when it comes to collaborating on beers. When arrival of his brewing equipment was delayed, FATE opened a little more than a year ago serving mostly collaboration beers.
"I've done close to 20 collaborations in a year, and we opened with about 12 of them," Griffith said. "I like working with other brewers and jelling with them on new ideas — seeing what they like and learning about their techniques for brewing — because everyone does things differently."
And sometimes that confluence of ideas results in a very interesting brew. When Griffith began collaborating with the owners of Denver's Lost Highway Brewing Co., who also own the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe, they knew they wanted to make a Belgian-style beer, but with a unique twist.
FATE had its house Belgian yeast strain, Lost Highway had the right kinds of hops, and they decided to include some dark specialty malts to make a fruity, smooth Black Trippel.
"Sometimes it come down to what ingredients we each have on hand," Griffith said. "Then we'll build off of that, throw some ideas around, and usually something sticks pretty quickly."
Additional Colorado Craft Beer Week events include:
• New Kids on the Block, celebrating Colorado breweries less than 2 years old, 8-11 p.m. Thursday at The Lobby in Denver. ($25; imbibedenver.com)
• Hops & Handrails, noon-6 p.m. March 29 at Left Hand Brewing Co. in Longmont. The event features a Craft Beer Fest, snowboard competition, Kid's Zone and local food and music. ($30 includes Beer Fest and Rail Jam, $10 Rail Jam only; lefthandbrewery.brownpapertickets.com)
Contact Tom Wilmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.