A sunny, clear blue sky was the perfect setting for this year's Steamboat Mountain Brewfest, unlike the past few years, when clouds, rain and a lack of beer kept the festival from reaching its potential.
The 12th annual installment began with people entering the festival area at Mount Werner with beer mugs held high and smiling faces. As the day progressed, the glasses were often held higher with lots of random whooping cheers.
By the time the second band came on stage, those faces were more punctuated by red eyes and confused looks than smiles, even though it was clear everyone was having a great time.
Kirk Nunemaker, of Brecken-ridge Brewery, made sure to bring plenty of beer this year with two kegs and several cases of the brewery's "Autumn Ale" and the popular "Avalanche Amber Ale." But, Nunemaker only thought he had brought enough beer. As the line lengthened, he said his ale stock would undoubtedly run out before it was all over.
Options abound though. Twenty-four breweries from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming brewed brews for Brewfest.
Self-proclaimed beer enthusiast Randy Caswell and his wife, Diane, drove to Steamboat from Denver for the festival. Randy Caswell said he was having a great time but that his wife wasn't as enthused about the event as he was. But, he said, he was trying to teach her about the beauty of beer.
Shane Campbell and Krissy Dana didn't have to drive as far as the Caswells. As Steamboat residents, the two had been looking forward to the festival for weeks. Campbell said that he had to go to work in a couple of hours, but he could probably sample about eight beers and be OK.
"As long as I can still function, I'll be alright," Campbell said about his bartending job.
Another Steamboat resident, Paulie Anderson, said he was glad to be off work for the day.
"I'm so glad I'm not working," Anderson said. "This is the single greatest day of my life."
Djate, a reggae singer/guitarist from the small Caribbean island Dominica, said he was having a great time, despite the small number of people dancing for his performance.
"It's too early," Djate said at 2 p.m. "These people are just now getting up. They have to have a few beers first."
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