Last party of the summer

Brewfest closes out summer, ushers in fall with cold beer

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The slogan of the annual Steamboat Mountain Brewfest could be, "We won't run out of beer."

Since the unthinkable happened three years ago when kegs ran dry, organizers have armored the event by increasing the number of brewers and the number of kegs each brewer brings.

It's a lesson learned. The residents of Steamboat Springs can drink a lot of beer.

"They finished 67 kegs in a snowstorm," Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill owner and brewmaster Charlie Noble said.

Of 25 breweries scheduled to attend, each brewer was asked to bring four kegs.

"That's way more than we need," Noble said. "No one should worry about it."

Instead, Brewfest attendees should worry about introducing themselves to some new breweries and reminding themselves of some old favorites.

This year features the return of the Heavenly Daze brewery. Heavenly Daze started in Steamboat, once located in Ski Time Square, but now operates out of Denver.

Snake River Brewery from Jackson, Wyo., and Big Horn Brewery from Cheyenne, Wyo., also will be serving their latest brews.

Steamboat's hometown brewery, Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill, will have two beers available.

"I always save the last keg of the cherry (ale) for Brewfest. This will be the last keg (of cherry) for the season until next June," Noble said. "I also bring Alpenglow to make sure locals have their favorite."

With 25 breweries on tap, there are three more than last year, Brewfest organizer Jolene Esswein said.

The numbers were a pleasant surprise. This year, the Steamboat Mountain Brewfest is scheduled on the same weekend as the popular Telluride Brews and Blues festival, and organizers were worried the scheduling could cause a drop in participation.

"What we learned is that we do more for our brewers than most festivals," Esswein said. "We give them two nights lodging, and we supply tents, tables and chairs.

"From what I've heard, the other festivals don't do diddley."

This is the 14th year for the Brewfest that started as a small event in Ski Time Square with no more than four or five participating breweries.

As the popularity of the event and the number of brewers grew, the Brewfest was cordoned off in its location near Torian Plum Plaza.

The Fall Foliage Festival, a family-friendly event, takes place at the same time Saturday at the bottom of the hill in Gondola Square.

Both events are organized by the Mountain Business Association.

"This weekend is the last big party in Steamboat until opening day of ski season," Noble said. "It's a nice end to summer, and it's always a gorgeous day for drinking."

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