There's something special to be said for a room where the beer flows like beer; where the food is served in long lines that start at both sides of the station and never really end; and where the people, by day's end, are people you've stood next to for four hours and gotten kind of drunk with, making them — dare I whisper it? — friends.
And that "something special to be said" is "Eff, yeah" for the seventh annual frickin' Firkin Rendezvous, held this last Saturday.
Thankfully slightly smaller than last year's — where it was all you could stand of unasked-for intimacy in a back room filled with people at Bristol Brewing Co. — the bad-assery of awesomeness kicked off even before the event. Just check out the available brews:
Ska Brewing Co. brought the best-named Nefertiti's Fuggly Nibs, a lightly sweet dark; Trinity Brewing Co. offered its oak-aged Slap Your Mammy Double IPA; and local genius John Schneider did it again with Black Fox Brewing Co.'s wheaty, cherry-aged Wanna Be Manor. (See the full list here, courtesy of local-blog-you-should-be-reading Focus on the Beer.)
Cask brews run a little different than their normal counterparts, in that the IPAs don't hit as hard, due to natural fermentation, and the creamier selections become even more so. Thus Dry Dock Brewing Co.'s Seven Seas Double IPA — fermented with green chilies — tastes almost like an awesome liquid version a creamy, cheesy rellenos. In the meantime, to my palate, the dried-out sensation Pagosa Brewing Co's Powder Day IPA was going for never really landed.
But food helped even things out (not to mention kept me from proposing marriage to all kinds of heavenly suds — I'm looking at you, Le Terroir, a delicious SweetTart-like sour from New Belgium Brewing Co.). Grub from Front Range Barbeque, Trinity, McCabe's Tavern, Blue Sage Catering, Old Chicago, Great Harvest Bread and Cabot Cheese — whose reps apparently called up Bristol and offered to donate pounds of a delicious chipotle cheese out of the blue — all fought the good fight.
All told, more than 20 breweries participated in this back-room celebration, and a room full of people jumped at the $40 tickets that went to support the Colorado Brewers Guild. The commemorative glass remains one of the better ones you'll get at any beer festival in the state — actually made of, you know, glass — and the selection of small-barrel tastiness is unparalleled. To my mind, it even brought out the best in the Wynkoop Brewing Co. family of beers, which usually taste kind of flat and kind of warm and kind of bad: The Denver parent brought a clean and sudsy Hop to Conclusions Double IPA, and Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. brought out the King Mixer Barrel-Aged Strong Ale, a dark and fascinatingly complex brew.