You'll understand why I titled this posting "bad ass" if you make it to the final photo in this slideshow.
I promise you won't be disappointed.
And the fact that only 150 tickets were sold, making it far from the spatial clusterf_ck of Denver's annual GABF, where long lines and accidental leg-humps are the price one pays (in addition to the high-priced and hard-to-come-by tickets) to get to the good suds. (Though, admittedly, I still love that event, too.)
Just one example of why this micro-fest is special: Rockyard American Grill & Brewing Company generously opened one $40 bottle of the multi-brewery collaborative Buddha Nuvo for each hour of the festival, allowing a taste of a now-hard-to-come-by brew.
And pretty much every participant was pouring something you'd be spending a decent penny to procure inside a bomber at local liquor store — if you could even find it there. I in particular appreciated trying numerous beers that currently aren't available for sale in our liquor stores and taprooms.
A few are on the way soon, like Eddyline Brewing's Saison de Vélo, a brilliant rosemary-lavender saison brewed with three pounds of each herb per 10-barrel batch.
But others aren't yet distributed in the state, even, such as the super fun and funny line of Tulsa, Okla.-based beers from Prairie Artisan Ales.
You'll notice in the slideshow above that I devoted several frames to their awesome label art and silly doodles with which they decorated their tasting table — stylistically something like King of the Hill as directed by Wes Anderson.
Anyway, since most of what people do at these type festivals is drink (well, after getting all nerdy, talking shop with the brewers), and stand around discussing things such as Wes Anderson movies, let me get to a handful of other newsy tidbits worth mentioning, including introduction of some newer breweries to the state.
• Here's a nearly complete list of beers poured at the fest this year: Pour_List.pdf
• Keep an eye out for Black Bottle Brewery, a four-month old outfit out of Fort Collins.
• Salt Lake City-based Epic Brewing will be opening an expansion in Denver sometime around June, according to the friendly staff who were pouring at the Saison Festival.
• This will be old news to some, but it was new to me: Former Bristol Brewing Company head brewer John Schneider, who is behind Black Fox Brewing, says that company is on a hiatus of sorts while searching for capital to open its own location.
Meanwhile, Schneider has taken the head brewing position at Dry Dock Brewing Company's south location in Aurora. At the fest, he poured a lovely Sea Monster Saison, if you can find it available.
• One other newbie brewery, Twelve Degree Brewing from Louisville, which plans to open in late May, presented two collaboration beers made with co-exhibitor Shine Brewing Co. out of Boulder. One was a really interesting Saison dry hopped with clementines and jasmine.
In closing, I'll say that pretty much every beer festival I've attended over the years, certainly including the Craft Lager Festival and All Colorado Beer Festival, has had its charms and strengths as compared to the others.
Some go big-volume, others go outdoors or aim for a smaller selection of lauded breweries. Saison Fest clearly defines itself firstly by being exclusive to Saison and Farmhouse-style brews.
This is a land of experimentation and wildness, partially piloted by play with such yeasts as the popular Brettanomyces. It doesn't always equate to high-ABV beers, but often it does. And a complexity defines them that is missing from simple ales such as your basic blond or brown — no offense to them, as they all have their time and place in the beer-drinking world.
Saison Fest is what you should attend when you really are ready to geek-out with some smart beers made with creative inputs, and to drink less of more. (Well, I did, but of course you can always aim to get wasted and taxi home.)
Simply put, it's bad ass.