Westword Beer Calendar

Colorado's biggest little beer festival returns to Breckenridge for the second time on January 4 to 6, 2018, with some upgrades and improvements. Tickets for the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival go on sale today at 10 a.m. at bigbeersfestival.com — and they will sell out very, very quickly. Here's a quick rundown.

The main event is the commercial beer tasting, $75, on January 6 at Beaver Run Resort; breweries from all over Colorado and the nation showcase their biggest best beers here and often set trends for the upcoming year. In addition, there are three food-and-beer pairing events over the course of the weekend. One stars the beers of Adam Avery of Avery Brewing and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head; the second highlights Jeffrey Stuffings of Jester King and Cory King of Side Project; and the third will bring together rising stars Jeremy Tofte of Melvin Brewing and James Howat of Black Project Wild and Spontaneous Ales.

Beyond that, there are seminars and presentations galore for professional brewers, homebrewers and those who just want to learn more about beer and brewing. There will also be a large number of parties, side events and beer tappings in and around Breckenridge. (Bring water. Bring so much water.)

Festival co-founder and organizer Laura Lodge says the fest will keep its same basic structure, with some tweaks. "One change, the most highly requested change, was to create a central meeting place within Beaver Run Resort," she says about the fest's primary location. "So we are going to create a 'pop-up Falling Rock' in the central area by the pool, hot tubs, arcade.... There we will have some tastings Friday afternoon, music at night, our own bar selection, and lots of space to gather and visit."

There will also be a festival app this year, sponsored by DigitalPour, showing all of the beers at the commercial tasting, the location of the breweries, and real-time updates.

Big Beers was founded in Vail but moved to Breckenridge in 2016. Now in its eighteenth year, it is considered to be one of the best small beer festivals in the nation — not just because of the beers that are poured and its location at a ski resort, but also because brewery owners and celebrities show up in person to mix and mingle.