By John G. Miller, DENVER DAILY NEWS
The Denver Beer Fest kicks off its 10-day-long celebration of all things beer with two long-running festivals and a variety of beer-related events throughout the Denver Metro area and beyond.
Mayor John Hickenlooper Thursday raised a toast to officially open the festivities.
“One of the best things about being mayor is you get to make proclamations,” said Hickenlooper to the assembly at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, of which he was once a partner. “I hereby proclaim Sept. 18-27 as Denver Beer Fest Week.”
The Denver Beer Fest is the brainchild of Rich Grant, Visit Denver’s communications director.
“Anyone with $10 can be a beer connoisseur,” Grant said.
“There are 150 new beer-related events,” Grant continued. “There are fine dining beer-paired dinners available at restaurants throughout Denver. Beer has become a big part of the culinary scene. There are beer tastings, beer tappings, ‘meet the brewers’ nights. One company will take you fly fishing, and then take you to have a beer afterwards.”
“Any city would love to have an event like this,’ said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver, the convention and visitor’s bureau for Denver. “All of the downtown hotels are filled up. It’s a great opportunity to showcase what’s happening in the city.”
Here are some of the more noteworthy beer-related events upcoming:
The first is the 40th annual Oktoberfest Denver, being held on September 18-20 and 25-27 on Larimer Street between 20th and 22nd streets. Established in 1969 at Larimer Square by homesick German immigrant Hertha Thomas-Zagari and her husband, Fred Thomas, the event now attracts more than 250,000 to revel in beer, bratwurst and live music.
Besides the thousands of beers and brats ready to be dispensed, Oktoberfest Denver will also feature the annual Long Dog Derby wiener dog race; a Mr. Oktoberfest contest; and a 5k and 10k race dubbed “Das Hustlehoff” in deference to Germany’s favorite ’80s television star David Hasselhoff.
This may be the final year of Oktoberfest Denver, as its organizer, Larimer Associates, has decided to end its production of the event and is attempting to sell it.
“We are a real estate company,” said spokeswoman Margaret Ebeling. “We felt we needed to focus on that. It was a business decision. “There’s a lot of people who feel very passionately about the festival, and we thought it would be best to be as transparent as possible.”
Another big beer-related event comes at the end of next week — The Great American Beer Festival, which is in its 27th year and has become a Denver staple. More than 450 breweries from all over the country will be represented at the Colorado Convention Center Sept. 24-26, with 1,900 beers on tap in what is recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest display of beers on tap in the world.
“It’s an opportunity to convene the brewer’s community and make new friends and share beers,” said Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewer’s Association, a festival sponsor. “And it’s a great way to get Denver’s name out there for national and international recognition.”
The event is a competition to determine the best beers produced by U.S. breweries. The event is sold out for the third year in a row with 31,000 tickets sold. More than 100 of the breweries come from Colorado.
“We already are the Napa Valley of beer,” said Hickenlooper. “It’s the universal meeting place of so many people.”
Richard Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver, the convention and visitor’s bureau for Denver, agreed that Denver is a beer Mecca.
“I think to be known as a great craft-beer city adds to our standing as a national and international city,” said “We are known for our outdoors activities, our scenic beauty, our fine restaurants and for the DNC. This is one more cog that people will think of when they think of Denver.”
Among the many events on tap this week:
• Shelby’s Bar and Grill, located at 519 18th St., plans their 10th annual “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” celebration tonight that includes corned beef and cabbage, a team of bagpipers, $2 green Budweiser and $1 green Jell-O shots. Call 303-295-9597 for more information.
• Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret will have a variety of beers from Avery’s Brewery, brats, and a burlesque and comedy revue Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $25 a person. Call 303-293-0075 for more information.
• Katie Mullen’s Irish Restaurant and Pub is celebrating the 250th anniversary of Arthur Guinness’ birthday. Enjoy authentic Celtic music and $2.50 Guinness 250 Special Brews. This event runs from Sept. 24-27. Call 303-573-0336 for more information.
• Denver Microbrew Tour is a two-hour guided tour of LoDo’s brewpubs, microbreweries and tap houses. There will be plenty of samples offered, of course. Cost is $20 a person, and the event runs Sept. 25-26. Call 303-249-6838 for more information.
• Brown Palace Hotel will serve “Prohibition style beer” in a teapot, the way the hotel used to disguise beer during the Prohibition era. That event runs today through Set. 27. For more information, call 303-297-3111.
For a full listing of events, times and dates, visit www.denverbeerfest.com.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters