Efficient drinking

Go beyond the county at the Boulder Craft Beer Festival

Downtown Boulder Partnership

In the State of Craft Beer, there is no shortage of beer festivals. And for good reasons: not only do the featured breweries get to show off their wares — especially the flagship beers you may have overlooked in the past couple of years — to a large and captive audience, but drinkers can also find something new to pull them out of the rut of the familiar. Sure, it’s nice to head to a place where everyone knows your name, and you need only nod to make a pint of the usual appear, but variety is the spice of life and nowhere are you going to find as much variety as a beer fest.

Back for its fifth year, the Boulder Craft Beer Festival brings the variety with over 30 breweries to sample. You’ll find the usual Boulder County heavy-hitters: Avery, Boulder Beer, Left Hand, Oskar Blues and Upslope; local favorites: 4 Noses, Cellar West Artisan Ales, Crystal Springs, Fate, Front Range Brewing Company and The Post; and a few newbies: Beyond the Mountain, Endo Brewing and Redgarden Restaurant and Brewery. Naturally, you’ll need to hit up each and see what they’re pouring, but now is the time to try some Denver brews without having to head down the Boulder Turnpike or find parking in RiNo.

For those who love something wild and sour, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project can’t be beat. Whether it’s a saison inoculated with Brettanomyces or its Sour Rosé (an American wild ale aged in oak barrels with raspberries and blueberries), there is plenty to consider with each taste. You may need to go back for fourths, maybe even fifths.

Barely a stone’s throw from Crooked Stave, Ratio Beerworks also pours a mean saison, Dear You, which is fermented with French yeast, giving the beer an earthy flavor with a pleasant minerality.

Another RiNo neighbor, Great Divide Brewing Co. has been around for 24 years now, but age isn’t slowing it down when it comes to new trends. The two most recent India pale ales, Heyday IPA and Hazy IPA, embrace the New England-style with low bitterness and plenty of juicy fruit. Just the sort of thing one needs on a hot summer day in the park.

You’d have to go even deeper into Denver should you want to try the ales of Declaration Brewing, but it is just a table away at the fest. Its copper ale, Hardtrack, is remarkably accessible and hop-forward, a beer for the casual drinker and hopheads alike. Same goes for the American pale ale, Purloined Pearl, which balances hops and malt without tipping the scales too much in either direction.

And after your tour of Denver is complete, head back to those familiar breweries you call home. It’s a friendly competition between cities, one in which the drinker always wins.

Boulder Craft Beer Festival. Aug. 18, 1 p.m., North Boulder Park, 2848 Ninth Street, Boulder. Tickets start at $35. boulderdowntown.com/craft-beer-festival.