AUG/SEP 2005 | REGIONAL | ROCKIES
Killer B’s : Beaver Creek Blues, Brews &
By Dan Rabin
It may be coincidence that three of life’s great pleasures
— beer, blues and barbecue — all begin with the
letter B. But when one of Colorado’s posh mountain resorts
offers up this alliteration of tastes and tunes, a wise choice
is to make a B-line to Beaver Creek for the annual Blues,
Brews & BBQ Festival.
The event was originally a single-day, mid-May brewfest,
but it has undergone a major makeover since its inception
a decade ago. The fest was moved to Memorial Day weekend,
and a second day was added. By including top-shelf blues,
slow-smoked ’cue and activities for kids, the BB&B
has been transformed into a more diverse, inclusive and family-friendly
affair, albeit a tad tamer than its earlier incarnation.
After a hiatus of several years, I made the three-hour drive
from Denver to the 2005 BB&B. Food booths, picnic tables
and a free-to-the-public music stage were set up amidst the
boutique shops and restaurants of Beaver Creek Plaza, in and
around what serves in winter as an ice skating rink. Nearby,
kids splashed in a fountain, climbed a rock wall and bounced
on a bungee trampoline.
The beer tasting, featuring Colorado-brewed beers exclusively,
took place just off the plaza in the cushy confines of the
five-star Park Hyatt Resort & Spa. The Hyatt’s long
list of honors includes Best Hotel in North America for Skiers
(Condé Nast readers) and Colorado’s Best Spa
(The Denver Post).
Throughout much of the year, the haute hotel caters to the
well-heeled wine-and-cheese crowd. But during the BB&B,
affordable beer-tasting/lodging packages entice brew lovers
to the stylish Rocky Mountain retreat for a few days of first-class
indulgence. After all, beer folk need pampering too sometimes.
With top-shelf blues,
slow-smoked ’cue and activities for kids, the
BB&B is a diverse, family-friendly affair.
“We came up yesterday,” said Denver-area resident
Caroline Carlson as bluesman Sean Costello warmed up the plaza
crowd on a pristine Saturday afternoon. “I got my toenails
painted,” she boasted, wiggling a set of crimson-tipped
digits on display in a pair of sandals.
Caroline was accompanied by her husband, John, and their
three-year-old son, Jack, who was working intently on a plate
of beef burnt ends. The food was the creation of Fiorella’s
Jack Stack Barbecue, one of several Kansas City–based
restaurants serving up fine smoked meats and other edibles
alongside local eateries.
“At least it didn’t snow this year,” John
observed, recalling last year’s weather-challenged festival.
The executive director of the Colorado Brewers Guild, John
had just returned from a reconnaissance mission to the Hyatt’s
beer hall and gave thumbs-up reviews of several beers he’d
I took a cue from little Jack, devoured a plate of the fork-tender
beef, and set off to taste some brews.
Maybe it was the thin mountain air, but the vibe inside the
Hyatt seemed especially high-charged for early afternoon.
As the day evolved, a great party ensued.
I was first steered to a superlative weissbier from Castle
Rock’s Jarre Creek Ranch. Its big banana and clove character
was a perfect foil for the lingering flavors of the smoky
In a nearby booth, Denver’s Flying Dog Brewery was
dispensing a notable high-impact offering. The limited-edition
Gonzo Imperial Porter was brewed in honor of the late author
and Colorado resident Hunter S. Thompson. According to the
brewery’s Web site, the heady 9.5% ale “will bite
you in the ass if you don't show it the proper respect.”
Hunter S. would surely have approved.
The outgoing folks from Summit County’s Dillon Dam
Brewery continually posed the question, “Who needs a
Dam beer?” In front of the Oskar Blues booth, individuals
were performing cartwheels, somersaults, backflips and various
other contortions to take advantage of a “brewery schwag-for-tricks”
offer from the popular Lyons, Colo., brewpub.
Though time was in short supply, I made occasional forays
back to the plaza for plates of ribs and brisket and to catch
parts of the high-energy sets of blues rocker Tommy Castro
and soul singer Bettye LaVette.
By early evening, day one of the festival had ended, at least
officially. After dark, a group of revelers kept the party
alive with an impromptu gathering at the Hyatt’s outdoor
My only regret was that I had to make a Sunday morning departure
and couldn’t attend the festival’s second day.
But when next spring arrives and I’m in need of a little
pampering, I’ll be back for another BB&B. Be-lieve
Dan Rabin writes about travel, beer and other
adventures from his home in Boulder, Colo.