Winter Park Beer Festival described as a fine brew
ClarityUpon first glance, the clarity was cause for concern. A sky roiling with dark gray clouds portended inclement weather, with a few ominous sprinklings of rain. However, as the event settled in the situation improved. The clouds broke up into fluffy white puffs, revealing that kind of deep blue one only finds in the mountains, perfectly accentuated by summer sunshine.%ABVOver 25 breweries presented their wares in booths scattered in front of the stage at Hideaway Park. Nearly all were craft breweries, and each brought a range of their products, from ales to IPAs to stouts and porters, for everyone to try. A few even offered chili beers, to heat things up.Flavors & IngredientsThanks to the summer season, wheat beers abounded, with variations on wheat beer styles, with hefeweizen, Belgian witbier, honey wheat and more. Crazy Mountain Brewery, from Vail Valley, offered their version of a light, crisp Belgian wit with hints of coriander and chamomile, and a pleasing emphasis from a spice called Grains of Paradise. From the icy regions of the north came the ever-popular Alaskan Brewery, bringing its Amber Ale and Coastal Code IPA. To prove they’re about more than just beer, the brewery donates 1% of profits from the IPA to fund ocean and coastline clean-up projects. That tastes pretty good.The Pacific Ocean represented with tasty brews from Hawaii’s Kona Brewery, and the international flavor of Japan’s Sapporo. While Sapporo isn’t a craft brewery, its representatives seemed interested in fostering the craft one-on-one connect with consumers. “It’s not just for sushi!” they declared.Food PairingFor those feeling a bit peckish, volunteers from the Grand Foundation, the festival’s beneficiary, sold pretzel necklaces. An ingenious design, the pretzel necklace consists of pretzels strung through twine, then hung about the neck for easy access. Yet another delicious taste with the extra benefit of doing good for the community.Notes & CommentsAs many variations on “The beer is good” as a thesaurus could give you. The favorite came from KSMT The Mountain radio station on-air personality Gibby: “I’m enjoying myself, and definitely will come back to Winter Park, whether there’s a beer festival or not.”Agreed. Cheers.
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