Beer is 90 percent water, and Fort Collins has some of the best water in the country. And according to Colin Westcott, founder of the local Equinox Brewery, water is what makes Fort Collins a hub of brewing culture.
On June 25 and 26 Fort Collins is celebrating this brewing heritage with the 22nd annual Colorado Brewersâ€™ Festival. More than 60 breweries from across the state will showcase almost 60 beers to a crowd that can reach up to 30,000.
Last yearâ€™s festival had a significant drop in attendance due to a change in location and format. It was moved from Old Town Square to Civic Center Park and people were only allowed in for three-hour sessions.
This year, although the festival will remain in Civic Center Park, the format will go back to having people pay a fee at the door and being allowed to stay as long as they wish.
â€œI think it will be better this year,â€ said senior mechanical engineering major Matthew Jui.
He did not attend last yearâ€™s festival because of the $30 price of admission.
â€œWe listened to what people wanted,â€ said Peggy Lyle, the Downtown Business Association programming and event director. Â â€œWe are committed to making a great festivalFort Collins can be proud of.â€
On top of being able to sample beers using $1 tokens, the event will offer three stages with continuous entertainment and, for the first time, a beer tent where festival goers can learn about home brewing. Â
Last year, even though Equinox Brewery had only been open for a month, it went through all six of its kegs at the festival. Â This year it is bringing 12.
â€œA lot of people know us now,â€ Westcott said. â€œWe sent more beer (this year) because we can.â€
Although attendance was low last year, Westcott said the atmosphere gave him a chance to talk to customers.
For brewers like Westcott the festival isnâ€™t just about showing off great beer, itâ€™s about connecting with the community and fellow brewers.
â€œWe want people to know that we get along,â€ Westcott said. â€œBrewers are in it for the same reason â€“â€“ to make really good beer.â€
He describes his little brewery, located on Remington Street in Old Town, as a crossroads for brewers. Brewers from New Belgium or Odellâ€™s will all show up at Equinox to hang out.
The Brewersâ€™ Festival is a chance for Fort Collins breweries to show that they are 100 percent cooperative, Westcott said.
The twenty-year-old tradition also brings in good revenue for the city as one of the two biggest fundraisers for the Downtown Business Association, Lyle said. The other is Augustâ€™s Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest.
And although the festival has become a big fundraiser, it began simply as a way to celebrate brewing.
The festival was part of a combined effort between Odellâ€™s, Coopersmithâ€™s and the DBA, Lyle said.
â€œBrewing Culture is very professional and laidback,â€ Lyle said. â€œWhich exemplifies Colorado.â€
Tickets for The Colorado Brewersâ€™ Festival are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate. Hours for the festival are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 25 and 26.
News Editor Matt Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.