Jun 282011
Authors: Erin Udell

Fort Collins may have seen many changes in the past two decades but when it comes to the Colorado Brewers’ Festival, event coordinators have tried to keep the time honored tradition focused on the craft of brewing — a focus that proved useful in raising attendance by 4,000 people compared to last year’s disappointing turn out.

“This time I really saw people enjoying the art of brewing, not just thinking of it as beer,” said Peggy Lyle, an event director who has been helping with the festival for the past 12 years.

“And more people were talking with and getting to know local brewers, which is something we want to keep seeing in the future,” she said.  

Thirty-two breweries ended up at Civic Center Park for the event, offering samples of their prized brews in exchange for $1 tokens.

More than 10,000 festival goers flocked to the numerous sampling stations, from the highly popular Odell Brewing Co. tent to Pateros Creek, a small two-week-old brewing company run by Steve Jones and his father, both from Fort Collins.

“We’re all about balanced session-style ales,” Jones said about the two brews offered at his tent: Old Town Ale and Cache la Porter. “We wanted something that’s light and easy to drink when you’re sitting around with your friends.”

Jones started Pateros Creek Brewing Co., which is located at 242 North College Ave., after years of home brewing.

“My wife bought me a brewing kit after our wedding in 2004 and I kind of got crazy with it,” Jones said. “I had so much beer at my house — more than 12 kegs at a time. I had to invite friends over to drink it.”

As a Fort Collins native and new businessman, Jones knew the Colorado Brewers’ Festival was the best place to create a buzz for Pateros Creek.

“This is one of the best places to be to get your beer out to people who want to drink it,” Jones said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great festival.”

Besides drinking beer, guests also got to experience it with the first ever “Experience Beer” tent, which showed brewing history, techniques and food pairings.

Tents of local vendors also lined the streets, offering people food and drinks before they headed to one of the three stages of local bands playing live music.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” said Ross Cordova, a junior wildlife biology major who attended the festival for the first time on Saturday afternoon.

“People are just looking for a good time,” Cordova said. “I’ll definitely be back next year.”

And that’s just what Lyle and other coordinators were hoping for.

After changing the festivals format last year by offering free samples for only a short amount of time, Lyle said reverting back to the old tradition helped raise attendance from 6,000 to more than 10,000 throughout the course of the weekend.

“Going back to the roots made it successful,” Lyle said. “It was a big success this year and I think we’ll maintain a lot of those elements in the future for sure.”

News Editor Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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