Sold-out celebration showcases micro brews

Copper Club volunteer Russell Ellis, right, hands Liz Warner a full glass of the brewery’s IPA while owner Dan Collins, second from right, helps another person during the fifth annual Western Colorado Craft Beer Celebration on Saturday at Edgewater Brewery. The event was the kickoff for Colorado Craft Beer Week and featured music by the Lincoln Pants Band and beers from 11 breweries.

Grain, hops, yeast, water — 11 local breweries mix and match ingredients to create dozens of unique craft brews, and they served keg after keg to hundreds of people at the Western Colorado Craft Beer Celebration on Saturday.

The sold-out festival offered the chance to taste craft beers from Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Palisade, Grand Junction, Fruita, Montrose and Telluride.

Jim Jeffryes, owner of Kannah Creek Brewing Co., said the last of the 700 tickets were sold on Saturday morning.

In its fifth year, the festival is a way to celebrate spring and small breweries at the same time.

“We need to support our Colorado Brewers Guild, because they represent us in the Statehouse for legislation,” Jeffryes said.

Jeffryes’ main concern is Colorado liquor laws, the most recent of which will allow grocery and convenience stores to start selling liquor in coming years.

“Grocery stores selling beer is going to put a bunch of small liquor stores out of business, and small liquor stores are typically the stores that buy Colorado craft beer, because we’re not big enough to sell to the large grocery store chains,” he said.

Still, Jeffryes said he’s optimistic about the industry.

“I think the industry is good. I think it’s slowing down a little bit, but it was on a pretty terrific tear for a few years, and we’re slowly reaching saturation.”

Jeffryes, who opened Kannah Creek in 2005, said he still enjoys brewing beer.

“I think I make really good beer, and it’s hard to make really good beer, so I’m proud of that,” he said.

Grand Junction resident Holly Mariz tried beer from Roaring Fork Brewery and Many Rivers Brewing Co. for the first time on Saturday, and those were her favorites of the day. Mariz has attended the festival since it began.

“I think it’s good to support these communities and to stay local, and this is one of the things we love about staying local — the atmosphere and the people,” Mariz said.

It was Grand Junction resident Shannon Bean’s first time at the Craft Beer Celebration.

“I like the micro brews and I like to see what else is out there,” she said. “I want to support our local brewers and to encourage them to keep doing it. It’s a good craft.”


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