RMFR was on site at Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock, Colorado, on Friday, September 8, for the first Castle Rock Brew Fest Under the Stars put on by Rockyard Brewing Company, Castle Rock Beer Company and 105 West Brewing Company. The venue is expansive and serves as an inviting space for a multitude of  20 plus breweries and a handful of food vendors. Tents wind up the sidewalks which surround the Millhouse and picturesque pond and continue all the way up around the Amphitheater. A solid variety of small plates gives festival goers a good base to fully enjoy the generous eight ounce sample pours.

Upon entrance guests receive a bottle cap to cast a vote for their favorite “Deviation Brew” a special one off beer made specifically for the fest.  The host breweries set the bar with a diverse lineup and 105 West brings home the win with their Imperial Chocolate Coffee Booze Cake Surprise. Rockyard presents a unique array to include the stone fruit forward Plum Creek Sour, aged in Hungarian oak barrels and the Rockness Monster, an ale aged in Laphroaig Islay Scotch whiskey barrels with petey characteristics that finds smooth edges with notes of toffee. Castle Rock Beer Co. highlights their British style with a Vanilla Peach Pale Ale, an English ale brewed with Mexican vanilla and the popular seasonal fruit.

The food measures up to the level of craft that the breweries offer with palatable, hearty portions. Catering company Lante Brau-Casa plates satiating bites like the prosciutto wrapped Medjool dates stuffed with honey and goat cheese on top of a mellow apricot spread with a sprinkling of candied walnuts. We compliment the dish with the Lemony Drinket Cream Ale from Living the Dream Brewing Company.

Lante Brau-Casa integrates 105 West Brewing Company’s beers into their cuisine by basting their kielbasa, veal and chicken andouille sausages in their Coal Train Porter accompanied by slices of sourdough and a beer mustard made with their West Mild Ale. We can’t help but follow up with 105’s notorious Deez Nuts, an English Bitter with strong hazelnut, peanut butter and molasses elements.

Mile High Cajun food truck delivers a savory duo with fried jambalaya arancinis and smoked andouille crostinis that prove to be a solid match up with the the sahti, a traditional Finish beer that utilizes juniper berries, from The Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project.

Uncle Tapas, Spanish-American cuisine blends numerous Mediterranean influences with comfort food and can hardly keep up with the demand for their open-faced meatball sandwiches which we pair with the the Red Sour Ale from Acidulous Brewing Company.

Sokare brings Tex-Mex and tailgating together as they serve up a slider version of their signature chargrilled sandwich, the CHAMPIONChick with thick cut bacon and blue cheese crumbles on a sesame seed bun alongside beef street tacos with a kale mix topped with Sriracha mayonnaise. We hit the refresh button in between bites with a Beerito, an amber Mexican-style lager with hints of cocoa from Oskar Blues Brewery.

Cheffin’s Cheesesteak’s & Cubano’s puts out stellar heat with Thai peanut and buffalo-style wings that we finish with a balanced Colorado Soul IPA from Blue Spruce Brewing Company.

White twinkling lights are strung throughout the trees and the energy of the festival has an easy going, enchanting quality. A huge plus is the minimal to nonexistent lines at the beer tents with no sense of hurried urgency when tasting and chatting with the brewers and staff.

The spirit animal of New Belgium Brewing Company.
The layout and crowd size create a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy and unwind.

There is ample seating available between the patio furniture at the base of the festival and rows of steep, faux-grass lined steps where guests can enjoy the live bands perform and take a pause to comfortably drink and dine.

The Symbols from Fort Collins, Colorado open the show.
Award-winning modern country band, Ryan Chrys & the Rough Cuts from Denver headline and begin to play as the stars come out.

There is no drunk-fest feel and the clever decision to pair food with healthy amounts of beer is always a wise choice which give events like this an edge. Tickets for the Castle Rock Brew Fest Under the Stars were priced at $65 which can be compared to the average $40 of a typical beer-only event. But knowing that there will be swarms of impatient patrons and pretzel necklaces at best, to spend an additional $25 to receive twice the traditional pour and unlimited appetizers is money well-spent.

“We received a lot of compliments on how beautiful the venue was, how delicious the brews and food were and enjoyed rocking out with the bands,” says Elaine Patch, marketing coordinator at Rockyard Brewing Co. “We look forward to making some improvements for next year to make this even better and continue to raise more funds for our fest charity.”

Proceeds from the Castle Rock Brew Fest Under the Stars benefit the Douglas County Community Foundation.