The idea that “two heads are better than one,” is a widely accepted thought, but is only a slice of the quote by C.S. Lewis: “Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.”
Although we feel confident in Colorado’s craft brewers on a singular level, we find ourselves truly falling for beers that are made in conjunction with other equally awesome breweries. We began discovering the joy in joint ventures at our first Collaboration Fest in 2018, and since then have had the opportunity to contribute to a handful of banded brews to include a memorable “Media Beer,” for Collab Fest 2019, with the award-winning crew at Cannonball Brewing Co. in Golden, Colorado.
In 2020, the Fillmore Auditorium was slated to host the popular event, amplifying the collaborative efforts with the addition of it’s iconic musical backdrop. Sadly, we know how that story ends and in 2020 and 2021, Collaboration Fest was noticeably absent from our calendars. In 2022, the event was able to resurrect itself, picking up right where it left off at the same highly anticipated venue, welcoming back sudsy team efforts just as the beer Gods (a.k.a. Colorado Craft Brewers Guild) intended.
We touch base with Michelle Baldwin, Events and Marketing Manager at the Colorado Brewers Guild, to find out why collaboration is such a pivotal component in craft beer culture, what distinguishes Collab Fest from other events and what makes the brewers relish in these opportunities for brew house togetherness.
“Collaboration Fest is a one of a kind event that celebrates what we love about this industry: community, camaraderie, and creativity,” says Baldwin. “Where else do you get a chance to share a beer with over 130 craft brewers in an intimate setting?”
Over the years we have noticed a simple explanation as to why the process of collaboration seems to appeal to brewers therein, making Collab Fest such a success: They actually get to brew what they want with who they want. Brilliant. Good things come to fruition when the creative process just happens opposed to forcing another hazy IPA into a lager sized hole. What a concept. This organic approach seems to entice brewers to participate in the festival, actually staffing the booths, happy to discuss their artistic, one-offs, versus the typical, albeit helpful but blissfully unaware volunteers who give you a splash and send you onto the next– none the wiser.
“Breweries get together to share their knowledge, ideas, and a few beers while coming up with something delicious and fun, says Baldwin. “Often breweries have a chance to learn from each other and then incorporate that into their business.”
Collab Fest typically features some “unique flavors” and this year was no exception with Marsh Madness, an ice cream stout from Weldwerks Brewing Co., Odell Brewing Co. and Little Man Ice Cream; a ramen beer from Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery & Jade Mountain Brewing Co. and a Nashville Hot Chicken Red IPA from Spice Trade Brewing Co. & Counter Culture Brewery + Grille.
In addition to some wacky flavor profiles, this year’s rad location made things just a tad funkier with tunes pumping and a unique and “challenging layout,” for The Guild to coordinate . The conglomeration of exclusive kegs (and three’s years of bottled up excitement) found an edgy new home within the four walls of Denver’s well-respected musical institution the Fillmore Auditorium and brewers and patrons alike seem to dig the vibe.
“People liked the rock and roll feel of it,” says Baldwin. “We wanted to try a venue that wasn’t a hotel ballroom or traditional space.”
If the excuse to make great beer with your chosen homies isn’t enough, Collab Fest is presented by and benefits the Colorado Brewers Guild, “the non-profit trade association with a mission to promote, protect and propel independent craft breweries through advocacy, community, education and awareness.” By creating a space for art and science to blend like an impeccable imperial cask cuvee, gatherings like this help to rekindle the spark of adventure, innovation and unity confirming that “Colorado is truly the State of Craft Beer.”
“There is no other event like this in the country and brewers have called it a “brewer’s party that the public is invited to,” says Baldwin. “This is the largest public gathering of our member breweries, so it’s always a great chance for breweries to reconnect with other breweries, the Guild staff and board.”
Stay tuned for updates on Collaboration Festival 2023, and follow our IG @rockyfoodreport for additional coverage of more collaboration beers coming in hot in 2022.