Colorado has no shortage of breweries or beer celebrations. Beer is part of the Rocky Mountain lifestyle. And there is no shortage of beer festivals in just about every city, especially the popular ski towns.
But one of the coolest annual brew fests is in the popular ski town of Breckenridge. The annual Breckenridge Spring Beer Festival hits the mountains every spring, and if you’re traveling through Colorado for spring break, make a point to stop and check it out.
Even if you don’t drink, the festival features free live music, as well as food trucks, vendors, and shopping — not to mention a fun party atmosphere in the mountains. Because this fest strategically falls during spring break, it is always packed and often sells out.
This festival is for a good cause. It raises money for the Samantha Remington Angel Heart Foundation, created in honor of a young, local two-time heart transplant recipient who died in 2016.
Every year has a different theme, like the '80s, when upbeat jams (by a cover rock band fittingly named The Goonies) filled the streets and participants brought out their old-school, gaudy, fluorescent-colored ski suits.
Colorado ski towns tend to take their costumes quite seriously, so if you go all out, you won’t be alone. There's even a costume contest to honor the most outrageous beer-fest-goer of all.
The Details (Including How to Avoid the Hangover)
Grab a ticket to the beer fest, either GA or VIP, if you want to taste beer from dozens of different breweries, including many based in Colorado. The ticket typically comes with a mug and all-you-can-drink beer tasting. Needless to say, plan for a sober ride, or stay in town within walking distance of the fest, which is always right downtown in the 100 and 200 blocks of Ridge Street.
DDs get in for free or can pick up a VIP DD ticket for entrance into the tent and a lunch.
Breck also offers great public transportation, if you want to save money and stay in the less-expensive nearby Frisco. The bus ride is simple and convenient.
Beyond the beer, you can grab lunch from favorite local vendors. In the past, highlights have included Climax Jerky (gourmet Colorado jerky, including elk and alligator jerky), Ghandi’s Indian Cuisine (not really made by the Ghandi, gosh) and Andy’s Kitchen (Asian food, made in Colorado). Vendors switch up every year. Or fill up at a nearby restaurant. Breck has plenty of great options.
The beer fest is also a super place to pick up some souvenirs. Shopping typically includes hats, crafts, bikes and bike guides and, aptly, a local company called Hangover Painover, “developed in the Rocky Mountains by a hard-partying ski bum.” This company sells a powder packed with vitamins and nutrients you can add to any drink that claims to curb the feelings of a hangover the next morning. Drink it at the festival and, theoretically, you will be able to hop up the next morning and hit the slopes, without needing extra-dark sunglasses and Tylenol.
Kids can attend the Breckenridge Beer Fest, but really, leave your strollers at home. This is more of an adult party atmosphere. Leave your pup at home, too.
After the festival ends that evening, there's always a fun after-party at a local bar or restaurant, where the drink specials, live music, and food continues.
Want to Go?
Check the website for details on where to pick up your tickets in advance or the day of. Consider going VIP, because you will get in an hour ahead of everybody else, which means no long lines and a head start on some of the more popular brews (not a bad idea, since some breweries may run out of the more popular beers, due to demand). VIP people also get access to some full pours (not just small tasters), a collectors' mug and a catered lunch, followed by snacks and desserts. Adding that all together, the VIP tickets end up being quite a deal, which is why they usually sell out.
VIP event-goers also get access to separate bathrooms (a serious perk), a special patio, live music and plenty of seating. Your feet will thank you for that.
Of course, make sure to drink plenty of water, especially if you’re visiting from out of state or sea level. If you haven’t consumed alcohol at this elevation before, proceed with caution. It may hit you hard. Vendors throughout the festival will also be selling water and non-alcoholic beverages. Hydrate plenty before you head out and make sure you are acclimated to the altitude, too. Breck is one of the higher ski towns, at 9,600 feet above sea level.