The holiday season is upon us and, once again, we are bombarded with sanguine messages of faith, family, and charity. Bah, humbug! My thoughts turn elsewhere: to commercialism, to estranged relatives forced to be civil at Christmas dinner, to ice-related traffic accidents. Oh, my mind goes to dark places. It is, however, in the dark that the holidays find salvation. It is found at the bottom of a pint—a pint of brown, black, or deep, ruby red beer: perfect wintertime libations. Cleary, I’m not the only person who thinks so as Wynkoop Brewing Company’s Parade of Darks event—wherein breweries from Colorado, the U.S., and Belgium serve beers that are amber-colored or darker—has been happening for three years.
This was my first time attending Parade of Darks (a none-too-subtle pun on the Parade of Lights) and now I’m depressed because I know what I’ve been missing these past two years. I’ve missed sampling over 50 different beers. I’ve missed opportunities to try the beers from breweries as big and established as New Belgium and as small and recent as Caution: Brewing Company. I’ve missed the chance to drink for a cause as all proceeds from the event went to Metro CareRing; it alleviates the guilt a little knowing that one’s drunkenness is directly and positively impacting somebody in need.
The Parade of Darks is no GABF, but with 34 breweries in attendance it still presented more options than one would ever need. I couldn’t possibly recall every ounce of detail from the night but a few beers, events, and encounters stick out in my mind:
- Radiator from Renegade Brewing, Christmas Ale from Bristol Brewing, and Pug Ryan’s Barrel-Aged Munich Dunkel stood out as some of the more interesting beers at the event.
- I’ve heard a whole lot of talk about Firestone Walker and I finally had a chance to try their Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout.
- Coloradans, stick up for your local breweries. When Jersey Shore: Colorado Edition started giving my guys at Golden City crap about how their beer was “flat” (it wasn’t), I made sure to interrupt to tell the brewery rep how much I liked their product especially Black Hop, the beer they brought to the event. I wasn’t lying, either.
- I caught a Westword photographer taking a picture of my Beer in Colorado shirt. He said he liked it because it was retro and worn-out. Actually, it’s a new shirt but I didn’t spend a lot of money on it so it looks older than it is. Still, I’m glad you liked it, man!
- There was also a silent auction at the event. Such prizes included a Fat Tire neon sign, brewery shirts and hats, artwork, and bombers of beer. I put a few bids in on an anniversary beer from Firestone Walker, a few Great Divide hats, and three bombers of Dry Dock beer. I lost out on the Firestone Walker and the hats (mostly because I was getting fed up with the tool that kept outbidding me by a penny) but I did go home with the three bombers.
At the end of the event, I stumbled out into the cold, hauled myself into the passenger’s seat of my girlfriend’s car, and rode home with a grin on my face. This is what the holiday’s are all about—drinking dark beer in the company of other beer-loving individuals. Send back the gifts because all I want for Christmas is Parade of Darks again and again.