Fans of local booze brave the cold at Cultivate Festival

Anybody who doubts Denver beer geeks are among the most devoted of all brew lovers wasn’t at last Saturday’s Chipotle Mexican Grill-sponsored Cultivate Festival.  Who, besides we burly, mile-high suds-guzzlers would endure hours of sub-freezing temperatures in City Park simply to get our frozen fingers on a sample of local beer?  Who else would wrap themselves in six to seven layers of fleece so that we might enjoy natural, artisanal foods without keeling over from exposure?  While many Americans would curl up by the hearth on such a glacial day, Denver defied Mother Nature’s fury, set forth like Arctic explorers, and braved the frost in support of their local brewers, chefs, farmers, and musicians.

Here are a few highlights from the event.

  • I appreciated that Ska Brewing brought their new Mole Stout to the festival; I’ve been looking all over town for it and, according to the Ska rep on site, liquor stores run out of it almost as quickly as they get it in.  I was quite fortunate to find it at Cultivate.  If you have the opportunity to taste this beer, take it!  It may be your only chance.
  • Likewise, I like that New Belgium Brewing, in addition to their usual lineup, also brought their Lips of Faith Prickly Passion Saison.  I love special treats at tasting events.  Fat Tire is great and all but I need to be wowed with something a little less commonplace.  Kudos to New Belgium.

    Zach Heckendorf

  • I’m a steadfast beer supporter but I can’t help but love our local Colorado Cider Company, too.  Ol’ Stumpy is one of their mainstays but, as I am an infrequent cider drinker, it seemed like a special release.  The addition of Granny Smith and Janagold makes for an exceptionally apple-y flavor and the chardonnay barrels it’s aged in imparts even more unique characteristics.
  • Did you know The Infinite Monkey Theorem offers wine in cans?  I don’t follow wine trends and, at first, I found this quite odd.  Then, however, I started to thinking how, not too long ago, canned craft beer had its detractors but, nowadays, beer geeks know cans are actually superior to bottles in almost every way.  I wonder if wine geeks will embrace cans the same way beer geeks have.
  • After a knocking back a few beers, I started feeling the munchies coming on so I headed to the Artisans’ Hall and snacked my way through the whole tent.  The buttery, salty dough-monsters from Colorado Pretzels did much to satisfy my growling stomach.  Also present was Oskar Blues’ Hops & Heifers Farm serving up All Natural Berkshire Sopressata and Old Chub Beer Braised Short Ribs.  And the Cubano sandwich made from The Real Dill pickles?  Divine.
  • The Chefs’ Tent was a popular spot and not just because the ovens heated the place up—celebrity chefs Amanda Freitag, Michael Chiarello, Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson, Richard Blais, and Chipotle’s Culinary Development Team put the majority of the butts in their seats.

    Amanda Freitag

  • It began to snow at around 12:00pm and it became necessary to move one’s body to maintain a safe body temperature.  Luckily, the snow coincided at roughly the same time the bands started playing so it was possible to groove on the beats and ward off frostbite simultaneously.  The music consisted of Zack Heckendorf, Tennis, Okkervil River, Grouplove, Best Coast, and Chris Golub.  I’ll forever be amazed how those guitarists can keep picking away when their fingertips are surely white-tipped and numb.
  • My girlfriend is a middle school science teacher and teaches a unit on The Omnivore’s Dilemma so we stopped by the kid’s section to snack on some sci-fi-colored vegetables (I don’t care if it’s healthy and natural, purple cauliflower looks like an alien’s brain) and converse with those advocating for healthier food in school cafeterias.  Since all proceeds from the Brewers’ Hall benefited the Food Family Farming Foundation which, in turn, benefits The Lunch Box program, let it be known that I have done more than my fair share in keeping your little brat from becoming obese.

Coloradoans are tough as nails but even nails have their breaking point; with every joint creaking from the wintertime clime, I left Cultivate to defrost and digest the copious amounts of food and drink in which I had indulged.  I had a fun albeit frigid time and I hope the cold won’t discourage the festival organizers from hosting the event in Denver again; it’s not always so cold in early October.  Keep the booze flowing, the food fresh, and tunes cranked and you’ll always have an audience.

Brewers’ Hall

About Chris Bruns

Chris Bruns is a self-professed beer geek living in Denver. Chris spends much of his time brewing beer at home with friends and family, attempting to visit every brewery in Colorado, attending special beer events and festivals, purchasing and assessing the latest releases from local breweries, and blogging about his adventures in the world of craft beer. He is also the Denver Craft Beer Examiner on Contact Chris by e-mail at or through his blog at