At Bohn Park this past partly-cloudy Saturday the air was filled with the sound of several thousand crack-pop of canned craft beer being opened and shared to the attendees of the 2013 Burning Can festival. This is, truly, a festival for the ages. While it may not hold the notoriety of the similarly named “Burning Man” festival, you are likely to enjoy yourself 1000% more, see 1000% less old, naked people and possibly only get sand in your shoes rather than your, well, everywhere else.
Started in 2010 with 25 brewers showcasing about 100 varieties of canned beer, the third Burning Can Beer Fest (2011 was cancelled due to logistical nightmares) featured nearly 40 breweries from all over the country bringing their best in sustainable beer distribution. Even the personally criticized Sam Adam’s, late to the canned-beer party, was in attendance with their canned Lager and Summertime Ale. Their presence was a mixed bag – was the presence of such a large craft brewery validation of the canning culture? Or have things jumped ship?
Burning Can is held in conjunction with the Lyons Outdoor Games – an event of physical prowess hosted by the town that features everything from running to kayaking to BMX stunt cycling. It also celebrated the perfect intersection between beer, outdoor living, bikes, and sustainability – canned beer and bikes and camping. Sure, pouring 2-3 ounce tasters from one can into another may not make a whole lot of sense at a festival – just take look at the stacks of empties that piled up at each of the booths an hour into the event – but of course recycling experts were present to handle the volume of discarded aluminum.
The spirit of the festival didn’t stop when the brewers stopped pouring. Many festival goers headed back to campsites for the evening with coolers full of canned craft to enjoy as the Lyons Outdoor Games ended their festivities with a fireworks show.
The downside? Sadly, there were a few “eh, that’s too bad” moments of the festival.
The layout – Previous festivals had a significantly grander layout – a half-circle that spanned about the length of a football field that allowed foot traffic to flow even while the lines stretched. This years’s grid-and-aisle setup was suffocating at points. Be free, be open. Let that breeze flow through!
I also wasn’t too keen on the new VIP option this year – for an additional 10 bucks you not only got into the festival an hour early, but you were also given a special tasting glass. The standard tasting vessel was a small aluminum can. Kind of robbed from the experience of being a canned beer festival by re-introducing glass.
And of course, more bathroom facilities would have been nice. This is, after all, a drinking festival. The rule of thumb is “whatever you think you might need, then double it.” Waiting a half an hour to pee? Evil.
The common festival question: “Any favorites?” I really enjoyed the offerings from Eddyline and Big Choice Brewing. Eddyline, in Buena Vista, was pouring their Crank Yanker IPA. It was a hopped up bike-loving ale – fits in perfectly with the bike-centric themes that were rampant at the event. Big Choice Brewing, based in Broomfield, brought Disconnected Red. Cool and malty with just enough aromatic hops, it was served up in a tall boy, so one’ll do ya.
Next year will likely be bigger with more breweries in attendance as canned craft makes its way into more markets and inducts more fans into the fold.