I know what you’re thinking, another speck of salt in the ocean of beer fests. True, it’s easy for festivals to get lost in the crowd (after all, according to BeerAdvocate.com, there are over 6,000 beer fests in the U.S. alone) but COBF is special. It stands head-and-shoulders above the masses. Why is COBF so important? Consider the following:
It’s been around for a long, long time
2014 marks the 25th anniversary of COBF. Do the math; that makes this particular festival among the oldest in America, predating the current craft beer craze. COBF isn’t some Johnny-come-lately, it’s a trendsetter. Only Great American Beer Festival (32 years), Great Taste of the Midwest (28 years), Great Tucson Beer Festival (28 years), and Oregon Brewers Festival (27 years) can claim seniority over COBF. Foam Fest, Sierra Brewfest, and Harpoon Oktoberfest will also turn 25 this year.
It’s seen a lot of change in its 25 years
When Doug Odell of Odell Brewing Co. and Brad Page of CoopersSmith’s Pub & Brewing (now of Colorado Cider Company) kicked off the festival all those years ago, Ft. Collins was far from the beer mecca it is now. Back then, there were only three craft breweries in the city. Today, there are 14. The number of breweries in the state of Colorado was once nine. Now, there’s close to 300. The COBF was founded at a time when America’s beer industry was the laughing stock of our international brethren. Today, the U.S. craft beer community is leading the pack in innovation. 25 years ago, the COBF saw the potential for Colorado suds and the accuracy of its foresight is abundantly clear in the current, flourishing craft beer scene.
It features The Summit
The Summit is a new feature at COBF this year. Presented by the Colorado Brewers Guild, The Summit is an area of the festival where beer geeks can find rare and hard-to-find Colorado beers. The Summit will also include an educational aspect with its “Beer School” feature. When festival-goers enter The Summit, they know they’re in for a unique treat.
It’s free! (Sort of )
COBF isn’t just for beer-drinkers, it also features musical performances, food, zip lines, and climbing walls. And, this year, there’s no entry fee! Just walk right up! Beer geeks will, however, be required to purchase “Festival Bucks” to obtain their 4-oz samples of flagship or seasonal beers and 2-oz samples of beers from The Summit. “Festival Bucks” can be purchased alone or with the Beer Package option which includes a commemorative tasting glass, automatic entry into a raffle for the Year of Beer from Odell, and 10 “Festival Bucks.”
The celebration isn’t confined to the festival.
Beyond the epicenter of COBF, there’s also Breakfast & Brews and All Brewer’s Eve. The very first Breakfast & Brews will be held on Saturday, June 28th, from 9-11 a.m. at The Mainline in Olde Towne Ft. Collins. Attendees will enjoy breakfast food, morning-inspired beers, and, when everybody’s gotten their fill, the group will be escorted by tubas and drums to the COBF where they’ll be the first guests. Tickets for Breakfast & Brews are $40 and can be purchased by clicking here.
In its second year, All Brewer’s Eve will be held Friday, June 27th, from 6-9 p.m. under a big-top tent on the festival grounds. Featuring gourmet foods from El Monte Grill and Lounge and The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, the dinner will also allow guests to sample from many rare and special Colorado beers. Brewery reps will also be on hand to mingle with the diners. Tickets for All Brewer’s Eve are $60 and can be purchased by clicking here.
It’s really, really fun
Okay, fine; all beer fests are a lot of fun but COBF is no exception: 50+ participating Colorado breweries (up slightly from the inaugural COBF’s nine breweries) pouring nearly 100 different beers—what’s not to love? Get yourself to Ft. Collins, taste the beer, taste 25 years of history, and toast to Colorado’s bright and beer-y future!