Colorado knows how to party at altitude. In the summer, hiking, biking, camping and fishing almost always come with a beer and a shooter. And on the weekends, local brews and spectacular views are sought-after and always delivered. Colorado mountain towns, specifically, are happy to oblige. These ski-town festivals offer the best alcohol and adventure pairings in the nation, not to mention the most creative alliteration and rhyming schemes (you’ll see what I mean…).
Best for craft beer lovers:
Telluride Brews and Blues Facebook
With 348 craft breweries and thousands of taps, Colorado reps more breweries per capita than any other state. The perfect place to try hundreds of unique Colorado brews by the handful? The mountains of Vail or the secluded slopes of Telluride, where each town pairs IPAs, Stouts, and Sours with adventurous experiences and expansive views. Vail’s Craft Beer Classic, June 14-17, brings 40+ breweries over the pass and presents unique opportunities, like pairing the perfect brew with the perfect hike or bike ride. Across the state, Telluride’s popular Brews and Blues Festival, September 14-16, hosts 56 breweries and headliners like Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters.
Best for cider tasters:
Beer’s fruitier, tarter, and often more playful cousin stars in its own festivals here. Copper’s Cider and Beer Circus, August 25, is unlike any other festival in the area and offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience to sip ciders while watching aerial performers flip at over 9,700 feet. Breckenridge’s Strings, Ciders and Sours Festival, September 28-30, offers fruity flavors from breweries like C Squared Ciders, Odell Brewing and Breckenridge Brewing served alongside live American Bluegrass music to complete the weekend.
Best for winos:
I’m a firm believer that there’s a wine for every occasion, but there’s something about a glass of wine that’s enjoyed mountainside on a summer evening. Turns out there’s over 50 wines for that occasion. Wine samplers and seekers unite at Village Uncorked! Wine, Art, and Cheese Festival in Winter Park, July 7, where unlimited samples of whites, reds, and Rosés come at only $25. And true wine lovers, along with gourmet food lovers, gather on the weekend of June 15 through 17 for Aspen’s Food and Wine Classic, where a 90-point glass of wine and a world-class dish can be enjoyed mountainside or mountain top.
Best for bourbon, rye, scotch and whiskey drinkers:
Colorado doesn’t make any claims to fame about making the best whiskey around. But if there was a claim to fame for the best at drinking it, Coloradans would certainly make that one, and they might even have a shot. Their main strategy is to drink it at high elevation, and to pair it with really good meat. Keystone’s Bacon and Bourbon Festival, June 23 and 24, pairs Bourbons, Ryes and a variety of other whiskeys with greasy favorites like applewood, peppered, and chocolate-covered bacon. Winter Park’s Whiskey and Wings, September 8, allows guests to sample whiskey-by-the-variety, including Scotch and Irish Whiskey, alongside grilled wings and meats from food trucks and restaurants of CO.
Best for hard-alcohol shooters:
If you walk straight to the bar and order a shot with lime and salt or a pitcher of gin and tonic, there’s even festivals out here for you crazies. Breckenridge’s Craft Spirits Festival, late in the season on October 19-21, brings it all, and guests have the ability to sample, mix, vote, and even participate in tours, seminars, classes and more. Last but not least, this Tequila and Tacos Festival on July 7 gives exactly what it says it will and then some, and VIP guests specifically get to indulge in premium tequila and mouth-watering tacos in first-class style.
This summer, may your adventures be exciting, may your views be picturesque, and may they all be honored by a drink with friends. Pick your poison and head to higher elevation. Happy boozing!