The Great American Beer Festival Week 2014 Calendar of Events

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The Great American Beer Festival will welcome nearly 50,000 people to the Colorado Convention Center October 2 through October 4, along with an astounding 3,500 beers from 726 breweries, making it the biggest and best sudstravaganza in the world. Tickets sold out months ago (although you can find them online if you're willing to spend some extra dough), but that doesn't mean you can't get your craft-beer vibe on in Denver and its environs. Starting on Saturday, September 27 and continuing for ten days, breweries, bars, restaurants and other venues up and down the Front Range will host beer dinners, concerts, parties, special tappings, bar crawls, meet-and-greets, smaller festivals and classes that should thrill every beer lover -- from near and far.

Here is our guide to GABF-related events, a list that we will be updating on a weekly -- and probably daily -- basis as new activities are planned and introduced. Cheers!

See also: Nearly 1,400 breweries register for GABF, 81 percent higher than last year

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Beer Calendar: German Lagers, Pumpkin Ales and a Pair of Beer Dinners

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Echo Brewing Facebook page
The new Echo Brewing in Erie.
Echo Brewing, which started in Frederick, has opened a second location in a former firehouse in Erie, at 600 Briggs Street, right across I-25. The taphouse and restaurant will specialize in pizza, appetizers, salads and desserts, in addition to its beer.

Three-month-old Denver Pearl Brewing announced last weekend that it has changed its name to Platt Park Brewing; the company says it made the switch as a result of pressure from PBR, which owns the trademark to Pearl Brewing, and Denver Beer Co, which has a similar lock on Denver Beer.

Turn the page to see of this week's craft-beer events.

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Beer Calendar: Oktoberfest, Brewery Anniversaries and Big Beers Fest Tix

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David Foxhoven
Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Fest.
Tickets to the fifteenth annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival, which takes place January 8 through January 10 in Vail, went on sale this morning -- and some of the events have already sold out. Although the events, and the weekend itself, are expensive compared to many beer fests, every attendee I've ever talked to has returned feeling it was worth the money -- and then some, so it's worth trying to score some tickets if you can. Activities this round include the Commercial Tasting ($65), Brewmasters' Dinners (hosted by Jennifer Glanville of Boston Beer Company and David Cole of Epic Brewing, among others), a brewer's reception, homebrew judging and educational seminars put on by the craft-brewing industry's leading innovators and brewery owners. And then there's the drinking: craft celebrities and famous beermakers bring huge, rare and special beers to the fest, and then proceed to drink them with you. Most of the events are ticketed separately; for all the prices, times and information, go to bigbeersfestival.com.

Turn the page to see all of this week's craft-beer events.

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Beer Calendar: Get Your Brews With Lemon, Cinnamon, Ginger, Orange and Chocolate

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Dry Dock Brewing Facebook page
Two bi-partisan groups of Colorado lawmakers -- a crew that is often woefully unfamiliar with this state's craft-beer industry -- will make their way to a pair of breweries this week as part of a program created by the Colorado Brewers Guild called Hop the Vote. A team of state senators will be at Dry Dock Brewing today while a roster of state representatives will head to Denver Beer Co on Friday. Both groups will brew a beer -- and then Great American Beer Festival attendees will vote on which is better in October. The real payoff will come in 2015 and thereafter, though, if the Guild is able to keep these legislators on its side when it comes to booze-related political issues like whether or not grocery stores should be allowed to sell full-strength beer, wine and spirits.

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Beer calendar: The Boulder Craft Beer Fest, New Holland, and a Top-Secret Wild Ale

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Oskar Blues Facebook page
Oskar Blues said last week that it has lowered the alcohol content of its newest and most unusual craft beer, Old Chub Scotch Ale Nitro, at the request of bars across the OB's 35-state distribution network, where the beer will be rolled out in coming weeks. Old Chub will now weigh in at 6.9 percent ABV, rather than 8 percent.

The change means that these bars can offer traditional full-pint pours rather than eight- or ten-ounce pours, the Longmont brewery says. OB debuted the beer -- the first American-made nitro beer in a can -- in Denver in April at the Craft Brewers Conference. Regular, non-nitro Old Chub will remain at 8 percent ABV.

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Beer Calendar: Ed Fest and Special Beers from Diebolt, Verboten, Black Shirt and Upslope

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New Belgium Facebook page
Is it fall yet? Almost. A pair of seasonal beers from two Colorado breweries are hitting shelves around town right now. They include Grimm Brothers Brewhouse's Farmer's Daughter, a 6.1 ABV German Style Oktoberfest beer with a creamy mouthfeel and toasty aroma, and New Belgium's Tour de Fall, a new seasonal that celebrates the Fort Collins brewery's annual ten-city Tour de Fall bicycle extravaganza. The 6 percent ABV pale ale was dry-hopped with Cascade and Amarillo dry hops.

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Beer calendar: Fermentation Fest, Firkins, Football and Denver Beer Co's Anniversary

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New Belgium Facebook page
The Daily Meal released its annual list of the 50 Best Craft Breweries in America -- as voted on by readers -- last week, and it included seven in Colorado. They are: New Belgium Brewing (ranked 7), Oskar Blues (ranked 9), Avery (ranked 12), Epic (ranked 16), Great Divide (ranked 18), Odell (ranked 27) and Crooked Stave (ranked 32).

Turn the page to see all of this week's craft-beer events.

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Beer calendar: Sesh Fest, Avery's anniversary and a pair of new cans

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Dad & Dude's Breweria Facebook page
Dude's Brews, the packaging arm of Dad & Dude's Breweria in Aurora, has started canning two new beers: Leaves of Lemongrass, a light-bodied wit bier brewed with lemongrass, coriander and orange peel, and Riot Red Rye Ale, a spicy red infused with Lampong peppercorns from Indonesia. They should be available in local liquor stores next week, along with an existing beer, Dank IPA. Dude's was able to can the beers after raising $770,000 from investors; the brewery used the money to hire two sales reps to help expand its distribution and to design the artwork for the cans. All of the beers are being produced at Rockyard Brewing in Castle Rock using an alternating proprietorship agreement, which allows Dude's to use its fellow brewery's equipment.

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Beer calendar: Throw down at Grimm Bros., Sanitas, Avery and Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp

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Powder Keg Brewing Facebook page
Powder Keg Brewing has opened in Niwot, where it's the town's second craft-beer maker; the location has a brewpub license (since it plans to serve food), which means it can also pour beers from other local breweries, including its neighbor, Bootstrap Brewing. Powder Keg plans to be open seven days a week, from 2 to 10 p.m.

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Beer calendar: Special events at Copper Kettle, Wynkoop, Upslope and World of Beer

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Avery Brewing Facebook page
Riders from last year's BoulDurango cracking beers at elevation.
Beer can pack on calories, especially for the owners and employees of Colorado's breweries, who have to drink their brews for a living (tough life). Fortunately, they know how to work them off as well. On Monday, July 21, owners and reps from six breweries (Avery, Ska, Boulder Beer, Left Hand, Oskar Blues and Great Divide) will participate in the sixth annual Tour De BoulDurango, a five-day, 426-mile bike ride that starts at Avery Brewing in Boulder, traverses some of the state's steepest passes, and ends at Ska Brewing in Durango. And then they will party: Finish Fest (tickets are $10) starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 25, featuring beers from all six breweries, including Wheelsucker Wheat, a collaboration between Avery and Ska. And this year, the riders are allowing anyone along the route to join in, cheer them on or meet them for a beer along the way with the use of Insta-Mapper GPS tracking software. Go to skabrewing.com for more information.

Turn the page to see all of this week's craft-beer events.

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