Fermentation Fest gives Glenwood a holiday kick
The inaugural Wild West Fermentation Festival debuted Friday night in downtown Glenwood Springs, proving that craft beer and a parking garage can be an appealing combination.
With a wide array of fermented beverages, several food vendors and a number of other products, the event continues from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the parking garage on the corner of Ninth and Cooper.
It’s the brainchild of Emily and Damon Arredondo of Roaring Fork Events. The couple hail from Bend, Oregon, and hope to bring some of that Pacific Northwest energy to Garfield County.
The $20 entry fee — which includes tokens for tastings and a commemorative tasting glass — goes to benefit the Glenwood Springs Center of the Arts.
“This is our first stab at a big downtown event, and it’s right up our alley,” said Executive Director Christina Brusig. “They had the idea and we had the connections, so it was kind of a marriage made in beer.”
You can also get in free by volunteering for at least four hours. You must be 21 or older to attend, although families can take advantage of cornhole, karaoke, chalk art and more down the street at the Glenwood Springs Branch Library from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The event title is deliberately broad to allow for a wide variety of products.
“Next year we’re looking at expanding and doing wine and maybe pickles and kimchi. It’s kind of surprising how many things are fermentation,” Emily Arredondo said. “We really want to encompass that, although as a first year event we’re not quite at that point.
“We want it to be an appreciation of the fermentables and not a drunkfest,” she added. “It’s a tasting event with lots of variety.”
She acknowledged that the choice to use the parking garage has raised some eyebrows, but defended it as a central location with no street closures required.
“It’s just underutilized and we thought we could take advantage of it,” she said.
There’s plenty of parking in the core, she added, plus the North South Connector bus, a pedicab and even Uber to get back and forth. In an effort to spread the benefits around, you can also stamp a special passport at five of 23 participating downtown business for a free token.
The business community seemed enthusiastic about the event.
“We’d love to see this take off,” said Sunlight Mountain marketing director Troy Hawks. “We’ve heard people say they want things to pick up a bit in Glenwood, and this shows what a fun community Glenwood is.”
So, too, were the early attendees.
Glenwood realty agent Steve Carter was straightforward in his assessment.
“I like beer,” he said. “I like some of the larger beers, but the flavor of craft beer is better.”
His wife, Laura, was also excited about the event.
“It’s always good to support small business,” she said.
Jeremy West, president of the local homebrew club, praised the range of products.
There’s something here for everyone,” he said. “It’s nice to have something like this in town.”
“It was really fun at my age to be carded,” said Luana Olsen, 72, as she sized up the selection.
“It’s hard to decide where to begin,” she added.
You could start close to home, with Woody Creek Distillery. Although it’s known for its locally grown potato vodka, it has several other offerings.
“Our new thing is gin,” said distiller Sean Simpson. “We’re trying to change people’s mind about it. It’s a departure from that in-your-face juniper, so you can really taste the other local botanicals.”
A little further afield is Deerhammer Distilling in Buena Vista.
“When we heard about this evening we thought it was a great opportunity to get up here and show off our stuff,” said owner Lenny Eckstein. “Whiskey takes a long time, so we haven’t really gotten out beyond our own region and Denver.”
Deerhammer’s signature is a single malt that “jumps back between old and new ways.”
“Our goal is to make a distinct craft that doesn’t mimic the big guys,” Eckstein said.
If you like your beer straightforward and classic, you might try Tivoli’s flagship Helles Lager, which uses the original 1859 recipe.
“It’s beer through and through,” said mountain sales rep Calvin Winter.
Through Tivoli Distributing, Winter also represents an array of other products from Aspen Brewing to Snowcap Cider.
“I think you’re going to find a lot of Colorado and national craft products here you wouldn’t get together anywhere else,” he added. “In my time in the valley, I haven’t seen anything else like this.”
One of the few out-of-state products is Wandering Aengis and Anthem out of Salem, Oregon.
“We were one of the first companies to bring back craft ciders and it’s starting to move east,” sales rep Chelsey Thomsen said.
Thomsen has been working with Arredondos since their Bend days.
“They have run some really awesome events in Oregon, so I’m excited they’re bringing that to Colorado,” she said.
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