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ski vacation

Vail Cascade Resort & Spa

By PJ Hoberman

This weekend marks the 10th annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival in Vail, Colo. Beer festival combined with a ski vacation? Yes, please!

Beer lovers, geeks, connoisseurs and brewers from all over the country, and some from international locales, will converge at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa Jan. 7-9. Events range from homebrew competitions to brewmasters dinners, seminars to serving exams.

The festival starts off Thursday night with a brewmasters dinner with two of the biggest names in big beer: Adam Avery, brewmaster and Founder of Avery Brewing in Boulder, Colo., and Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware.

Friday opens up with a lesson in beer and brewing, lead by Cicerone founder and brewing author Ray Daniels. Later, participants gain access to a rare beer tasting, full of beers brewed specially for this event’s 10th anniversary. The day continues with a Cicerone exam, homebrew competition and another brewmasters dinner.

Saturday is sure wear you thin, in that “Wow, I just skied moguls all day and can’t move; please bring me to a hot tub now,” awesome sort of way. The morning starts with a seminar on experimental beers, entitled “Brewing Outside the Box: Brewers Gone Wild!”

After a seminar by international featured brewmaster Lodewijk Swinkels of LaTrappe/Bierbrouwerij Koningshoeven, and a seminar by Colorado featured brewmaster Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium Brewing Company, the commercial beer tasting event kicks off. With over 150 different beers to choose from, a beer and food pairing challenge, and the homebrew competition award ceremony, it’s going to be an amazing afternoon.

Sunday, I go skiing.

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PJ Hoberman is an avid skier and homebrewer in Denver, Colo. He writes a personal blog about starting a brewery and another blog about beer on The Hop Press.

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