Ska-nniversary, joining the circus & Twin Buttes bash

Ska-nniversary, joining the circus & Twin Buttes bash

Clash cover band the Nuns of Brixton play for the sold-out 23rd Ska Anniversary and Brewers Invitational this Saturday.

Chris Aaland - 09/06/2018

Ska Brewing’s 23rd Anniversary and Brewers Invitational takes place from 4-9 p.m. Saturday at the World Headquarters in Bodo Park. This year’s event, like each of their annual anniversaries, sold out months ago. The musical offerings include Big D & the Kids Table, the Doped Up Dollies and the Nuns of Brixton. And while all three promise to deliver raucous sets to afrom microbrew aficionados who view the makers of Budweiser and Bud Light as an enemy that gobbles up shelf space at liquor stores, cutting back on the shelf space available to Mom & Pops like Ska and Steamworks. I certainly understand this argument. But I’m also friends with guys like Breckenridge marketing director Todd Thibault and his sidekick, Yeager Sharpe, and head brewery Bob Harrington. They’re committed to their craft and to supplying drinkers with outstanding products. Like me, they’re drunked-up crowd, the highlight of the event is sampling the wares of 30-plus breweries that will be on hand.

Ska’s own 23rd anniversary beer has been on the shelves for a couple of months already: MoSka Mule. Inspired by the popular Moscow Mule cocktail that features vodka, ginger beer and lime, MoSka Mule is an ale brewed with ginger and lime. It’s slightly acidic, slightly sour and completely refreshing. At 6.1 percent ABV, it’s an easy-drinking beer that pairs perfectly with long summer days and relaxing cookouts.

One of the most exciting parts of any beerfest – as the recent San Juan Brewfest proved to me – is finding hidden gems. Austin Lashley, the brewmaster at Silverton’s Avalanche Brewing, is one such gem. I’ve never had a bad beer of his, but one of his offerings two weekends ago was simply stunning ... a strawberry rhubarb gose. Strawberry rhubarb pie is my favorite dessert in the world, and I consider myself a pie snob. When the scent of this beer hit the back of my palate, my nose was filled with the same scent of Grandma Aaland’s summer pies. It transported me back to a time and place. The taste had hints of strawberry and rhubarb, and a mild sourness. Upon swallowing, the strawberry and rhubarb scents and flavors reappeared. I’m hoping Austin will be at Saturday’s Ska blowout and that he’ll tap another keg of this wondrous concoction. But if he doesn’t, I’ll surely find something from another craft brewer that will capture my imagination.

We were fortunate to have six breweries in Durango crafting an array of tasty offerings for the past few years. Unfortunately, though, we’re back down to five. Durango’s second oldest ale house, Durango Brewing, locked its doors, fired its staff and moved operations to La Junta last month. The move has been years in the making, ever since a Denver holding company, Gold Buckle Brewing, purchased a majority interest in DBC. In September 2015, they closed the tap room for repairs, laying off 11 employees. They reopened a few months later but moved most of their brewing operations to La Junta, which no doubt cut down on shipping costs to major Front Range markets. But many of us remained skeptical of Colorado’s third oldest microbrewery. Then came the news this August. I, like many, have sipped my last DBC.

Instead, I’ll relish in the continued opportunity to enjoy Animas Brewing, BREW Pub & Kitchen, Carvers, Ska, Steamworks and a host of regional favorites like Telluride, Avalanche, Pagosa, Bottom Shelf and Mancos.

At last weekend’s Four Corners Folk Festival, I had the pleasure of drinking several different Breckenridge offerings. A few years ago, Breck was acquired by Anheuser-Busch, prompting outcries from microbrew aficionados who view the makers of Budweiser and Bud Light as an enemy that gobbles up shelf space at liquor stores, cutting back on the shelf space available to Mom & Pops like Ska and Steamworks. I certainly understand this argument. But I’m also friends with guys like Breckenridge marketing director Todd Thibault and his sidekick, Yeager Sharpe, and head brewery Bob Harrington. They’re committed to their craft and to supplying drinkers with outstanding products. Like me, they’re fans of what’s poured at tiny breweries all over the state. I like to think there’s room on the shelves for beers from both camps; there certainly is in my beer fridge.

Music in the Mountains’ second annual Escape Room Tournament runs from Friday through Sunday, benefitting music education programs in our community. Teams of six will have 45 minutes to solve Conundrum Escape Room’s exclusively themed Music in the Mountains room. Imagine it’s the Roaring ’20s at a famous jazz club. Five musicians are performing that night, but before the show starts, one of them is found dead in the dressing room. You and your team are the detectives who have been called to the scene where only six people were when the murder happened. You must figure out the crime because the show must go on! Twenty-seven teams will compete. Find out more at musicinthemountains.com.

Durango Aerial Arts & Acrobatics presents The Durango Circus’ premiere appearance in Circus in Wonderland at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Animas City Theatre. Based on Alice in Wonderland, this kid-friendly event shows what would happen to your favorite Wonderland characters if they had run away to join the circus.

The end of summer is always sad, especially when Lawn Chair Kings play their final Balcony performance of the year. Catch them from 5-9 p.m. Friday, rain or shine. There’s still time to enjoy a cold one under the hot sun.

Finally, the Twin Buttes Harvest Festival takes place this Friday from 4-8 p.m. Enjoy music from Afrobeatniks, a “Chopped” culinary competition, hay rides, kids’ activities, treasure hunt, Twin Buttes Farm tours, bike demos and more. TOAST Mobile Lounge serves up the first drink free, plus there’s food for sale from Fired Up Pizza and Mountain Taco.

The best thing I heard this week was actually three different virtuoso musicians on Reservoir Hill at the 23rd annual Four Corners Folk Festival: Jacob Joliff, Jon Stickley and Lyndsay Pruett. Stickley and Pruett are two-thirds of the Jon Stickley Trio, on guitar and fiddle, respectively. I wrote that they’re the heir apparents to the David Grisman Quintet last week, which is both misleading and limiting. Stickley & Pruett thrash on their instruments, best proven by their “Darth Radar” closing to their late night set. Metallica would approve of the energy and chops. But Joliff is a much more subtle treasure. Best known as mandolin player for Yonder Mountain String Band, he managed to prove he was the best eight-string picker at a festival that included the aforementioned Grisman & Sam Bush. Check out his solo album, “Instrumentals Vol. 1” for proof.

Vodka’s too rough, champagne costs too much? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.

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