Steamworks turns legal and Grand Tasting survival guide

Steamworks turns legal and Grand Tasting survival guide
Chris Aaland - 09/14/2017

Festival season, like the summer, is nearly over. It all but winds down at this weekend’s 24th annual Telluride Blues & Brews. And 2017 is an epic year for Blues & Brews, with Bonnie Raitt, TajMo: the Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ Band and Steve Winwood headlining. Some old festival favorites are on the bill, too, including Anders Osborne, Delbert McClinton, Tab Benoit, Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band and Eric Lindell. Indie rock crashes the party with the Drive-By Truckers, Chicano Batman and the Record Company.

Then there’s the brew. All weekend long, you can purchase suds in the House of Brews, including those from festival sponsor Sierra Nevada, plus Ska, Durango Brewing, Telluride, Bonfire (Eagle) and Big B’s Hard Cider (Hotchkiss).

The mother of all beer events – at least in these parts – is the three-hour bacchanalian orgy that starts at noon Saturday, when 56 microbreweries serve up 170 different beers. Durango is well-represented, with Carver’s, DBC, Ska and Steamworks all on tap. Other San Juan Mountain favorites include T-Ride’s Smugglers and Telluride Brewing Co. and the pride of Silverton, Avalanche Brewing.

I’ll be missing Blues & Brews this year, for the simple reason that I’ve run out of steam. I did the other three big Telluride festivals this summer (Bluegrass, The Ride, Telluride Jazz), plus both FolkWest festers on Reservoir Hill, the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, Music in the Mountains , KSUT’s Party in the Park and the Ska anniversary. Throw in the towel: my liver needs a rest.

Yet there are local beer happenings right here in D-Town. Like McLovin, Steamworks has finally come of age! The pride of E. 2nd Ave. celebrates its 21st anniversary all day long today (Thurs., Sept. 14) with Cajun Boil specials, $2 house beers and the tapping of its special release, Finally Legal Barley Wine.

Ska unleashed its excellent strong Rye Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout at its 22nd anniversary bash last Saturday. It’s damned tasty, but it’s the mother of all strong beers at 13.1 percent ABV. Look for 22-oz. bombers at your favorite liquor store for a limited time. Drink wisely, though: it’s a homewrecker.

The Animas City Theatre welcomes Dimond Saints, I Cite and Kavaso at 9 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Sept. 14). The Saints are the new project of An-Ten-Nae and Releece, known for their innovative use of vocals and boundary-pushing music.

The second annual Happy Trails Festival benefitting Trails 2000 takes place from 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday with live music from Hello Dollface and Robby Overfield & the Breaks, Ska brew, Zia grub, a kids’ area, interactive displays and demos, trail rides, runs and more.

KSUT’s fall membership drive continues through Friday. Grand prize is a two-night stay at Dunton Hot Springs, complete with meals, drinks, a private cottage and unlimited soaking. It’s a $2,000 value, perfect for late fall hikes or an apre?s ski at Telluride this winter. Visit ksut.org or call 970-563-0255 by 6 p.m. Friday. Winning stuff is cool. Supporting public radio is even cooler.

The weekend affords you some great local tunes overlooking College & Main. The Ben Gibson Band rocks the Balcony at 5:30p.m. Friday, followed by Fellowship of the Strings at the Back-stage at 9:30. The next night, Sky Pilot gets psychedelic at 5:30 p.m. at the Balcony, followed by the Crags’ CD release party at 9 p.m. Backstage. That Crags album is a must-listen, by the way.

Despite missing out on Blues & Brews, I’ll eagerly share my wisdom on how to emerge victorious at the Grand Tasting. Keep in mind that the weekend is a decathlon, not a sprint:

1. Don’t wreck your liver on Friday. Limit yourself during Friday’s epic lineup of the Record Company, Delbert McClinton, Anders Osborne, Benjamin Booker and Bonnie Raitt ... eight hours featuring five incredible acts. Alternate waters and pints that evening. Eat a good dinner. Avoid late-night shenanigans.

2. Dress for success. Wear a hat from one of the 56 breweries, and a T-shirt from another. I try to represent as many of Durango’s alehouses as possible.

3. Carbo-load on Saturday morning at Blues for Breakfast at the Elks’ Lodge from 9 a.m. ‘til noon. It’s cheap, easy and tasty. 4. When the festival gates open at 11 a.m., commit yourself to

at least three pints of water before the Grand Tasting begins. You want to be pissing clear by noon.

5. Line up at Carver’s, Steamworks, Ska or DBC booths at around 11:45. You probably know the servers, so you’ll want to remind them that you’re a year-round customer. They’ll reward you with a long pour or two when the buzzer sounds at noon, and maybe some goodies like koozies, stickers and other swag.

6. Bring an alternative vessel for additional pours. My weapon of choice is a 32-oz. plastic boot that hangs from a lanyard around my neck. Das Boot is always a hit at Das BeerFest. When you taste something you really like, ask for them to fill it.

7. Pick short lines, unless you need to back off the gas. Then long lines are the proper choice.

8. Start on the light side – pilsners, sessions and the like. Avoid the big beers during the opening hour. Everyone tries to show-case their 9-percent ABV heavy-hitters, but hold off on those until the second half.

9. Porta-potty breaks are gifts from Gaia. If you unload a quart of liquid, replace it immediately with a pint or two of H2O at the nearby water station. Shoot for a pee break every 30-45 minutes.

10. Stop and enjoy the music! The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band is incredible and plays from 1:30-3. The dance pit will be wide open during their performance, so stroll on down!

11. The lines will thin out around 2 p.m. before the big final rush. Use this time wisely and cover more ground.

12. Never finish the damned thing with an empty glass. Make sure that when they close down the free tasting, your alternate vessel has at least a pint in it and your tasting glass is full, too.

13. For the love of all that’s good and holy, hold off on the edibles until around 7 p.m. You don’t want to pass out during Tab Benoit or TajMo!

One more round and a six pack to go? Email me at chrisa@gobrainstorm.net.  

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