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San Juan Brewfest: So Much More Than Your Grandfather's Brewfest

san juan brewfest in durango colorado

San Juan Brewfest: So Much More Than Your Grandfather's Brewfest

San Juan Brewfest: three to four of our favorite words (depending on how you count them) combined into one of our favorite pastimes? Yes puleaze! The Four Corners' largest craft beer festival is back, and the 21st Annual San Juan Brewfest promises to be just as sudsy as ever with 50 breweries and over 100 different beers to satiate your end-of-summer hankerings. Beverage offerings also include hard cider and hard kambucha, as well as “mocktails” for designated drivers.

Held every year on the Saturday before Labor Day in downtown Durango's Buckley Park, this year's soiree welcomes anyone 21 years and over to celebrate one of the greatest perks of getting old. Get in the spirit of things at Ska Brewing on Friday, August 23, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. for a Tour and Tasting with Thibodeau, co-founder and owner of Ska Brewing. You’ll get taste of specialty beers and be able to see the world of brewers who gave us the almighty Mexican Logger that Durangatangs go nuts for. 

The following morning, eat a hearty breakfast to work off the calories during the Thirsty 13 (see below) as you prepare for a fun-filled, sun-soaked afternoon. While live music lilts and cold beer pours, legal-aged imbibers will enjoy hanging out with friends -- sans wrangling children and navigating dogs. Not that there's anything wrong with those creatures, but the San Juan Brewfest is a pet- and child-free zone.

If you do have kids and need a place to dump them so you can get your drank on, reserve childcare through Nifty Nanny. For other helpful tidbits on how to get the most out of your festival experience, read on:

The Big Picture:

The San Juan Brewfest takes place on Saturday, August 24, from 1:00 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. The event is coordinated by the Business Improvement District, and all proceeds go to United Way of Southwest Colorado. Fifty breweries from across the Southwest each bring at least two beers for folks to sample in their 5 oz. glass included in ticket prices. This event is for fully grown humans. No kids. No pets. Period.

Ticket Options:

The San Juan Brewfest is notorious for being SOLD OUT! Don't get left out in the cold. Make your choice from the options below and click here to purchase tickets. Print out the ticket for entry, or upload it to your phone for scanning at the gate. Bring your photo ID for verification. If you don't want to deal with the 1:00 p.m. lines when the event opens, check in between 10:00 a.m. and noon and enter the event through the Re-Entry Gate.

  •     General Admission - $40 includes a 5 oz. souvenir tasting glass and unlimited tastings from the breweries and distilleries participating in this year's event.
  •     VIP - $80 includes the cute little glass, unlimited tastings, access to the event 1-hour before it opens (noon) AND an invite to the exclusive VIP and Brewer's Party on Friday evening (details below). VIP's also get special access to the VIP Tent which includes a small meal from T;s Smokehouse and shaded seating. 
  •     Designated Driver - $20 includes complimentary "mocktails" throughout the event courtesy of El Moro Spirits and Tavern, Gazpachos, Eolus, and Seasons. Head to the Four Corners Broadcasting booth for your mocktails and DD only seating. And hey - thanks for being awesome.
  •      VIP Designated Driver - $50 includes noon admission with the other VIP-ers, access to the VIP Tent during Brewfest, free yummy mocktails and an invite to the VIP and Brewer's Party the night before (details below).

So You Think You're Pretty Special Cuz You're a VIP?

Well, you totally are. Here's what you get:

  •       VIP and Brewer's Party - Friday, August 23, 6 p.m. till 8 p.m. at 11th Street Station. Enjoy specially curated beers and delicious food from the plethora of food trucks located at this stellar station.
  •       VIP Tent - Saturday, August 24, noon till 5:00 p.m. (during the Brewfest, at Buckley Park). Enjoy shaded seating for you to sip on your delicious brewskis, and enjoy a complimentary meal from T’s Smokehouse.
  •       A Goody Bag! Enjoy your free gifts including a Brewfest labeled bottle of Ska Mexican Logger Jalapeño Hot Sauce from Durango Artisan Foods, a Brewfest labeled bar of Ska beer soap from Flatiron Soap Company, one additional Brewfest branded item, all in a United Way bag.

What if it rains?

Alright, Debbie Downer, Honey Badger don't care! The Brewfest pours on, rain or shine. No refunds, so come prepared for the elements.

Groovy Tunes:

Fans of soul, rejoice! The Brewfest's opening band is paradise’s best kept secret, hailing from Hawaii and blessing the Brewfest with pre-ordained musical greatness. Ron Artis II & The Truth will make their Brewfest debut as the headliner. Spidercat, started by Colorado’s own FY5’s lead singer Mike Finders, will open for the event, giving us electric blues through his trio.

Don't be That Guy:

Yes, there's a lot of beer at the Brewfest. That doesn't mean you have to drink ALL of it. Know your limits, sip responsibly and play nice. You will be asked to leave should trouble start a'brewin' due to your sloppiness. As well, please make a transportation plan before things get out of control. Here are some options:

  • The City of Durango's Main Avenue Trolley: Hallelujah, the Brewfest paid the City to make buses free the entire day of the Brewfest. This conspicuous red trolley runs the length of Main Ave from the Iron Horse Inn to the Transit Center Downtown with multiple stops. Operation hours are 7:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m. with stops/pickups every 20 minutes.
  • Buckhorn Limousine: Reservation required. Call 970.769.0933.
  • Durango Taxi: Call 970.259.4818.
  • UBER: Download the app, setup an account and get a ride.
  • Animas Transportation: Reservation required. Call 970.259.1315.
  • Hit up those DD buddies! And then remember to return the favor. Let’s be real; the DD’s are the real VIPs of this world.

All About the Kids:

Need we say it again? No one under 21 is allowed at the Brewfest. Our friends at Nifty Nanny offer certified, background checked, and trained sitters for your littles. Leave the young ones with a water bottle and some snacks, and trust they're in good hands. 

Half-Marathon? But I Hate Running:  

Then don't worry. This wildly-popular half marathon is sold out, but a waitlist is available for the Thirsty 13. This point-to-point course starts at the Hesperus Church and ends at Ska Brewing. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 24, and registration can include a discounted ticket to the Brewfest. This mostly downhill course drops 1,400-feet in elevation and is filled with lake, pine and mountains views the entire way. Because this is Durango and nothing comes without a price, there is a 3/4-mile climb in the middle of the course, and a dramatic finish up Ska Hill. Cheers to your effort!  We’ll drink more beer for you!

Note to Self:

Backpacks, purses or bags stuffed with festival essentials, like sunscreen, jacket, water bottle and personal items are totally permissible. Alcohol from outside is not. There's plenty here so fret not. Smoking is not allowed in Buckley Park, but you can smoke on Main Ave. Toss butts in the trash can, please.

Volunteer for Beer!

Volunteers are needed Friday, August 23, Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, August 25. All volunteers receive a free entry to the event either before or after their shifts. Click here for a list of volunteer opportunities and to sign up for a shift. Or email Tim at timw@downtowndurango.org.

Let There Be Food:

Vendors for this year's event include Mariana's Authentic Cuisine, Gosar Natural Foods, the Rotary Club of Durango, Street Food Blvd. We’re talking asian assortments, bavarian and pork green chili brats, gourmet tacos plus gourmet nachos, and cheeseburgers. Prevent your hangover here, people. Eat all the food.

Can't Stop, Won't Stop:

Just when you thought it was over, that you could take a week-long break from anymore Durango booze events, you hear about Breakfast and Bloody’s. Chef Dave over at Carver Brewing will be carving up a delicious breakfast served up with your choice of a Bloody Mary or Mimosa on Sunday, August 25. Choose from 9am, 10am, or 11am - whichever you think you can wake up for the day-after. When purchasing your Brewfest ticket, make sure to tick which breakfast you’d like to attend to purchase breakfast entry! Cost is $25.

 

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