While we run, bike and hike our way through the autumn leaves, the majesty of winter is deliciously nearer every day. It’s already snowing lightly on America’s luckiest mountain ranges. This means one thing: ski season is right around the corner. Which is why we get a head start on planning beer travels, and you should, too. One of the very best—but, for some reason, least-known—beer festivals is already selling tickets fast, so we’d be remiss not to give you ample warning.
This year marks the 13th Annual Big Beers, Belgians, and Barley Wines bacchanal in Vail, Colorado (January 10-12, 2013), a world-class, manageably-sized gathering of brewmasters and beer lovers. Past participating breweries include Belgium’s legendary Brasserie Dupont and Dubuisson as well as American pathbreakers Ommegang, and New Belgium (all of which send their founders and brewmasters in person). This year there are beer pairing dinners with the likes of Avery, Dogfish Head, Dry Dock, and Firestone Walker, technical brewing seminars with industry luminaries, a home brewing competition, and a public Saturday afternoon tasting with a jaw-dropping list, but none of the crowds that can make larger festivals feel like frat parties. Set at the pristine, ski-in, ski-out Vail Cascade Resort & Spa—which, according to the weather gurus, is going to be covered in extra deep powder all-season long—it’s one of the best beer festivals we’ve ever attended, simply because it’s so tricky to choose: beer or black diamonds? Get your tickets before they’re gone here.
And tell us below: if you had to choose, would you rather ski, snowboard, or drink craft beer?