Blues & Brews

Sierra Nevada is again this year’s Telluride Blues & Brews Festival official beer sponsor. (Courtesy photo)

The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is an “OG” (original gangster) music and beer festival, said Patrick Shehan, partnerships coordinator for SBG Productions, the company that organizes Blues & Brews.

The festival, which is this weekend, has celebrated everything blues and craft beer since the first one in 1994 in becoming one of the most well-known events of its kind.

“It’s like a legacy festival in the beer world now. It’s an event that people heard about and know is a good time,” Shehan said.

The musical lineup features headliners Boz Scaggs, John Fogerty, and George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. P-Funk was added to the bill last week after Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh had to cancel due to back surgery.

“My amazing staff didn’t let this news get them down, instead we hit the emails and phones hard,” festival founder Steve Gumble said in a previous interview with the Daily Planet. “It wasn’t long before our ship came in!”

The other artists performing this weekend are Anders Osborne, Ryan Bingham, Tab Benoit, Hiss Golden Messenger, The Allman Betts Band, Samantha Fish, Ruthie Foster, Durand Jones & The Indications, Cedric Burnside, Phil Cook, The Como Mamas, Otis Taylor’s Psychedelic Banjo Posse, Southern Avenue, Low Cut Connie, Ida Mae, Willie Farmer, Jake Xerxes Fussell, Cookie McGee, Sandra Hall, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Mitch Woods, Alex Paul and the Birds of Play, Scramble Campbell, Ms. Hy-C & Fresh Start, Joanna Connor Band, Husky & The Slow Attack, Eagle Eye Williamson, Grant Sabin with Michael Jennings, and Molly Gene One Whoaman Band.

Now for the brews. Sierra Nevada is back again as the festival’s official beer sponsor and will feature several brews, including Back Porch Lager, which was created by Blues & Brews staff in 2010.

Saturday’s grand tasting will include 56 breweries and cideries — the max the festival can accommodate. Shehan explained that staff sifts through over 100 applications in selecting grand tasting participants, which is a mixture of legacy breweries and up-and-comers this year. There’s even a hard kombucha (KYLA).

“We have our core breweries that come back every year,” he explained. “Then there are the ones that are hot (at the moment).”

Soulcraft Brewing of Salida and Arvada’s New Image Brewing are two that Shehan said have been getting a lot of hype lately. Some of the breweries that are festival staples include Odell Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, Ska Brewing, Telluride Brewing, Smuggler Union Brewery and New Belgium, among others.

Returning for the second year is the House of Brews, where thirsty patrons can grab exclusive brews at select times. Sierra Nevada, Ska Brewing, Telluride Brewing, Avery Brewing, Bonfire Brewing and Big B’s Hard Cider will be pouring there throughout the weekend. Keep an ear out for House of Brews announcements.

“You can get rare craft beers over there that are only available at the brewery or at Blues & Brews,” Shehan said. “We don’t announce them until the festival. Basically, you have to be listening to the stage announcement that we’re tapping a keg, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. These are all rare specialty beers.”

The festival treats its suds sellers well, Shehan explained, in offering them room and board, as well as festival passes, which has made Blues & Brews a must-see event for brew masters. 

“They’re sending head brewers because they’ve been coming here so many years and just love it,” he said, adding that’s not typical for every beer festival; typically, sales rep make the trip in representing breweries.

“It’s definitely one of the OG beer festivals and highly regarded,” he said.

For more information about the festival, visit tellurideblues.com.