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Tasty seminar topics at the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival

Love beer? Then the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival at Vail Cascade Resort is must-attend event. Check it out..
Love beer? Then the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival at Vail Cascade Resort is must-attend event. Check it out..
Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival

The Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival returns to Vail Cascade Resort next weekend, specifically Jan. 9-11. Click here for an overview of the festival or go to, but here are more specifics about the seminars and sensory workshops taking place…

Cicerone Workshop, Friday, Jan. 9, 8:30 a.m.: Relatively new to the beer scene, the Cicerone Program offers a measurable certification with regard to knowledge of all things beer. This is an in-depth look at a variety of topics in preparation for either the Certified Beer Server Exam available online or the Certified Cicerone Exam offered Friday afternoon. Pat Fahey, Master Cicerone, will be leading the seminar and introducing samples of off-flavor beers to enhance sensory awareness of common flaws. This workshop is open to the public at no charge thanks to the support of All About Beer Magazine.

Certified Cicerone Exam, Friday, 2:30 p.m.: The Certified Cicerone Exam is offered at various times in the United States. Those interested in taking this challenging exam to earn their certification have the opportunity to do so in Vail during Big Beers weekend. To register for the Certified Cicerone Exam, contact Ray Daniels, Director, at presents Winter Seasonals From The Craft Brewers Who Brew Them, Friday, 6:30 p.m.: Julia Herz from the Brewers Association and will moderate a panel of craft brewers who will be presenting their winter seasonals in a blind tasting with the audience, featuring four brewers from across the nation: Omar Ansari of Surly Brewing Co. from Minneapolis, Scott Vaccaro from Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. in Elmsford, N.Y., Jeffrey Green from Very Nice Brewing Co. in Nederland, Colo., and Cory Forster from Dillon Dam Brewery in Dillon, Colo.

Experimental Brewing Seminar - Saisons, Saturday, 9:30 a.m.: Steven Pauwels from Boulevard Brewing Co., Jason Yester from Trinity Brewing Co., Dann Paquette from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, and Bryan Greenhagen from Mystic Brewery share their experiences and perspectives about the saison style of beer and brewing saisons. Each will offer samples of their own products to support the presentation.

Mmmmm! Ahhhhh! Beer In Food: Cooking With The Best ingredient In Your Kitchen, Saturday at noon: Ginger Johnson, founder of Women Enjoying Beer, will discuss craft beer in the kitchen (specifically, cooking with it), sharing tasty examples of what can be done. Johnson leads off the Sensory Workshop track of seminars for the afternoon.

Quality, Consistency & the House of Funk, Saturday at noon: The Technical Track of seminars begins with Gwen Conley from Lost Abbey Brewing Co. offering sage advice about Quality, Consistency & the House of Funk. Dealing primarily with quality control in the presence of wild yeast, Conley has considerable experience and perspective from which to speak.

Featured Brewmasters’ Seminars, Saturday at noon and 1:15 p.m., with Cam O'Connor & Scott Vaccaro: Cam O’Connor from Deschutes Brewing Co. and Scott Vaccaro from Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., the 2014 Featured Brewmasters, will co-host these two seminars, working with the art and science of blending barrel aged beers. Although some of the content will be more technical, any level of participant will be intrigued by this topic.

Exploring Malt: Color, Aroma & Flavor, Saturday, 1:15 p.m.: John Holl, editor of All About Beer Magazine, will break the beers down to their malt component and lead the discussion about the role that malt plays in the finished product. Joining him will be John Mallet from Bell’s Brewery , Will Meyers from Cambridge Brewing Co., and Tim Matthews from Oskar Blues Brewing Co.

Brewing with Brettanomyces, Saturday, 1:15 p.m.: Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project puts a wrap on the Technical Track with perhaps the most advanced seminar of the weekend, “Brewing with Brettanomyces,” an extremely popular topic among brewers and the subject of the dissertation for his masters degree in brewing and distilling.

All attendees with a ticket for the Commercial Tasting on Saturday afternoon can attend these seminars on a general admission basis. This means that those who have purchased a reserved seat for the seminar, VIP Pass holders and media are seated first, and then remaining seats and standing room are fair game for those with a Commercial Tasting ticket. To purchase a reserved seat to one of the seminars, the Purchase Tickets page of the Big Beers Festival website ( offers seats for $10, while the Seminars page gives a more thorough description of the seminar and its host.

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