This past weekend’s Big Beer Festival (Jan. 9-11) in Vail was heady with the aroma of Belgian and barley-style beers and the bristle of facial hair (follow this link for a rundown of the best food and beer pairings at the festival). Brewmasters from the nation's best brew pubs, tasting rooms and breweries gathered for the 7th annual event. Every turn of the head revealed bearded men pulling some of the country’s most creative craft beers. Little did they know, they have helped define an American subculture.
“The beard, until recently the scruffy fashion statement of the plaid-shirt-and-craft-beer creative underclass, has lately been institutionalized, co-opted by The Man not only in the form of pinstripe-clad Beltway insiders, but by Wall Street titans, professional sports golden boys, Us Weekly cover boys and morning-show television hosts,” wrote Alex Williams of the New York Times on Jan. 8, 2014. Even White House press secretary Jay Carney sported a beard at the first press conference of the year.
In New York, they call it the “Brooklyn Beard,” craft beer makers call them “Mighty Beards. As mighty and bold as the brews their wearers create,” says Jason Morgan of Craft Brewing Business (CBB). The fuzzy facial hair trend has become so prolific, Rogue Beer introduced a Beard Beer made from the yeast created from Brewmaster John Maier’s Beard. Yes, from his beard. The yeast likely found a hospitable home in his old growth beard (not cut since 1983) that has witnessed more than 15,000 brews.
In March 2013, Morgan and the CBB collected the finest beards in beer making for an online contest. Scott Witsoe of Wit’s End Brewing Company in Denver placed second on the CBB competition and he is on this Big Beer Fest list. In our list, you will see the beards paired up their beers. Leave a comment about your favorite beers and beards from Big Beer Fest.