Big Beers benefit Vail valley charitable fund

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 16, 2011 9:32 am

This year, the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival added to the lineup of events with a new “Fireside Lounge” tasting event in conjunction with the Vail Cascade Resort-with proceeds benefiting the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. The festival, held at the Vail Cascade Resort in January, has donated to the charity for the past ten years, and this new option for attendees continued that tradition. Completing the fund raising efforts, a check was presented by Laura Lodge, event organizer of the Big Beers Festival on behalf of the Vail Cascade Resort to Karen Simon of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund on Tuesday, March 15.

Formed in 1996 as a Colorado non-profit organization, the Vail Valley Charitable Fund’s goal is to provide assistance to locals who are facing a medical hardship as the result of a medical crisis or long-term illness. They do so by raising funds through events, grants and donations and by raising community awareness to help those in need.

Laura Lodge summed up the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines event by saying, “The Fireside program is challenging for both me and Bill (founder of Big Beers), yet generates an amazing amount of enthusiasm and is incredibly rewarding. It is an example of people coming together, sharing a passion and educating all participants. It’s truly a magical event that I hope will continue to highlight all that the festival offers from new, rare and exceptional beers, to a great cause like the VVCF.”

“This is such a generous gift from the festival, and significantly affects the work we can do for locals in need. I can’t believe how hard the Big Beers team, with no pay for their efforts, work on this amazing event every year,” stated Simon.

This year, Big Beers decided to add a new event to the weekend lineup to further support the charity and to offer a rare opportunity to try beers directly from the breweries, which often are not available outside their tasting room. All of the beer was donated, fully supporting the charitable nature with twenty-eight breweries providing either a five gallon keg or a case of beer from their portfolio. Guests were amazed at the intimate opportunity, often finding themselves elbow to elbow with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Company, Steven Pauwels of Boulevard Brewing Company and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing Company-as well as many other international industry celebrities.

“Most of these products were new to the staff and to the guests attending the festival, and in some cases the beers aren’t available anywhere but the brewery’s own tasting room, so we worked hard to make sure that everyone was aware of the flavors, ingredients, styles, and other pertinent information for each product. It’s part of the reason that the Big Beers Festival is clearly a step above and a class apart from your average beer festival. Picture it: white tablecloths, celebrity Brewmasters and industry veterans….it really is the premiere educational tasting event,” emphasized event organizer Laura Lodge.

Some useful facts:

· The Fireside program is open to everyone: non-festival attendees, Vail Cascade Resort guests, Vail residents, etc.

· The beers have a wide range of styles, with ample information for those unfamiliar with a particular beer.

· The preliminary elements of this program came together for the 10th anniversary when nineteen breweries created a new beer in honor of the festival’s anniversary-considered a huge accolade.

For more information on the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival, visit Information regarding the VVCF is located at and for more information on Vail Cascade Resort, go to