Looking for that ultimate Rocky Mountain high? Head to Alamosa’s Rails & Ales Brewfest, the country’s most unique beer festival. Here are four reasons why you should attend. It’s held the third Saturday in June.
By Tori Peglar
1. There’s a Designated Driver and He’s A Conductor.
Yep. When you board the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad in Alamosa, Colo., bound for Fir Station, the mountain meadow where Rails & Ales Brewfest takes place, you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving. Your designated driver is the train conductor. Just sit back, look out the window and enjoy the gorgeous views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. When you disembark at Fir Station, you’ll find 45 breweries and unlimited sampling awaiting you and your complimentary pint glass. At 3:30 p.m. when the event is winding down, the conductor will blow the train whistle, signaling it is time to board the train. Your two-hour ride back is alcohol-free, allowing you time to hydrate and nap. Note: This is a 21 and over event, so no one under 21 is allowed to attend.
2. The Scenery is Outstanding. So is the Music.
Miles from the parking lots and drab convention centers where many beer festivals are held, you’ll find yourself spending the day on La Veta Pass in a green meadow only accessible by train. At nearly 9,400 feet, the air feels cleaner, the mountains are stunning and even your pints of beer taste better.
“There’s no other beer festival that offers this kind of adventure,” says Scott Graber, co-owner of the San Luis Valley Brewing Co., and the brainchild behind the event that launched in 2007. “It’s a chance to do something totally unique, and we call it a “beer-train adventure” because you have to be ready for whatever the Colorado mountains give you that day.”
As you make your way around to some of the 45 breweries at the festival, take a break to soak in the music scene. A wooden amphitheater houses musicians who keep the crowd inspired with their blend of mountain bluegrass and folk music. You may spot the large solar panels and big wind turbine that powers the amphitheater. Pull out your foldable camping chair and sit down to watch the live music. Or join the others who are dancing footloose and fancy-free near the foot of the stage.
3. You’ll Have the Best Beer Fest Food Ever.
With the Spanish Peaks towering over you, you’ll find yourself in one of the most scenic lunch spots of your life. But your lunch will be just as inspiring. You’ll find BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and Bavarian Gosar sausage served with sauerkraut, potato salad and a brownie. Gosar sausage, for those not in the know, is hand-produced by the local Gosar family north of Monte Vista in the San Luis Valley. Based on recipes handed down from Yugoslavian relatives, the certified organic sausage has no fillers, preservatives, nitrites or additives. It’s made with the leanest meat possible, meaning you are getting the freshest and most tasty meal you may ever have at a beer festival. Lunch is not included in your ticket, so be sure to bring cash.
4. Enjoy Free Snacks and Water on the Way Home
At 3:30 p.m., you and 1,000 other beer enthusiasts will begin loading the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. By the time everyone is on board, it’ll be around 4 p.m. You can pack away your complimentary pint glass since the two-hour train ride back to Alamosa is beer-free. Instead, train staff will give out free snacks and water.
If you want to avoid a headache or hangover, you’ll want to down your fair share of complimentary water. Water is essential to drink after spending a day at altitude and drinking beer, both of which dehydrate you. By the time you arrive in downtown Alamosa to disembark, it’ll be dinner time. Stroll the downtown to dine at a restaurant or enjoy live music at the Rails & Ales After-Party on San Juan Avenue and Main Street.
Note: New this year, the Rails & Ales Block Party (on both Friday and Saturday night) will feature Alamosa's Hydration Station! Here, you can fill up your reusable cup or waterbottle with filtered water, completely for free! You can bring your glass from Rails & Ales, or any other cup you want and stay hydrated, all while helping us keep our events sustainable. Look for the Alamosa Hydration Station at events all summer long!
Share your Rails & Ales Experience with us! Just add #VisitAlamosa when you post!
For More Information:
San Luis Valley Brewing Co.
631 Main St. Alamosa, CO. 81101
https://www.slvbrewco.com/ (click on Rails & Ales)
For tickets to Rails & Ales , go to www.coloradotrain.com or call 877-726-7245.