Bad news: the San Juan Brew Fest is canceled this year thanks to COVID-19. Good news: You can still celebrate it, just a bit more privately than usual.
In lieu of the Brewfest and it’s massive crowd, the organizers of the annual downtown Durango beer extravaganza have organized “Keep Your Spirits Up,” the home-based equivalent, said Lynn Urban, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Colorado, the beneficiary of Brewfest.
Instead of joining the usual horde of 3,000 people in Buckley Park, would-be attendees can participate in this years event by going to sanjuanbrewfest.com and buying one of four kits. In addition to a collectible t-shirt and tasting glass, a snack and a magazine, each $45 kit comes with a certificate for alcoholic beverages redeemable at Star Liquors at 1485 Florida Road. The four kits are: light brew (six beers), dark brew (six beers), wine (two bottles), and cocktail (booze and ingredients).
“We said, ‘Well, hey, as long as we’re making kits, why don’t we open it up and have a wine kit and a cocktail kit as well,’ because every year we have some attendees at Brewfest who request other options other than beer,” Urban said, “and so we thought this year we could actually do that.”
The specifics are still being worked out, she said, but the beers in the kits will be some combination of ones that are hard to find in the area and Colorado creations. There will be specific times during the afternoon of Sept. 5 for picking up each kind of kit outside the liquor store, and the certificates can be redeemed immediately inside the shop.
As with every year, there will be an entertainment component to the event. But this year, it will be online. The details for that are also still in development, but Urban said it will involve at least one local Brewfest celebrity, and will feature educational components from the brewers for drinkers who like to know how the beers in their hands were made.
There’s already a date for next year’s Brewfest: Aug. 28, 2021. A countdown can be found on the Brewfest’s website. Tickets don’t go on sale until June 1 of next year, but donating an extra $50 to United Way while buying a Keep Your Spirits Up kit this year will yield a 10% discount code for them (and a San Juan Brewfest cap).
United Way of Southwest Colorado, which works to improve the health, education, and financial stability of those in need, typically generates about $50,000 through each brewfest, Urban said. This year, the organization hopes to make $10,000 between kit sales and sponsorships.