COVID-19 hasn’t completely killed this year’s San Juan Brewfest

by Nick Gonzales

We’re not getting a San Juan Brewfest this year — and for the same reason everything else you were looking forward to in 2020 has been canceled. But you don’t have to go home, er … stay there … well, not without a consolation prize, anyway.

The people who put on the annual San Juan Beerfest beer extravaganza in downtown Durango have organized “Keep Your Spirits Up,” which is the home-based equivalent, said Lynn Urban, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Colorado, the beneficiary of Brewfest.

But instead of joining the usual horde of 3,000 people in Buckley Park, you can participate in this year’s event by going to sanjuanbrewfest.com and buying one of four kits. In addition to a t-shirt and tasting glass — worry not, you collectors — you’ll get a snack and a magazine, and also a certificate for alcoholic beverages you can redeem at Star Liquors at 1485 Florida Road. The four kits offer your choice of light brew (six beers), dark brew (six beers), wine (two bottles), or cocktails (booze and ingredients). They’re $45 each.

“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 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 Colorado creations and beers that are hard to find in the area. There will be specific times during the afternoon of Sept. 5 when patrons can pick up each kind of kit outside the liquor store. The certificates can be redeemed at the same time inside the shop.

And, as with every year, there will be an entertainment component to the event, but this year, as you’ve probably guessed, 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.

Can’t wait for next year’s Brewfest? There’s already a date for it: Aug. 28, 2021. There’s even a countdown on the website. Tickets don’t go on sale until June 1 of next year, but if you buy a Keep Your Spirits Up kit this year and donate an extra $50 to United Way, you’ll get a 10% discount code for the tickets 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.

The nonprofit is busier than ever providing needed services in our communities, especially when it comes to its food, housing, and counseling programs — so if you buy a kit, you can drink knowing that you’re quenching your thirst with delicious beer, while helping the United Way continue its support of those in need.

Nick Gonzales

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