Toughing It Out At Telluride's Blues And Brews Festival

by Emily Brendler Shoff


The Telluride Blues and Brews Festival always falls at the time of year when anything can happen weather-wise. It can be sunny and 70, or it can be snowing. This weekend was both. Soaking up the sun after the snow

Saturday, it rained and snowed so hard that even long-time locals were questioning why they call Telluride home. At the beer tasting, people were dressed in every imaginable combination they could think of to stay warm. Those who’d thought to bring rain jackets and rain paints were the happiest but equally happy were those in trash bags, snap-up Carhartt suits, and polypro onesies. I even saw one guy wearing his ski clothes, including ski boots.

The weather didn’t seem to dampen people’s appreciation for the beer or the music. If anything, it just added another layer of appreciation. People discussed others’ outfits as much as they discussed the beer.

My rubber xtra-tuf rain boots from my Alaska NOLS trip in 1994 got the same amount of praise as I imagine the latest handbags do in New York.

One guy actually touched my arm as if I were an angel. “Where did you get those?!”

Drinking beer in weather like this takes some coming around to but once you fall into it, it can be amazing. I found myself sampling beers that I would never buy—stouts, IPA's, extra pale ales. The cold brought out a new beer drinker in me.

One of my favorites was the Uinta Wyld Extra Pale Ale out of Salt Lake City. Perhaps though, I already loved the brewery when I saw their slogan. Hard not to enjoy a beer from a company whose label reads “earth wind beer”.

Denver’s Great Divide Stout was another favorite. It was thick and hearty, more like eating freshly baked bread than drinking beer—just what you want when you’ve only been outside for half an hour and your hands are as dead and as raw as a skinned animal.

Climbing High at Blues and Brews Sunday was the complete opposite weather-wise. Fresh snow lingered on the peaks from Saturday’s storm, creating the perfect backdrop to a blue velvet sky. I spent all day outside. My two little girls had a fabulous time going up and down the climbing wall and in and out of the bouncy castles while I caught up with friends and enjoyed great performers like Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and the Robert Cray Band.

And then as quickly as it had started, it came to a close. The sun sank lower into the mountains casting an alpenglow over Ajax, and Willie Nelson sang songs about America and heartbreak and falling in and out of love. His voice still sounded as though there were a direct pipe running up from his heart. It was the perfect close for a town that loves its music as much as its mountains. And the perfect close to a weekend whose weather flip-flopped. Everything ended with a sunset and a star rising over a clear evening sky. Willie Playing Good Morning America

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