Real. Western. Beer: The Finer Points of the 2015 Lander Brewfest

Imagine packing up the car for a week-long beer-tasting road trip. (More commonly billed as a river canyon float, a mountain biking adventure, or perhaps visiting the in-laws—naturally accented with regionally crafted beers.) If you are fortunate enough to reside full-time in the Intermountain West, you are most likely aware we are one of the leading regions for the U.S. craft beer industry; the new essential in any outdoorsy mountain town is a pub and signature brew. On-Belay I.P.A., anyone?

The Brewers Association’s official definition of an American craft brewery is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production does not exceed six million barrels of beer (approximately three percent of U.S. annual sales). Independent: At least 75% of the craft brewery is owned / controlled by the craft brewers. Traditional: The majority of beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative ingredients and fermentation.

So how does a beer like “Hoppy Kid Mountain Goat Draft Pale Ale” find it’s human-consumer tribe? Back to that fantasy road trip: If you were to travel to each of the 25 breweries featured in the 2015 Lander Brewfest, you would need two weeks vacation, log about 2500 miles, and sit 40 hours behind the windshield. (Let’s not even mention the additional cost of lodging, food, and kid-sitters.) Here’s the smartest option: On June 12 & 13 come to Lander, Wyoming, and sample over 70 adult beverages being showcased at Lander City Park, personally represented and poured by their loving and enthusiastic creators.

Great Rocky Mountain ports such as: Victor, Idaho; Boulder, Colorado; Belgrade, Montana; Salt Lake City, Utah; Jackson and Laramie, Wyoming, are just a few brew-homes gearing up to represent at this year’s brewfest, bringing wagons of the best beer made in the country. Why come all that way to Lander? It’s not just for the Lawn Game Olympics (though we are pretty sure the brewers will be cleaning up at Beer Trivia.) One of the greatest challenges for craft brewers is getting their products to customers—especially when competing with big-beverage multinationals with mega-budgets in distribution and marketing. Seasonal festivals, especially one as long-running and well attended as the Lander Brewfest, provide smaller beverage outfitters with high-impact, quality on-the-ground marketing and consumer integration. (Plus they genuinely love sharing their art with thousands of thirsty fans.)

But wait. That’s not all. Feel even better about your love of handcrafted beer because there’s a greater cause at work: supporting craft beer is promoting a vibrant economy. Dollars both produced and received by craft breweries create jobs, develop trade skills, attract talented workforce and community members, and increase tax revenues, benefiting niche communities. Secondary markets are also positively impacted by craft breweries including farmers, local producers, augmenting premium events, fundraising, and tourism.

You may even be able to write-off this year’s festival as professional development. The 2015 Lander Brewfest is teaming up with the Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild to host “Brewer’s Corner Classes” where brewers will present a series of informative sessions on beer styles, beer and food pairings, home brewing, and more. Also featured is the “You Be the Beer Judge” table where, like wine tastings, participants can learn more about the qualities and nuances of a fine brew.

Back to that fantasy beer-tasting road trip. Whether you live in Lander, Riverton, Cody, or Seattle—it is worth the walk, drive, or dogsled to caravan to the 2015 Lander Brewfest. Besides two-days of summer festival fun in true western style, there’s new friends and connections to be made, artisanal brewing, and an unprecedented opportunity to muscle-up the gullet for true appreciation of hand-crafted drinkable art.

The 2015 Fremont Toyota Lander Brewfest will be Friday, June 12th from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, June 13th 2-7 p.m. in City Park. Early bird tickets are available online at www.landerbrewfest.com or at event gates both days. This year’s event will feature 70+ brews from 25 breweries from around the Rocky Mountain West as well as live music, food, games, and the Wyoming.com “Golf with the Brewers” 9-hole scramble.