Pouring Beer in Thundersnow and Lightning

Pouring Beer in Thundersnow and Lightning

If someone by chance actually follows along with this blog, I try to make a point of saying how much I love pouring at beer festivals. We’re coming up on nearly a year from one that was pretty extreme, and after finding the draft, I had to doctor it up and share. The story centers around a simple question many of us probably find ourselves asking from time to time: “It can’t get any worse, right?” This was the million dollar question for a single day, each time answered by a pissed off Mother Nature with a resounding “Yep, it can you fucktards!”

Upon my arrival to Arapahoe Basin that chilly May morning, I knew I would be in for some kind of treat. The weather six thousand feet below us in Denver was a balmy 60 degrees, so I drove up in a sweatshirt, jeans and running shoes. That weather did not travel up with me. One of my co-pourers had already fitted herself with a garbage bag outer shell over her sweatshirt, and was working on some trash bag boots. Someone else didn’t have mittens and sprinted off to the ski shop to buy a pair. Clearly none of us had been in the Boy Scouts.


A light snow started gently falling from the gray sky as the call sounded to start the festival. “It can’t get any worse, right?” No, not possible. Let’s pour some beer, check some wristbands and then drink some beers, yes? Fuck yes.


Half an hour later, we start to hear a slight tapping on the canvas above us. The light snow had morphed into hail. “Well, now it can’t get any worse, right?” The pouring continued and the crowd continued to thicken like a fine sauce. I looked up at some point to fix a hanging sign and noticed our tent was bulging inward at a few crucial areas due to the snow/hail it was collecting. How joyfully unexpected!

Suddenly, as we were preparing to unload our overburdened tent for the dozenth time, sleet blasted us from the sky. “OK ok ok. It can’t get any worse, right? …Right?” We didn’t even have time for another surprise catastrophe to happen before we heard it: BOOM! Thunder and lightning torched the sky and shut down every lift on the mountain. To quote Lewis Black, “When you look out a window, you have an expectation. And it isn’t snow with lightning behind it.” Very similar to Mr. Black’s theoretical window, the same expectation can be said for pouring beer at a festival. Especially when the weather was predicted to be 50 degrees.

The sudden appearance of Thundersnow forced everyone off the slopes, and suddenly we were in the midst of a full fledged cluster fuck festival. I loved it. Beforehand, it was pretty standard. We were instructed on how to identify an intoxicated person, and were strongly encouraged to check for wristbands and ensure everyone was drinking out of their issued pink plastic mug (an interesting choice, even in my opinion). a-basin-festival-crowd

Even without the sun, the scenery was pretty amazing. We were surrounded by snow capped mountains and the rustic feel of A-Basin’s lodge. A badass bluegrass band pumped out tunes for us to drink/dance to, and hundreds of people in full snow gear roamed the pavilion sampling the various Colorado beers.

Even though this wasn’t my first rodeo, I still managed to make a major discovery: serving beer from cans is the most efficient way to drink while pouring samples. It just happened that the shitty plastic mugs fit about 10 ounces of beer, thus leaving 2 ounces left in a can. These remnants are completely useless to the patrons, and I was more than happy to finish it off. What can I say? I’m a helper. A problem solver. A fixer, of sorts.

I did manage to take a few breaks to sample some of the other beers. The highlight was a chile pale ale from the Dillon Dam Brewery. Had all the flavor of chile flesh, and little to no burn (For an example of what happens when you drain a chile beer that still has the heat, watch this). I also fed the monkey on my back that had been craving some Apis IV from Elevation Brewing Co. I think some Wynkoop beer found its way in my mouth too but who can really remember?

The moral of the story, which is a stretch in the use of the word, is don’t ever ask “Can this get any worse?” because the answer is usually, “Yes, here’s some more snow/hail/sleet sprinkled on top with some thunder and lightning.” Oh, and beer festivals in the Mountains in May can be one hell of an awesome experience. I definitely recommend it. 

Toughest fucking festival crew I’ve poured with. We took #rain, #hail and #thundersnow all in stride.

A photo posted by Samuel Sly (@samsly) on

Samuel Sly
Written by Samuel Sly

Homeboy seemingly came out of nowhere. Michigan? Colorado? Truth be told, no one knows where this motherfucker came from. Rumor has it he dwells in Denver and drinks ram piss.

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