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Beerdrinker of the Year must be more than a casual fan

On Saturday afternoon, one of three men will win beer for life at the Wynkoop Brewing Co.

Now, some of you may be asking, will I be the one? Or at least, am I among the three? Sadly, no. I'm not either. Many of us would be delighted beyond belief to win such a prize, but few have shown a complete, wholehearted commitment to beer as a lifestyle.

Consider, though, the finalists for Wynkoop's annual Beerdrinker of the Year awards, set to take place at 2 p.m. Saturday:

Georgia's Phil Farrell says he's tasted beer in every European country, and has spent time in 1,000 pubs and 400 brew pubs around the globe. At home, his basement is equipped with six taps, two refrigerators and a 15-gallong brewing system.

Alaska's William Howell developed curriculum for a college course on the art and history of brewing. He's a home brewer, too.

Logan Perkins counts 5,000 beers tasted in 45 states, 21 European countries and five Asian nations. He might covet the awards' grand prize more than the other three: He lives in Denver, which puts him in much closer proximity to the Wynkoop than either of his opponents.

Perkins would have to pull off a Colorado repeat, though, because last year's winner, Cody Christman, also lives close by -- Golden, specifically.

A judging panel -- including national beer experts and past contest winners -- will grill the finalists at the Wynkoop in lower downtown Denver. If you stop by, you're sure to be entertained. It's also a good time to try a pint of Auld Rabbit, the brown ale brewed by head brewer Andy Brown along with Christman. The chance to create a signature beer is another prize that goes to the winner.

As if that weren't enough beer-related jocularity for a Saturday in the Mile High City, the Vine Street Pub offers a competition of its own at 10 p.m. It's the culmination of what the crew calls Chop Month, when they encourage one another to get creative with the cutting and styling of hairdos, beards and moustaches. There'll be bagpipes, prizes and on-site haircuts, too.

You're best off not asking why; just go and enjoy the last weekend of what's also Stout Month at Vine Street, Boulder's Mountain Sun (which does its version of Chop Month contest at 10 p.m. Sunday) and Southern Sun. They've been serving a top-notch slate of stouts -- their own and guest brews -- all month; see our video report on Stout Month by clicking here.

Dribs and drabs: New Belgium's hoppy treat Mighty Arrow Pale Ale returns as a spring seasonal; the Fort Collins brewer also just launched Ranger IPA, even bigger on the hops scale. The sleek label graphics break from the familiar watercolor style on the core brands. ... Oskar Blues' latest canned creation might be its best: Gubna Imperial IPA, a new seasonal, lands on shelves next week. ... Wonder who has the prime Web domain name "craftbeer.com"? It's Boulder's Brewers Association, the national trade group that represents small, independent brewers. The site is a great source for information on beer styles, brewers and events, with an emphasis on beer-and-food pairings. ... Two Great Divide seasonals have graduated to year-round production: Hoss Rye Lager and Claymore Scotch Ale. Hoss, a German marzen-style lager, won a bronze medal at last year's Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Also new to shelves from the Denver brewer are seasonals Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout and Colette Farmhouse Ale, a Belgian-style saison. ... Speaking of Hoss, it ranks among the Colorado beers that Maxim magazine included in its list of the 25 best new beers in America. Others that rated in the February issue: New Belgium's Hoptober, Oskar Blues' Ten Fidy and Upslope's Pale Ale. ... Odell's outstanding Red Ale is back as a spring seasonal for the second year.

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Jay Dedrick

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