Raise a glass to OktoberWest this weekend in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Raise a glass to OktoberWest this weekend in Steamboat

Stephanie Piontek, left, and Jill Piontek, sport dirndls from Germany in preparation for the weekend’s OktoberWest event.
Jennifer Grathwohl/courtesy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — All the ingredients to an excellent weekend have been assembled, and a good time for all is brewing. Steamboat Springs’ 11th annual OktoberWest event is nearly here.

Beer Stroll

OktoberWest will be tapped Friday afternoon with a beer stroll downtown. The stroll is hosted by more than a dozen participating restaurants, each of which offer two specialty beers on tap, and organized by Steamboat’s Young Professionals Network. Don’t forget to pick up your tasting mug at one of the OktoberWest preparties:

  • 2 to 3:30 p.m. Friday at Brau Haus, 2500 Village Drive, with traditional Oktoberfest festivities and a happy hour.
  • 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Chief Theater, 813 Lincoln Ave., just before the start of the Beer Stroll.
  • 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Gondola Square, 2305 Mount Werner Circle, where guests are encouraged to pick their items up early. 
If you go

What: OktoberWest Beer Stroll
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13
Where: various restaurants; downtown Steamboat Springs
Tickets: steamboatoktoberwest.com/tickets

Beef Cook-off and Beer Garden

It’s the ultimate beef and beer pairing extravaganza. On Saturday, at Gondola Square, local Steamboat chefs will be cooking up their most scrumptious beef dishes in a hearty competition for attendees’ best-beef-in-town votes, bragging rights and gift cards. Cook-off winners will be announced at 5:30 p.m. 

To wash it all down, more than 40 brewers will offer tastings of two beers each.

“The brewers love this event,” event manager Jennifer Grathwohl said. “They really enjoy being up here in the mountains.” 

A Beer Stein Holding Contest also joins Steamboat’s OktoberWest event for the first time. 

Topping off the smorgasbord of fun is Nashville-based, six-piece band Waker, providing rock-soul-dance-party tunes from Gondola Square stage. Learn more about Waker when Explore Steamboat sits down for a Q & A with co-founder Chase Bader below.

Grathwohl notes that the event is family-friendly, featuring a pretzel necklace making booth for kids, as well as the creek open for water play. For those who aren’t drinking or sampling beef, no tickets are necessary. 

Restaurants in the I Love Beef Cook-off

  • The Laundry
  • E3 Chophouse
  • Salt & Lime
  • Casey’s Pond
  • McKnight’s Irish Pub
  • Snow Bowl
  • Timber and Torch
  • The Cabin
  • Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill
If you go

What: Beef Cook-off and Beer Garden
When: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14
Where: Gondola Square, 2305 Mount Werner Circle

Hops & Hockey VIP Beer Pairing Dinner

The Hops and Hockey VIP beer pairing dinner at Timber and Torch wraps up Steamboat’s OktoberWest weekend. All profits from the dinner benefit Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association and Mountain Village Partnership.

Eats by Timber and Torch will be paired with beer by Crystal Springs Brewing, Verboten, Horse and Dragon, Loveland Ale Works and Ratio Aleworks. A live auction includes items such as a trip to Cortina, Italy, and a private helicopter ride. Attendees will have the chance to mingle with professional NHL and NWHL athletes, as well as several brewers. 

Set to attend the Hops & Hockey NHL/NWHL players

  • Brian Boucher
  • Bryan Berard
  • Jason Woolley
  • Jose Charbonneau
  • Lorne Knauft
  • Matt Jarrett
  • Steve King
  • Dani Rylan
  • Erika Lawler
  • Hayley Moore
  • Sadie Lundquist
If you go

What: Hops & Hockey VIP Beer Pairing Dinner
When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14
Where: Timber and Torch, 2305 Mount Werner Circle

Waker features, from left, Alex Mathews on saxophone, Ryan Ladd on bass, Dave Czuba on drums, Chase Bader on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Conor Kelly on lead guitar and BGVs, and Ryan McClanahan on percussion.
Madeline Car/courtesy

Meet Waker’s Chase Bader

Explore Steamboat chatted with Waker’s co-founder, lead vocalist/acoustic guitarist Chase Bader to hear more about the band and what OktoberWesters can expect at Saturday’s show. 

Explore Steamboat: Waker has said that its intention is to “wake people” with your music. What does that mean exactly, and how do you guys do that?

CB: When we were still playing as “Koa” — the first incarnation of the band — people would come up to us and say “you really woke the crowd up out there.” When we were deciding to change the band name, that was a theme that kept coming up, so we were thinking how we put that ethos into the name. A lot of our music is upbeat and has that youthful energy. I think one of our biggest goals is to get people involved and connect with them — there’s a lot of participation, whether it’s “clap your hands,” or just getting up and moving, and feeling less disconnected. 

ES: Waker began as far back as 2003, when you and Conor (Kelly, Waker’s electric guitarist) were fifth graders in Colorado. Did you guys always have confidence that you’d “make it” as musicians? 

CB: Conor and I met in fifth grade at Catholic middle school, which is hilarious to think about now. We became quick friends, and at the same time, I was learning drums, and he was learning guitar. We started exploring how to put music together. 

High school is when we started taking it more seriously. It took a little bit of time. But there’s always been the goal: “One day, we’ll headline Red Rocks.” Those kinds of goals — they never go away. As we’ve moved forward and put the band together and seen what we’ve accomplished, that goal feels more and more possible. It doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it might have in the beginning. 

People weren’t really taking us seriously as high schoolers. We had friends who were supportive, and it’s so fun having them see us now because it’s so much better. 

ES: Waker has played all kinds of events, music festivals, well-known theaters and studios. Is there one kind of venue that Waker especially enjoys or feels at home at? 

CB: We love playing in Colorado. That’s always been a homecoming for us, in a way. 

We’ve loved playing at Bonnaroo, a few summers ago — that was a huge goal for us and right in our backyard in Nashville. In March, we opened for one of our favorite bands, Ripe, out of Boston, in the Bluebird in Denver, at a sold-out show. We love coming up to Steamboat; we’ve always had really good shows at Schmiggity’s.

ES: Waker’s first music video, “Pike,” was filmed at 14,115 feet at the summit of Pike’s Peak. What was that experience like, and how did you pull it off? 

CB: That’s a funny story. The original idea was to go up there and shoot the process, but then we thought we’d one-up it. Our buddy who was playing keys at the time has a real Hammond organ, which is super heavy. You’re not allowed to bring trailers up there, so we rented a Home Depot van. We brought our buddy along to shoot the video. We wanted to make it sort of a travel video, to capture that fun energy that we have when we’re on the road. 

It was like 80, 85 degrees down below at the exit; when we got to the summit, it was like 30 degrees, with 25 miles an hour winds. It was cool that people were stopping and listening 

On the way down, a couple guys got stranded in the Home Depot van on the highway for a few hours. I guess that was part of the experience. 

ES: Speaking of that fun road energy — when you guys are touring in a new city or town, how do you like to explore that place? 

CB: All of us really enjoy eating. That’s the first thing that jumps out when we’re traveling to a new city. We like finding off the beaten path food places. We try to squeeze as much into the day as you can; most of the time, we’re only in a place for a few hours, so we try to use our time wisely. 

ES: For someone who hasn’t heard Waker’s music before, what three songs would you recommend they listen to to get a feel for it?

CB: 1. Already on the Ground — It’s new. It sort of features what the energy and sound of our potential inevitable record will be 2. Lover — It’s a fan favorite; where the band has come from, features some sort of signature Waker sounds, like the sax/guitar harmonies and upbeat feel 3. Pike — a little jammier, a little more rock n roll, that upbeat, really Waker feel that makes people get up and have a good time.

ES: What’s coming up for Waker that you’re excited for? 

CB: We’re pumped about being back out West, and some shows on the East Coast and being back out on the road. We’re basically done with the record, so figuring out what that looks like. We’ll have a lot of new music coming out at the end of this year and into next year; that’s really exciting for us. It’s been a lot of work, and we’re ready for people to hear what we’ve been up to this whole time. 

ES: Since you guys are playing at OktoberWest — does the band have a favorite beer, or is there a beer that pairs especially well with Waker’s music? 

CB: Everyone’s a little different in terms of what they like. Our keyboarder is more into the stouts and porters, or a nice crisp Hef; myself, I like a lot of bitter, citrus IPAs. To pair Waker with — something that’s kind of complex — maybe with a little rye in there, a little sweetness. We’re a band that has a lot of styles of music that go on during different parts of the set. Especially because we’re on the up and up, a lot of times we’re experiencing people coming to shows that haven’t heard us before, and we’re always exceeding people’s expectations, so a beer that exceeds your expectations — so a beer with a little mystery, maybe, that’s what we are.

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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