Mixing Business, Browns, and Booze in Breckenridge

Back when I was in the business of biotech I went to conferences in fancy places with big pharma and big hopes of trading innovations for dollars to support scientists back in the heartland. That crowd wore suits. They were not our people, but we did enjoy the urban adventuring.

Then we changed up the paradigm and found a new type of business conference—the Colorado type. It is far more casual and involves much better conversations between sessions. At the end of the day, intentionally early, everyone splits off for the hike, bike, fishing session before reconvening for the craft brews and spirit sessions. This is a good kind of people, our people.

A business trip to Breckenridge last month had the perfect mix of Blue River, brown trout, and local beverages. Other years the timing of this conference has been smack in the middle of stream blowout season, with high water flooding out our favorite running path and hopes of catching anything in the town zone. This year’s melt came a little earlier and the conference a little later. The Blue was clear and contained in its banks.

I had never fished under an interstate before. I have spent a lot of time on I-70 this year, having driven it pretty much end-to-end, but this time I was wading the river beneath a bridge in Silverthorne on our way to Breck. Talk about urban adventures, tail-water fishing under a rumbling bridge is not the typical peaceful experience. It was, however, unique and fun. Wild iris, roses, and cinquefoil lined the banks on the side we strolled, giving it a confusing mix of nature and exhaust fumes. There may be monster trout in that stretch. We did not find them.


More to our liking, the Blue in Breck became our pre-breakfast muse. As other attendees ran the fun 5K or went for an early bike ride, we jumped into the truck to secure a stretch of river for an hour of hoping and staring into the drops. Twice I had the pleasure of bringing a brown trout out of the current and into my net. And twice I found my hands very cold after returning the speckled buddies back to their home. Conferences in mountain towns have brisk mornings. The little rainbow I pulled out of the pond downtown wasn’t nearly as cold, or as pretty, but equally appreciated.

d750_06232017-1194To be clear, I was not a participant in the actual work of conference attendance—it was municipal law and I’m more of an intellectual property lawyer (i.e. nerd). I was pit crew. Part of my job was ensuring proper hydration. In Breck, that involves a place we have held in high esteem for a few years, and a place we were overdue for a second sniff, sip, and tour experience. We went to the Breckenridge Distillery tasting room the first year we attended the conference. At the time, their bourbon was still aging and my take-away was a brief obsession with their fantastic bitters. That ended after an unfortunate experience driving through Kansas with a stomach bug that happened to co-mingle with the hooch choice. Based on last month’s experience, it would be hard to settle on a favorite craft spirit from their selection. And, although I admit I am a geek about this form of chemistry and microbiology, the free tour is a blast. What’s not to love about giant copper stills? And, their bourbon has aged beautifully.

The other choice for proper hydration, other than delicious mountain water via the city supply, is Broken Compass Brewery. We found this place at a moment our palettes were ready for barrel-aged, bourbon infused, funky good brews. It may be Broken Compass’s fault we have become beer snobs. After a wonderful hike up Iowa Hill, while discussing the finer points of the update on municipal regulation of drones, we went straight to our Breck beer stop. They’ve expanded their tasting room and deck, making for an even better experience. The beers were delicious as usual. You can be sure that some came home with us.

The last morning of the conference I did all my pit crew tasks—loading the truck, checking out, filling the growlers—and then I drove the short distance to where the Blue River becomes Dillon Reservoir. This was a beautiful stretch of mountain river gushing over polished, pound rocks yielding to the lazy life of lake. I fished both extremes, caught nothing. It was solitude. And, it was a perfect end to our Blue River sampler. Well, that and a stop on the way home at Woody Creek Distillery.

The Blue River in transition to reservoir pace.


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