Don’t let the name fool you, Steamboat’s annual OktoberWest is actually in the month of September. September 19-20, 2014, to be exact. But just like the raucous Oktoberfest in Munich that’s been going on for over 200 years, this party starts in September. Although we had no hand in THAT decision in Germany so many moons ago, we’re glad that the worldwide celebration of outdoor beer drinking starts in September, because September happens to be a fantastic month to visit Steamboat Springs.

OktoberWest in Steamboat

Don’t tell our winter visitors, but, in my humble opinion, it’s actually the best month of the entire year. The days are still sunny and beautiful with a tinge of crisp fall air in the mornings and evenings - it’s the perfect excuse for cuddling up at an outdoor fire pit on many of the outdoor restaurant decks in Steamboat. The trees begin to take on their fall yellow hue, and day hikes begin to crunch under your feet with the sound of walking on fallen leaves. There’s still plenty going on around town, but it’s just a smidge quieter during the week with kids back in their school routines. It’s easier to snag a seat at a favorite eatery or a room in a posh hotel at a lesser price than during the high season.

And then the wonderful merchants at the base of Steamboat Ski Resort put on OktoberWest every September, making it even more tempting to enjoy a trip to Steamboat before we’re blanketed in feet of Champagne Powder ®.

The weekend begins on Friday, Sept. 19 for the Suds N Grub downtown pub crawl. Sixteen of Steamboat’s best restaurants will be pouring guest brews for the night as their tap handles make room for some tasty small batch crafts. Pair a little sushi bite with an Amputator IPA from Butcherknife Brewery at Sake2u on the river, or wash down some spicy wings with a Morning Wood Wheat at the Old Town Pub. You’ll get the full list of beers and treats at the pre-party that starts at 5 p.m. Just saunter on in to the Chief Theater downtown to purchase your beer tokens and grab your map, tasting mug and master brewing marching orders. Then wind your way along the river and through downtown enjoying hops at all the stops.

The main event is on Saturday afternoon from 2 to 6 p.m. The festival is along Burgess Creek at the base of the ski area. Conveniently located right next to the Gondola Adventure Zone perfect for those of us with an under 21 entourage (aka kids) who want to bungee jump, do a ropes course, play in Water Walkerz, or ride a mechanical bull while the festival fun is going on.

And who would want to miss the Grammy nominated performer, Shemekia Copeland rocking out on the Gondola Square stage? She’s got some amazing blues to go with our Colorado brews! The concert is free for all. Entrance to the beer garden and culinary tent is $37 in advance, $40 at the door. And if you buy a gondola ride, tickets to the kids Coca-Cola adventure zone are half price. The beer garden has over 30 Colorado breweries coming and the culinary tent hosts an I Love Beef cook-off and culinary competition between favorite local restaurants, with creations perfectly paired for an afternoon of beer drinking, blues listening and sunshine soaking fun.

So get your Steamboat OktoberWest weekend booked, as we say in the 'Boat, come for the beer and stay for the cheer.