Archives for the month of: October, 2013

Alas, all good things must come to an end.

IMG_0112

We had planned on going to Cheeky Monk for “Breakfast with The Bruery” on Saturday morning, but when we got to the restaurant, the wait was at least an hour and we were starving. So we headed next door to Pete’s Steak House, a traditional small diner with about 10 tables and the only two workers were the cook and the waitress. Although we didn’t get our Belgian beer breakfast, the breakfast we had at Pete’s was excellent and it reminded us of good ‘ole Southern cooking. The service was equally as good which always makes for a more pleasant experience.

After establishing a good base layer of food, it was time for the AHA Members Only session. Day 3 of GABF is split into two sessions and since Nick and Kenneth are AHA members, we chose it over the general night session. However, the only difference I noticed from the previous nights was that we received glass tasters instead of plastic. In any case, still an excellent time.

Even if you think you have visited all the breweries at the fest, you are probably wrong. We spent this session walking around saying, “Oh! How did we miss this one?!” And one of those we had missed was Stone Brewing. We can get a lot of Stone beer at home, but some of their specialty beers we cannot. For example, the Ruination IPA Grapefruit SLAM Edition — freaking fantastic and like a grapefruit punch to the face. I’m always impressed when brewers can accurately nail a flavor/taste. The next notable IPA I had came from Mustang Brewing. It’s notable because when I wrote this post back in May, I never thought I’d be able to try it. Yup, the Hanson Brothers collaboration brew, MMMhops, was served at the fest. I found out later while talking to a brewery rep that Taylor Hanson was there Friday night pouring the beer and I missed it. As a Hanson fan from way back, I was quite upset. Regardless, the beer was delicious.

IMG_0094

mmmhops

Future [unnamed] brewery co-founders/owners

Future [unnamed] brewery co-founders/owners

us gabf

As our session came to an end, none of us wanted to leave. We eventually trudged out, but the day wasn’t over for us just yet. There were three breweries on our list to visit and the night (well, late afternoon) was still young! First on our list was River North Brewery for their “Empty the Cellar” party when all their barrel-aged and limited brews were on tap. We ended up ordering an eight beer flight and I can’t even remember which was my favorite. We also met up with Kenneth’s friend, Tony, and his girlfriend, Amy, who drove down from Fort Collins, before continuing on our brewery crawl.

river north

Up next was Great Divide. I kept it simple and got the Titan IPA — tasty and bitter with that excellent hop aroma just like I like ’em — and Nick got the Hibernation Ale, a delicious roasty English-style Ole Ale. We had just planned on staying for a few beers, but we ended up getting a tour from one of the brewers which ended up being more like trivia for him with the questions Nick and Kenneth were asking him. He joked that they should give the tours. Great Divide is much larger than the breweries I’ve toured at home, so it was fun seeing a large scale system. And by large, I mean large… 80bbl, to be exact.

great divide

Hibernation Ale and Titan IPA

IMG_0158

IMG_0164

Kenneth, Bryan (Great Divide Brewer), and Nick

Our last stop was Crooked Stave, which is housed in this awesome space called, The Source. Long story short, The Source is an old foundry turned marketplace that includes the brewery, a few restaurants, a butcher, and an artisan grocer, among other things. Each section is divided by large, slatted, rising steel doors that label what each area is and it’s all very modern while still retaining the industrial feel of the original structure. And the beers at Crooked Stave were outstanding. They specialize in sour and wild ales, which again, are uncommon in Memphis, so it was definitely a nice change.

IMG_0204

IMG_0198

IMG_0190

St. Bretta Blood Oranges and Hop Savant Dry Hopped with Galaxy

Going back to my original statement, the two words I would use to describe America’s largest beer festival are definitely amazing and overwhelming. Many thanks to Ghost River, Boscos, and Bluff City Brewers for awarding Nick this awesome opportunity, one which I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the chance to tag along. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring back any beer with us for the simple fact that we didn’t want to deal with checked luggage; we did, however, walk away with a bunch of free swag and we purchased a few shirts along the way, too.

gabf swag

Until next time, GABF — at which point, we should already be living in Denver :)

Advertisements

During the week of GABF, restaurants and breweries around the city of Denver host other events outside of the festival. We definitely wanted to hit up some of these so prior to our trip, Nick, Kenneth, and I had a Google hangout to put together a tentative itinerary. And surprisingly, we managed to make it to most of the events we had scheduled.

Our first stop on Friday was Osteria Marco, a trendy Italian restaurant in Larimer Square, that had partnered with Mountain Sun Brewery for a tap takeover. Unfortunately, a couple of the beers  we wanted to have had already kicked and they were waiting on the brewery to deliver more kegs. I ended up having the Vagabond IPA, a tasty American-style IPA, and the guys had the Saison de la Strega, an interesting black saison brewed with basil. Although the beer was good, the food at Osteria Marco is what really blew us away — the menu starts with their house made and imported formaggi and salumi, so you know it’s going to be good! We ended up ordering calamari, a chef’s assortment of cheeses, and a prosciutto pizza topped with arugula, to split among the three of us. It was all molto delizioso, but the calamari was probably the best I’ve ever had — not too fried, topped with greens, and a pepper vinaigrette that gave it just the right amount of spicy.

osteria marco

IMG_0061

IMG_0063

Larimer Square

Our next stop was Colorado’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing. Since we had already eaten, we popped in for a couple drinks before heading to our next destination. I was eager to try their Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, but unfortunately, it was tapped out. So instead, I ordered samplers of their Colorojo Imperial Red Ale, Patty’s Chile Beer, and Mile HIPA. After having my first chile beer last summer, I’ll almost always try it if one’s on the menu. It smelled more peppery than it actually tasted, but it was good.

IMG_0064

My three beer flight

The Anderson Valley Rare Tapping at Falling Rock Taphouse was next on the itinerary and I can see why so many people love that place — with 200+ beers on tap and in bottles, who wouldn’t? Beer list aside, the atmosphere was just great. There’s a nice, large outside patio and when you walk inside, you’re greeted with walls lined with nothing but beer bottles and tap handles. Rare beers consumed here were the Chardonnay barrel-aged Rosy Barl Sour Ale with raspberries and the Horse Tongue Wheat, a Belgian wheat aged in white wine barrels.

IMG_0071

Taps on taps on taps

"99 bottles of beer on the wall..."

“99 bottles of beer on the wall…”

After our day of bar/restaurant hopping, it was finally time for the second night of GABF. Once again, Nick entered early while Kenneth and I shuffled in with the rest of the herd. Even though we had just been there the night before, the shock and awe was still there. We took a more leisurely approach to this night, but this was also the night that Nick’s “Extracurricular Hoptivity” was being served so that was the first section we visited. Even though this version wasn’t the same (read: different hops and not dry-hopped) as the original recipe , it was still exciting to see it being served at the country’s largest beer fest and Nick’s name in the festival program.

"Extracurricular Hoptivity" ; Fal Allen and Kenneth

“Extracurricular Hoptivity” ; Fal Allen and Kenneth

The second highlight of the night came when we visited the Anderson Valley booth. The week before GABF, Kenneth attended Elysian Brewing’s 9th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival where he was able to meet Dick Cantwell, Elysian head brewer and co-author of Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes. Kenneth had the book with him for just that occasion and he was able to get Dick’s signature. Why am I telling you all this? Well, Anderson Valley’s brewmaster, Fal Allen, is the co-author of Barley Wine and Kenneth brought the book with him again in hopes of seeing Fal and getting him to sign the book also. And what do you know! Fal was at his booth and Kenneth was able to have a nice a chat with him and get his signature and a picture with him.

Day 3 is coming tomorrow — cheers!

gabf13 logo

Two words to describe America’s largest beer festival: amazing and overwhelming.

Where do I even begin?

As you know, Nick won the local pro-am competition through Ghost River/Boscos and that is what took us to Denver last week to experience the awesomeness that is the Great American Beer Festival. Nick’s best friend and brewing buddy from college, Kenneth, was able to fly in from Seattle for the fest, so after meeting up with him at the airport Thursday morning, we immediately hopped on a bus to the first brewery on our list.

After navigating Denver’s public transit and Google maps, we finally made it to Copper Kettle. They were having a barrel-aged tap takeover and Nick had read about their award-winning Mexican Chocolate Stout, so we definitely couldn’t pass them up. It’s a smaller brewery/taproom, but they certainly weren’t lacking on beer variety. The bartender was also very friendly and super knowledgeable. The guys choose the tap takeover flight which included a Cabernet Sauvignon Saison, Port Barrel Belgian Dark Strong, Bourbon Barrel Breakfast Stout, Bourbon Barrel Double IPA, and Bourbon Barrel Barleywine. I opted for a traditional flight which included their Mexican Chocolate Stout, Black IPA, Tha Hoppa, Czech Pilsner, and Bavarian Helles. All were delicious, but my favorites were by far the Bourbon Barrel Breakfast Stout and the Mexican Chocolate Stout.

IMG_0001

Copper Kettle Barrel-Aged Flight

Kenneth & Nick

Kenneth and Nick

We checked into the hotel after Copper Kettle, freshened up, then headed to the Denver Convention Center for the first night of GABF. Nick was issued a brewer’s pass and was able to enter the fest early through his special entrance, so Kenneth and I were left to wait in line with the rest of the minions ;) Although the line wrapped all around the building, once the doors opened it was a steady moving line and we were in the building, wristband on, and tasting cup in hand within 15 minutes.

nick cup

Ghost River Brewery Rep ; 2013 GABF Tasting Cup

At this point, I’m pretty sure we hallucinated. Picture this:  about 25 different sections, with each section containing at least 100 beers. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt and any game plan we had come up with about what beers we wanted to try was immediately thrown out the window. Instead, we went section-to-section on one side of an aisle and then repeated on the next side. Also, kudos to anyone who was able to keep track of their tastings with the GABF app — between reading beer descriptions, chatting with brewery reps, taking pictures, and of course, drinking, there was no way that was happening. I remember all the breweries I visited and since the beer list is divided up by brewery, I can pretty much figure out what I did or did not have. With that being said, I vividly remember sampling beers at Trinity Brewing because their sour beers were excellent and sours are few and far between in Memphis. Another excellent I tried this night was ‘the dissident,’ a nice tart brown, from Deschutes Brewery.

Deschutes Brewery tap handles

Deschutes Brewery tap handles

Look at all that sweet lacing!

Look at all that sweet lacing!

We were also able to track down John Palmer, well-known homebrewer and author of brewing books like How to BrewBrewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew, and most recently, Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers. Considering the guys eagerly awaited their pre-ordered copy of Water earlier this month, I’d say they were pretty excited to meet him. Fortunately, we caught him during some down time and he was able to chat with us for a little bit.

Kenneth, John Palmer, and Nick

Kenneth, John Palmer, and Nick

Stay tuned for GABF, Part 2 tomorrow — cheers!