Alas, all good things must come to an end.

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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.

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mmmhops

Future [unnamed] brewery co-founders/owners

Future [unnamed] brewery co-founders/owners

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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.

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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.

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Hibernation Ale and Titan IPA

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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.

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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 :)

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