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

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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.

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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.

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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!