Eco-Living Magazine

Great American Beer Festival – Recap Day 1.5

Posted on the 12 October 2013 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Main.Hall(note: these updates are written quickly in the AMs after large amounts of beer.  They will be updated for grammar and spelling as needed).

I arrived in Denver on Thursday, October 10 to attend my first Great American Beer Festival (GABF).  The GABF has grown extensively since its inception in 1982, and is now the Brewers Association’s largest event.  In addition to tasting beers in the main hall, the week surrounding the festival is filled with meetings, media briefings, and outside events that seek to draw in industry professionals, and beer enthusiasts alike.  I’ve made a few more extensive notes on the events from Friday, which included a Sam Adams Media Brunch, the GABF Media Luncheon, North American Beer Writers Guild (NABWG) Meeting, Denver Rare Beer Tasting, and a leisurely stroll around the conventional hall.  You can also get timely updates by following me on Twitter @RevoSpirits.  (This is also the second incarnation of this, as the first was eaten by the ghost in the machine when I tried to save it.)

Sam Adams Media Brunch
Sam Adams and the Boston Beer Company is now the largest craft brewery by volume, and is no longer the “underdog” fighting against industrial beer (as it portrayed itself in the mid 80′s and 90′s).  As such, Sam Adams, and its Founder and CEO Jim Koch is now taking on a different role: one of mentor.  Most notably, it has done this through its Longshot Program, Sam Adams’ Homebrew contest that selects three winners to have their recipes brewed, packaged, and sold.  This year’s winners include Evanston, Illinois resident Cesar Marron’s Grätzer (a smoked wheat), Tamarac, Florida resident Russ Brunner’s American Stout, and Samuel Adams employee Teresa Bury’s Pineapple IPA (all were great, but a slight preference given to the IPA, which was big and hoppy, but cut with just enough the subtle flavor of pineapple, really a great beer.)

Recently, since 2008, Jim Koch has also developed a small business microlending and coaching program, part of which includes the “Brewing and Business Experienceship,”  which, similar to an extended internship, provides one craft brewer annually with hands-on educational and enrichment experiences that are tailored to the individual brewery’s business needs.  This year’s winner is Colorado-based Brewery Rickoli and owner Rick Abitbol.

GABF Media Lunch
The GABF Media Lunch is an annual event that brings together all beer media into one room to be briefed by the Brewers Association on trends, brews, and other important aspects to the brewing industry.  This years event featured over 430 attendees, the largest collection of beer media in on place ever.  It included a 5-course, 8-beer lunch, pairing some of its latest medal winners with local foods.  Each brewery that had its beers featured was able to provide a few words to the media.  Notably, of interest to readers of this column, most of them discussed the connection they have to their respective communities.  BlueMountain Brewery from Afton Virgina  discussed sourcing its ingredients from local vendors, and Big Wood Brewery from White Bear Lake, Minnesota noted that it got started more as a moral booster for a local lumber company than a real intention to brew.  Additionally, there was one fully organic brewery on the panel, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales from Hood River Oregon.  Those with good eyes can see the menu here.   (Of all the eight  beers, I preferred the Udder Love Milk Stout from Beachwood BBQ Brewing, and Seizoen Bretta from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales.  Of the food, I truly enjoyed the butternut squash  and Poblano chili bisque, which was paired with the Udder Love.)

NABWG and Denver Rare Beer Tasting
As of Thursday, October 10, I am now a member of the North American Beer Writers Guild (NABWG), a collection of beer writers from a number of different mediums.  The group hosted a brief meet up and awards ceremony for outstanding writing over the course of the last year.   This was followed by The Denver Rare Beer Tasting event, presented by All About Beer Magazine, to benefit Pints for Prostates.  The beers were not so much rare, as they were very high in alcohol.  As such, extreme caution had to be exercised.  Of the many that were present, I enjoyed the Sierra Nevada Wolfinanny Wheatwine and the Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb De Balcones (a blended stout with parts aged in rum barrels and parts aged in whiskey barrels.)

The Session Floor (see photo above)
All of the media and special events were small events.  The main session on Friday night is open to the general public and lasts from 5-10.  All 624 breweries and 3100 beers are on display in a large convention center.  Attendees receive a glass for tasting, and each brewery is allowed to pour you 1 oz. of beer per “turn.”  It’s open, so you can go back as much as you want, but ultimately, you will not have more than 1 oz. of beer in your glass at any one time.  Initially, it was not too crowded, although a large number of early birds had been lining up since early afternoon to be first in the door.  Ultimately, with 624 breweries, you cannot try everything, so you really have to go there with a plan of attack, as the more popular breweries such as Russian River from California, and Cigar City from Florida queue up quickly.

The crowd gets very much into it, some dressed in costumes (beer cans/bottles), while other sported  traditional German lederhosen (some sexy, some not).  There was even a group of bagpipers.  The accessory to have, however was a necklace covered in pretzels.

The festival is not all about drinking, there is a book store where beer celebs like Sierra Nevada’s Founder Ken Grossman and Dogfish Head Founder Sam Calagione, and Brooklyn’s Brewmaster Garrett Oliver sign books and pose for photos.  They also have some education, on topics such as “off tasting flavors” and food pairings.

I plan to cruise the hall a bit more on Saturday, as some of the sessions will be a bit less crowded and talking with some of the breweries will be easier.  Again, follow me on Twitter @RevoSpirits for more updates and musings.

RSS Feed

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog