What an experience this past weekend was. I flew up to Denver on Thursday and was able to spend Friday at the 25th Great American Beer Festival. This was my first experience and it was amazing. As I walked into the Denver convention center I got chills stepping into the Festival. As far as the eye could see were booths and booths of beer. And me standing their with this small little four oz glass, mouth watering in anticipation, my program marked up and ready, folded beneath my arm waiting to act as my guide to the new and untasted.
I'll give some tasting notes in a bit, but just wanted to expound on my little adventure. I went with my fiance (who is from Denver) her sister and her friends. I went with the goal of trying either new beers from brewers that I was familiar with, but had never tasted (think Dogfish head), or breweries I had heard of, but had never tasted any products from (think Russian River which doesn't get distributed to Texas). Lastly I went looking to meet as many people as I could. And that was a success. At the Dogfish Head booth, Sam the man himself was their pouring beers as fast as he could. At the Brooklyn Brewery Mr. Garrett Oliver was standing there. I was able to get just a few minutes of his time to talk to him. Very very nice guy, very down to earth. The last person I met was Maureen Ogle the author of the new book Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. I picked up a copy of her book at the Festival, and she promplty autographed it. She seemed somewhat at ease that everyone wanted a copy of her book and that people had heard such good things about it. Again very nice lady.
Ok on to the tastings. Since the festival is not conducive to true tastings (small pours, beer not at its freshest, inappropriate glass wear, too many different styles and flavors piling up on top of eachother) I will give a list of the beers that I tasted as best as I can remember from my notes. Unless stated otherwise assume that I enjoyed the beers.
21st. Amendment - 21A IPA (HOPPY!!!) and watermelon wheat (amazingly refreshing, not to sweet.
Alaskan Brewing Company - Alaskan Smoked Porter 2005 (awesome, I now know what the fuss is about) and Alaskan Stout.
Allagash - Interlude
Anchor Brewing Company - Foghorn (amazing barley wine, very nice)
Boston Beer Company - Sam Adams Cream Stout
Boulder Beer Co - Mojo IPA (WOW was this amazing, hops zinging the tongue) and Hazed and Confused (even better than the Mojo).
Brewery Ommegang - Three Philosophers Quadruple (amazing malty goodness, this was one of the best quads I ever had).
The Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn Chocolate stout (chocolate covered esspresso beans), Fortitude (amazing), Brooklyn Weisse (bananas, bananas, bananas)
Butte Creek Brewing Company - Organic Revolution X (very nice organic brew).
Deschutes Brewery - Broken Top Bock (amazing) Inversion IPA
Dogfish Head Ale - 90 minute IPA run through Sam's wet hop contraption, Red Ale Cask Ale
Firestone Walker Brewing Co - Firestone Walker "10" (did not enjoy this at all too sickly sweet)
Goose Island Beer Co - Pere Jacques
Healthy Brew - Snowman's Revenge and Wheat Serenity (my fiance really really enjoyed this Texas Organic wheat beer).
He'Brew Beer - Messiah Bold and Bitter Sweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. (this was an amazing very unique rye IPA, great balance of flavors).
Leinenkugel Brewing Company -Cream Dark (very nice, many of my northern friends swear by this beer, now I know why).
Live Oak Brewing Co - Old Treehugger (an ok barley wine).
Odell Brewing Co - Cutthroat Porter (disappointing from a brewer I tend to enjoy)
Pennsylvania Brewing Co - Penn Oktoberfest
Rogue Ales - Brutal Bitter (Oh yes its BRUTAL (in a good way)) and 12PA
Russian River Brewing Co - Supplication (utterly disappointing, wish I had tried some others but they were out of Pliny the elder that I really wanted to try)
Sierra Nevada Brewing CO - Wood Aged Bigfoot Barely Wine (very nice, the oak aging added a whole other experience to this already amazing barleywine)
Snake River Brewing - Zonker Stout and OB-1 Certified Organic Brown Ale
Stone Brewing - Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard (talk about arrogant! this was GREAT) and 10th Anniversary IPA (as close to to much hops as one can get and still love it)
Well that's about it, at least as far as those that I took notes on and that I can remember.
Shout out to local Saint Arnolds Brewing for gathering in another award for its Kolsch style Lawnmower Beer, great job guys!