Before I get into the meat of this post, I have to say that I am a lucky lucky man. For my first wedding anniversary, what did my wife do? She flew us to Denver, and got me tickets to Saturday's GABF session! How awesome is that? An amazing woman if I do say so myself.
Yes I got to go to GABF, my second time to go, and it was a blast! I got to taste a lot of beers that we don't get down here in Houston and even visited the booths of Real Ale, Southern Star, and Saint Arnold's. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Texas had a couple of winners too. Below is a list of some of the breweries I visited, some of the beers I tasted and a few of them have some notes as well. The notes are my quick impressions since the 1 oz pour we get is not nearly enough to make a strong judgement on a beer (plus your palate gets saturated with all those different beers).
Firestone Walker - Tried their amazing double barrel ale.
Shmaltz Brewing - Had their RIPA which was sweet malts and very hoppy, very good.
- Jewbilation 12 Anniversary ale. This was pretty cool beer as it had 12 hop varieties, 12 Malts and 12 percent alcohol to celebrate Shmaltz's 12th anniversary. This was a dark rich creamy ale. My wife noted that this would be awesome with some vanilla ice cream.
Portsmouth Brewing - Had their Kolsch (not impressed), and oatmeal stout.
Six Point Brewing - Double Belgian IPA was hoppy and malty, very well balanced, very good brew from this New York brewery.
Pelican Pub and Brewery - Doryman's Dark.
Walking Man Brewing - I had their Awesome Stumblefoot Barley wine. The name's appropriate, too many of these and you would be stumbling.
Weyerbacher Brewing - Imperial Pumpkin Ale. This was one of the best pumpkin beer's I've had and hides its 8% abv very well. The other beer I got to have was their rich, complex 13th anniversary ale. Very tasty although the alcohol level was definitely apparent.
Troegs - I was really excited to try this brewery as I've heard so much about their dopplebock. Everything I've heard was well founded. this thing way rich and smooth, really hid the 8.2% abv. This was a beer I could drink all night. Also tried their Scratch 14 Saison which was very good as well.
Carter's Brewing - Tried their Saison and De Railed IPA. Neither of which impressed me.
New Belgium - Yeah I know we get most of their brews, but what we don't get is their Eric's Ale which was probably one of the best sour beers I've ever had.
Dillon Dam Brewery - Some really good beers, that I forgot to write down!
Fort Collins Brewery - I've had a few of their beers before but this was the first time to try their Doplebock Rauchbier. In one word: amazing. In a few more, this had all the chewy sweetness of a dopplebock with a back bone of smokiness.
Grand Teton Brewing - I had their XX Bitch Creek which was thick, and syrupy, and hoppy. I couldn't have a bunch of these but the little that I did have was really good, complex. A great sipping in front of the fire beer.
Barley Brothers - Double Espresso Stout. This was one of my favorite beers I had at the festival. Incredibly rich and complex, it was like drinking an espresso shot so rich and creamy.
Lakefront Brewery - I tried their very rich and smooth Octoberfest.
Jolly Pumpkin - Hmm sour ales. I had the La Roja which was sour and tart, extremely well done from the brewery that's an expert on the style. Also had their Oro de Calabaza.
Goose Island - Very solid Saison, and the Matilda which is their version of a Belgian Strong ale. An interesting beer as it was also extremely malty.
Flossmoor Station - I had a beer called the CollabEvil which was a collaborative beer and weighed in at 10% abv.
Boulevard - Again I know that we get a lot of their beers here, but for whatever reason I haven't seen any of their special Smokestack series down in Houston so that's what I went too. They had two version of their Saison. One made traditionally, the other infected with Brett. This was a really interested study to do the side by side's to see the impact that Brett has to a beer. Also tried the double wide IPA, which while fairly standard IPA was very tasty.
Russian River - At this point in my tasting, my palate is starting to go, and my pen is finding the paper a little less often. I did get to try Supplication.
Deschuttes - I was hoping to try their Dissident, but by the time we got to their booth they were out so I settled for their very good Anniversary Ale.
Moylan's - They were out of their Triple IPA unfortunately, so I tried their Double IPA. What I wrote in my tasting book was basically HOLY ^*#$ Hop Bomb. I think that about sums it up.
Dogfish Head - This is where we finished it up. Tried the Theobrama which I thought suprisingly tasted a lot like Midas Touch, with a bit of spice, and the Palo Santo which was sweet and rich.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the festival. Afterwards we headed to the Falling Rock taphouse for even more beer. Saw quite a few folks their, including the Alstrom Brothers of Beer Advocate, and Jay Brooks of the Brookston Bulletin (actually introduced myself to him, nice guy). A few quick observations from the festival that may not be evident by my tasting notes above. While IPA's and other hoppy beers were out in force I also saw a lot of branching out. There were quite a few Saisons, Kolsch's (although not many good ones) and more smoked beers than I remember seeing before. The question I discussed with my wife and brother In-Law is the hop shortage and hop prices having an impact, and are we seeing the ramifications? Don't get me wrong I think this is a great thing, seeing American brewery's branch out away from IPA's and towards other complex unique styles of beer. I can't wait till next year.