I'm back in Houston from my whirlwind trip to Denver to attend the Great American Beer Festival. It was an incredible few days capped by my attendance at the Saturday Session of the GABF where I got to see some Texas winners (more on that later). It wasn't all GABF attendance though.
On Thursday lunch was at the famous Wynkoop, the first Denver brew pub where I paired good solid food with a very smooth and delicious ESB on cask. This ale was an incredibly drinkable session beer that was absolutely spot on as an English ale and was made even better on cask. After Lunch I headed over to the Great Divide Brewery for their Open House. It seemed like every brewery in Texas was there. Ran into folks from (512), Indpendence and Saint Arnold's. Even met Phillip Kaufamn maker of the latest Divine Reserve. While there I was able to try GD's Esspresso Oak Aged Yeti. All I can say is simpley amazing. I wish that Texas had gotten this beer in addition to the Chocoalte Oak Aged Yeti. The beer had it all, notes of vanilla, oak, bourbon, smooth silky espresso, some burnt malt notes and yet it was smooth, very smooth.
Friday saw me head out of Denver up to Boulder where my wife and I had lunch at Boulder Brewing. Again I tried their English Pale ale Cold Hop on Cask. Again it was a great interpretation of a British cask ale. A wonderfully tasty session beer. I also went by Twisted Pine's brewery and had a sampler of their beers. The standouts was their Espresso Stout and their Bourbon Barrel Red Ale. Initially the Red was too bourbon-y but as it warmed it got much better. Its a sipping beer to be sure but still a delicious ale.
Saturday of course was the day for me. The Saturday Session. Got there at 11:30, the doors opened at 12:30 and the line was already long. The hour went by fast and as the doors opened we were greeted by the sounds of Bag pipes playing. We grabbed our sampler glass and headed inside. I tried as many beers as I could from all over the country. Yes even some from Texas. I had the tasty Pecan Porter from (512) (oh when will it be in Houston?) to Freetail's La Muerta. Of course I had the beer's I've been dying to try, Russian River's Pliny the Elder, Lost Abbey's Cuvve de Tomme, Troeg's Nugget Nectar to just name a few. I tried to hit as many as I could and still keep my sanity (others will be the judge of whether or not I succeeded). When ever I come to GABF I like to look at the trends, what seems to be the big style of beer. Yes there are tons and tons of IPA's and DIPA's. but whats the up and coming? I can say this for sure, Oak aged beers are not going anywhere as I saw more of those this year than ever it seems. What else? The use of Brett in beers seems to be sticking around and I can't say I'm sad about that. Also and maybe it was jut me, but there were more Rye ales and lager's than ever before. It's these things that get me excited about GABF. Seeing how American brewer's are branching out, not everything is just hops hops and more hops (oh yes thankfully they are still around and as amazing as ever) but brewers are continuously branching out trying new things and in some cases things from decades past and putting modern spins on them. The other thing I love about GABF is meeting folks and we got to meet a ton of people many from Texas. Us Texans are passionate about good beer and I can't tell you how many home brewer's I met. My plans are to get in touch with some of them and watch them do what they do so well.
In finishing as promised a little more on the Texas Winners. Texas ended up with 2 golds and 2 silvers (these from the same brewery):
Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Saint Arnold Summer Pils TX Gold Munich Style Helles
The Covey Restaurant & Brewery Weizenbock TX Silver German-Style Wheat Ale
The Covey Restaurant & Brewery "100" TX Silver Belgian Style Strong Specialty Ale
Uncle Billy's Brew & Que Hell In Keller TX Gold Kellerbier/Zwickelbier
Congrats to Saint Arnold's, Uncle Billy's and The Covey. Keep making great beer.
Here is the complete list of winners.