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Posts Tagged ‘Great American Beer Festival’

GABF Day 3: Awards, more beer and really cool times

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Saturday is one of my favorite days at GABF because of the awards ceremony. I love watching who won what and which surprising brewery beat out someone else and then when judging is over, everyone runs to the breweries that won and gets to try the medal winning brews.

But before the session began, there was the Sam Adams Longshot brunch to attend. The Longshot is an annual homebrewing contest that Boston Beer holds each year. They have two divisions, one for employees and one for non-employees. It was really cool to meet the winners and hear their stories about how they got into brewing and how they came up with their recipes. Plus, I got to meet Jim Koch, a first for me.

Before the judging began I had an opportunity to interview Brewer’s Association founder and President Charlie Papazian and also Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head. I met both of these men more than a few times and it’s a true pleasure each time I talk to them. Both of them are so passionate about beer and brewing and food and the growth of craft beer and it’s simply infectious. I would give anything to work with these men, even for just a short time. I will hopefully have both of those interviews up soon.

The awards ceremony was super cool for several reasons. First, one of my favorite breweries and LA/OC favorite, The Bruery, won it’s first GABF medal, a Gold for their Oude Tart. When I saw their name go up, I was so charged! I was super excited for everyone that works there because they are all truly genuine and nice people and they really do make amazing beer. I was disappointed that Black Tuesday, my favorite beer, didn’t place but overall, it was just a super cool moment.

Second, another local brewery, Eagle Rock, won a gold in the Pro-Am division with the Red Velvet, an imperial red ale. Eagle Rock is all of 8 months old so seeing them on the board much less with a gold was a shocker. But I cannot be happier for Jeremy, his father and his wife Ting. And this is a beer I’ve yet to try so it quickly went on my list!

Lastly, I just happened to be sitting next to Jim Koch during the ceremony. We got to talk a lot and I got to share with him about some of the SoCal and Texas breweries he didn’t know. He didn’t know Saint Arnold (from my hometown of Houston and winners of Gold again for their Fancy Lawnmower) or of Real Ale in Blanco or Independence in Austin. But it was especially cool for me to tell him that my first craft beer was a Sam Adams in a Christmas pack my sister gave me in 1994 and those were the beers that converted me. He was surprised but also humble and thankful that I shared that with him. I really enjoyed talking to him and could see the drive and passion in him that made him and Boston Beer Company what it is today.

I was also thrilled to see Firestone, TAPS, Pizza Ports, Stone (for Sublimely Self Righteous–YUM!) and Deschutes do really well too. I loved seeing them come off the stage and taking their pictures. Veronica Vega from Deschutes was so excited she practically lit up the whole convention center. I can only imagine what this must have been like for her. It was really cool.

After the awards, Veronica, Eric and a couple other Deschutes guys and I all went around to some of the different breweries who had won or who had a beer we wanted to try. It was pretty cool. I dragged them to Founders to try their Canadian Breakfast Stout which is simply amazing. I want that beer with some pancakes!

Finally that night, JJ, Brian and myself were all invited to have dinner with the Deschutes family and celebrate their winnings. It was such an amazing time to spend with these men and women and truly get to know them. I don’t think I can find enough good words to say about them and certainly about the beers they brew.

After that was a late visit to Falling Rock to catch the last sips of Dr Bill’s tasting and then to someplace called the Whiskey Bar. I can only say that after a day full of beer, anyplace named the Whiskey Bar is an inadvisable way to finish the night. I’ll leave it at that.

Another amazing GABF come and gone and so many good friends and good beers enjoyed. This is truly one of life’s great experiences and I thank everyone who was involved however they were for making it everything that it is. Cheers!

GABF: Friday fight against cancer beer events

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Friday is always an awesome day at GABF. The session isn’t until 5:30pm which leaves a day full of freedom to check out the many breweries in the Denver area, participate in other events, sight-see in the Denver area or just relax.

Last year was the first year for the Pints for Prostates Rare Beer Tasting, which was back in full force with some amazing rare beers. It’s also a great chance for people to meet some of the brew masters who are typically present to pour their beers. This year was no different as brewing big wigs Garrett Oliver, Adam Avery, Larry Sidor, Greg Koch, Greg Hall, Sam Calagione, Ron Jeffries, Patrick Rue and more were in attendance! There was excellent food, awesome beers and every penny raised went towards the fight against prostate cancer.

I attended the night session only briefly before adjourning to let the craziness go forth, grab a bite to eat and head to Falling Rock for the Pints for Prostates Celebration of Collaborations, which included only beers that were collaborations between breweries. It too was attended by some stars including Tomme Arthur and once again, some amazing beers were thoroughly enjoyed.

One of the highlights of the day was a new event which took place in the morning called the “Beer for Boobs Brunch”, a fundraiser for breast cancer. The event was organized by Stevie Caldarola, a New York native who also recently created the “Ladies of Craft Beer“. The group is designed to encourage women to teach women about craft beer, from brewing to cooking to food pairing and to share the gospel of craft beer with other ladies who aren’t yet converts.

The event was a huge success and Stevie was gracious enough to give us insight into her inspiration for the group and how excited she is to be at her first GABF.

GABF Day 1: Thirsty Thursday

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Day two of the GABF was actually the first official day of the event and there was plenty of things going on!

We started our day at the Great Divide Brewing open house for industry folks. It was great to see so many people from other awesome breweries visiting Great Divide and enjoying some great beers and great food. I started with the Titan IPA and followed that closely by the Hoss, made with Rye. Both are truly delicious beers! They also served BBQ and various cheeses. The Great Divide brewery is bigger than I expected and very spread out. It’s always fascinating to visit different breweries and I enjoyed Great Divide.

The first GABF session kicked off at 530pm, although we went in early with other media and industry folks, and very quickly a line formed for New Glarus and Dogfish Head. I chose New Glarus and tried the Raspberry Tart which tasted like a carbonated fruit drink. It was tasty! I wish I could tell you each of the great beers that I had a chance to try but that would make this a very long post. Trust me when I say, you should attend GABF and find out for yourself!

The Farm to Table event is one of my favorites and I was not disappointed. There were 12 breweries serving two beers that were expertly paired with a dish. I ran into Stone CEO Greg Koch, Ska Brewing’s Arlo Guthrie and I got to meet Sebbie from Rogue, aka “the Chocolate Stout lady on the bottle.” I thought that was very cool because I really love that beer. So far as chocolate stouts go, at least in my opinion from the ones I’ve tried, that one most closely tastes like rich chocolate without the alcohol heat that some have.

I also ran into Victory Brewing CEO Bill Covaleski who was talking to people about beers and food and took some time to share with us a little about the pairings at the event and what is happening at Victory during a “Beers With” segment we did.

GABF Wednesday pre-parties

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

This year is a special treat for me. Last year I flew into Denver on Thursday, the first official day of the GABF, but this year I obviously came into Colorado early to take the Cicerone exam. That meant I was here for the GABF pre-parties and wow, what a night!

I was joined by JJ Bagley and Brian Kropf from Mutineer Magazine and going in, we had to know it was going to be a night to remember.

The partying began with the Dechutes Brewing Special Reserve tasting on the 27th floor of the Grand Hyatt, right across from the Convention Center. Let me begin by saying that Deschutes has long been one of my favorite breweries with just their flagship beers Mirror Pond and Black Butte Porter. But I also love the Inversion IPA, the Abyss and absolutely most of all… Mirror Mirror. Barleywine is my favorite beer style and Mirror Mirror simply touches my soul with every sip. It is so amazingly delicious.

So tonight the Special Reserve tasting included something that made my giddy with excitement: the lost barrels of Mirror Mirror. These were barrels of the barleywine that were actually lost in the Deschutes warehouse and then found years later. They are unblended and simply slap-your-mama-good! I could not get enough. They also had some reserve Dissident and the Mirror Pond on tap but I was content with my favorite barleywine.

I also got to meet Brewmaster Larry Sidor, Chef Jeff and brewer Veronica Vega, all of whom are totally cool people. Check out the “Beers With” segments we shot at the party!

After the Reserve tasting we headed to Falling Rock Taphouse, a Denver landmark for craft beer and owned by a fellow Texas Longhorn, for a birthday party for Taylor Shaw. We arrived downstairs to see the whole gang already there and having a great time. The New Brew Thursday and BeerTapTV guys were there as was Laurie Delk (100Beers30Days), Rochelle Mills, Dr Bill from Stone, Alex P Davis, Melanie Strachan and many people’s whose names I’m forgetting now (sorry).

Plus, the Shmaltz Brewing company guys were there to promote a new book and they were breaking out some serious beers! They had their 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th anniversary beers and that 11th is just incredible! Plus, Falling Rock has a ton of great beers on tap.

Suffice it to say, it was simply an awesome night of great beer and there was epicness. And there were stories created to be told in later days (“stairs”). What a way to kickoff the 2010 GABF!!

GABF Live: Review of Day 3

Monday, September 28th, 2009

What a fabulous time the GABF was! Here’s a review of Saturday which consisted of brunch, the AHA members only first session and judging and the closing session and Dr Bill’s tasting event.

Review and pictures from Day 3.

GABF Live: Review of Day 2

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Another awesome day, especially the Rare Beer Tasting!

Day 2 Review and photos

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GABF Live: Day One review

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Wow! What a first day at the Great American Beer Festival! Simply awesome and amazing and so many other superlatives!

Instead of repeating myself on the awesomeness, check out my GABF Live column for Examiner.com.

GABF tomorrow! BJs and The Bruery updates…

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Tomorrow is the big day! I’ll be flying out of LAX in the morning headed to Denver for the GABF! I absolutely cannot wait for what is guaranteed to be an awesome experience!

Check out a couple of articles on LA area breweries headed that way as well:

BJs Restaurant and Brewery

The Bruery lands in Denver

The Bruery in Placentia, California

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Check out the latest article about LA’s own The Bruery! They are making some awesome beers and are looking forward to their 2nd GABF!

One week until the Great American Beer Festival!!!

Great American Beer Festival

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

The Great American Beer Festival is later this month and Destination Beer Show will be there!! I cannot wait to discover new breweries and try so many new beers! And even better, we’ll be doing some interviews which will soon enough be posted on site!

I’ll be working with Examiner.com to conduct interviews and promote the event and of course we’ll be Tweeting as we do. It’s gonna be fun!

Look for some preview articles and brew reviews on the GABF leading up to the event. It’s gonna be fun! And if you’re there, come and say hi!