Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ABQ Represents at GABF!

Wow, what a weekend! I still smile every time I think about it. I guess that's what 1,969 different beers from 500 different breweries will do to me. Not that we sampled that many.

But we tried. Damn, did we try!

We were in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival, held Oct. 9th through the 11th at the Colorado Convention Center. We got a late start on the drive because of some morning meetings so we didn't get to our hotel until after 5:00. Since the fest started at 5:30, we knew there would be a line once we got to the Convention Center.

This wasn't a line. This was the entire state of Colorado in front of us. The line ran all the way around the building, which itself is a full city block. Just when I thought we were getting close to the front, we'd turn a corner and the line was even longer. The couple standing behind us didn't help the wait very much. The wife had procured a copy of the GABF program and was reading the beers offered inside to her husband, one by one. This went on for an hour; we'd turn another corner and be nowhere closer to the entrance, and the lady behind us was still on the B's, "Brooklyn IPA, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Local 1...".

The seasons changed a few times before we made it inside, but we DID make it in. I suppressed an urge to scream and take off running to the first beer booth. The best plan of action in a crowd this big is to use finesse and slip your way to the front of a line rather than use brute force. Even with this plan in mind, it was hard to keep control as the first section upon walking in was the Pacific area, home of Bear Republic, Green Flash, Port Brewing,Lagunitas...GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

I had to control myself. After all, I was here not just for myself, but to cover the Albuquerque contributions to the fest. We came across Brady McKeown, head brewer of Il Vicino, as he was busy pouring for the thirsty crowd. I enjoyed a Hopgoblin IPL,or India Pale Lager, an interesting twist on the IPA style. I talked to a few attendees after they hit the Il Vicino booth and all had positive reviews of the beers.

Located just a few booths away were the folks from Chama River, who seemed to having a better and better time the later the hour. I think they were enjoying the samples as much as the crowd, and good for them. How could you not take a few nips of the March Hare IPA they were pouring, the IPA that took first at the NM IPA Challenge!

I made it over to the Marble booth very late in the evening but they were done pouring and there were none of the Marble guys around, though I would think Ted and Daniel would make the trip. I did spot bar manager Ryan somewhere in the Northwest section, looking content with his samples.

We met up with our buddy Fred Crudder along with his co-workers Susie and Matt from Taco Mac. They introduced us to the Terrapin Brewers and we tried Terrapin's Terra-Rye'ZD, a black rye lager collaboration with Left Hand Brewing. Nice! Will we get it in Albuquerque? Doubtful! The Taco Mac gang had gotten into Denver at 9:30 that morning and had been visiting breweries all day before the beer fest, so needless to say they were leaving the fest early that night.

Most of the night was spent oohing and aahing over the selection. Many of the breweries brought their limited release and variations of their traditional lines, which is nice because often those are the beers that never get bottled and one only gets to taste them at the brewery. I made sure to tell the Odell guys that they had won our 4th of JulIPA Challenge. They were about as impressed as you would expect. Like I said earlier, we tried to taste as many beers as we could, but we tended to go for the bigger beers and couldn't get over 70 samples before the dreaded last call. I really think we could have done over a hundred but looking back, last call may have been the intervention we needed that night. By 100 we could have been seriously hurting the next day.

We headed out with the rest of the crowd and stumbled a few blocks back to our hotel. So was the hour+ wait to get in worth it? You better believe it! The sheer number of incredible beers there for unlimited sampling combined with the most knowledgeable gathering of beer enthusiasts all in one place made for an unforgettable experience!

Fireston Walker- Union Jack IPA, Parabola
Green Flash- Imperial IPA
Hollister- Hip Hop DIPA
Bear Republic- Racer X
Lagunitas- Hop Stoopid, Gnarly Wine
Bison- Organic Pumpkin
Alaskan- IPA, Smoked Porter
Heavy Seas- Loose Cannon
Odell- IPA
Moylan- Hopsickle, Double IPA
Deschutes- Hop Henge, The Abyss
Thomas Creek- Pumphouse Porter
Terrapin- Terra Rye' ZD
Surly- Furious, Coffee Bender
Shorts- Huma IPA, Rich's RIPA
Three Floyd's- Dreadnaught, Alpha King
New Holland- Charkoota Barleywine, Existensial IPA
New Glarus- Reapberry Tart, Unplugged Lager
Minneapolis Town Hall- Fresh Hop, Eye of the Storm, Mango Mama. Russian Roulette
Weyerbacher- Imperial Pumpkin, Thirteen
Vintage 50-Wee Heavy, Auld Abominable
Victory- Baltic Thunder
Troegs- Scratch #4 Barleywine
Triumph- Pumpkin, Coffee and Cream, Bengal Gold IPA
Great Divide- Espresso Oak Aged Yeti
Live Oak- Hefeweizen
Joseph James- Red Fox RIS
Il Vicino- Hopgoblin IPL, Jeff and Paul's Old Ale
Chama River- March Hare
Walking Man- IPA, Old Stumblefoot
Rogue/Tracktown- 200 Meter IPA, Oak Aged Red
Oakshire- Imperial IPA
Philadelphia Brewing- Newbold IPA
Sixpoint- Belgian IPA
Dock St.- Rye IPA, Espresso Stout
Nodding Head- IPA, Phunk
Sly Fox- Ichor
Stoudt's- Smooth Hoperator
Iron Hill- Belgian IPA, IPA
Stewart's- Old Perculator Coffee Stout
Tied House- Jupiter IPA
Fish- Detanator
Real Ale- Dunkel Roggen
Russian River- Pliny the Elder

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