Sunday, November 3, 2019

Road to GABF

I know the annual story on my GABF experience is up there on the reading list with Michelle Obama's "Becoming", or at least Ellen DeGeneres' "Home". What's that? She's no longer welcome in our home? Ok, whatever you say. Let's just get on the road to GABF 2019.

What do you know about Colorado Springs? I know there's a good liquor store and a lot of chain restaurants. I know it's home to the Air Force Academy. I know it's home to some of those mega churches that have their own TV shows. Interesting sounding city that I had never spent much time in. What's Chipotle like in another city? Let's find out.

I did the usual drive up I-25 towards Denver, usual in the way that I was questioning my decision to drive about the time I passed the St. Michael's Drive exit in Santa Fe. But one of the great things about GABF is the chance to get cans (and bottles, I guess?) of beers not normally distributed to CO. With this in mind, I made my first stop in search of these goodies at Big Bear Liquor in Pueblo. And it turned out to be a bust. I made this place a must stop because I had been impressed with the selection on a previous GABF trip but it didn't seem like the special distribution made it to Pueblo. I did happen to pick up some Augustiner Edelstoff that ended up tasting like soda. I suspect it was very old, though I haven't been able to find any help deciphering the bottling date. Thanks, internet.

By the time you make it through Pueblo, it feels like a pretty quick drive to Colorado Springs. Congested, maybe, but not the worst drive. I had a room booked at the Hilton Garden Inn downtown because I wanted to be where all the action is. Of course, we all know that downtown in some cities is the last place to find anything good going on. Imagine your first time in Albuquerque and walking from the Doubletree down to Central at 11 pm on a Monday night. You might look around and think, "What the fuck is wrong with this place???" Your only entertainment could be the guy playing guitar outside Anodyne and the strung out people watching him. But anyway, I was willing to take my chances. And the hotel was less than a month old, so it was pretty sweet except for those damn harsh LED lights that are going in everywhere. I want warm light.

As always, I paid a visit to Coaltrain Liquors. A very boutique-y liquor store, it never lets me down until I get the final bill. But such is the price you pay for a good selection that isn't totally picked over, which is something you may have to deal with once in Denver along with thousands of other people doing the same thing. I picked up some Toppling Goliath King Sue and Intergalactic Warrior, Old Nation Boss Tweed, and a few other hotel beers. Spent less than normal, so I had money left over to hit the Colorado Springs nightlife.

One reason I chose the hotel I did was because it is only 0.3 mi from Brewer's Republic, a reputable beer bar downtown. Did you know Colorado Springs is over 6,000 feet above sea level? It certainly felt like it, because I was already freezing on the short walk over there. Kind of a sparsely decorated place but with a decent tap list of about 15 beers, including BA Rusty Nail from Fremont and Bubblestar Princess from Odd 13. Oh, and Blind Pig from Russian River. Funny how that's almost an afterthought when like 45 states can't even get that beer. Brewer's Republic also had a good food menu, from which I ordered a salad. That's about all I have on this place, get a beer and a very good salad. Riveting.

The excitement is just beginning. Next, I walked all around downtown looking for the next hot thing. I passed a Chipotle that I stole a bottle of Tabasco sauce from in 2008 because they didn't warn me that guacamole was an upcharge. I turned my head as I walked by just in case. One bar looked like it was packed but Geeks Who Drink was going on so I steered clear of that, thanks. I ended up finding a cool arcade bar called Supernova. They had Punch Out, Street Fighter 2, Tron, Defender; about 20 in all plus pinball machines. Kind of like Sister but with more games and without plastic cups covering half the empty taps before a Thursday beer delivery. I spent the night there until my quarters ran out and headed back to the hotel for a forgetful night's sleep.