Monday, September 25, 2023

GABF Awards Ceremony 2023- Them's the Breaks

The morning of the 2023 GABF Awards began like so many before, with me scrambling to wake up, brush last night's beer taste out of my mouth, and find some coffee to drink while writing about the awards. I needn't have rushed, as former CO Governor and current Senator John Hickenlooper hit the stage first and gave a not short but very engaging speech on his time in the beer industry.

2,033 breweries entered this year's competition, with 9,298 beers being evaluated by a panel of 250 judges. That's an average of 37 beers per judge. I had about that many pours at First Draft on Friday night after the fest.

On the local front, Marble Brewery took a Silver medal with Thunder From Dortmunder in the Dortmunder or German-style Oktoberfest category. Also, Flix Brewhouse won Bronze in the Juicy or Hazy Strong Pale Ale Category with Tropical Mirage. The two medals were the fewest New Mexico has brought home since the 2010 GABF, when Chama River took the lone NM medal for Three Dog Night Baltic Porter.

Here's some random observations and stats on the awards: As usual, California and Colorado were the big winners, or more specifically, California was the BIG winner, with 73 medals, while Colorado had 36. Oregon did pretty well with 23.

California swept the American-Style Strong Pale Ale category, as well as the Imperial IPA category. And the Imperial Stout category. And the International-Style Pale Ale category. They also took Silver and Gold in the Juicy or Hazy Imperial IPA category. Ironically, they only took one medal in the new-for-2023 West Coast Style IPA category.

And now for a word from our sponsors. Heard that many times during the awards this year. I get it; it's a necessary part of the ceremony in the current climate. Fewer breweries pouring at the fest means less revenue for the BA, who still put on a hell of an event and frankly deserve all the money they can bring in. Locally, Marble consolidated their production and MavLab spots into a single booth, while La Cumbre, a stalwart Featured Brewery, chose not to pour at the fest this year. On the other hand, Santa Fe and The 377 Brewery both paid to be a Featured Brewery. I did appreciate the emcee's subtle (sales) reminder of how gratifying it is to be able to pour your award winning beer on the festival floor after winning a medal. Always be closing.

Quick, what do 1852 Brew Co., Corn Coast Brewing Co., and Side Hustle Brewing Co. have in common? Yes, they all have Co. in their name, but I was going for the fact that they all medaled in the Juicy or Hazy IPA category this year. In the most competitive category (365 entries). And I never heard of any of those three breweries. And none got to experience the gratification of serving their award-winning IPAs on the festival floor.

The numerous breaks for people to "get up and dance" were curious considering that the awards ALWAYS run over into festival pouring time.

Remember when Iron Hill would win a bunch of medals? A lot less cowbell these days.

Lazarus Brewing out of Austin winning Gold in both Bohemian and German Pilsner categories means another lager stop besides ABGB next time I'm in Austin.

Modern Times lives! Bronze and Silver in the new Dessert or Pastry Stout category. Don't mess with a good thing, Maui.

Brett Pack members took Gold and Silver in the Belgian-Style Witbier category, with Adam Avery's White Rascal taking the Gold over Rob Todd's Allagash White, which took Silver. And if you were at the festival, you may have been served a sample by four of the five members of the unofficial group: Tomme at the Lost Abbey Booth, Sam at the Dogfish Head booth, Adam at the Avery Booth, and Vinnie at Russian River. Aaaanndd I'll admit here first that I didn't see if Rob was pouring at Allagash this year, really just f'ing up this whole nice little sidebar piece I was writing. But it was nice to see industry vets continuing to be a presence at their booths, though I'm not mad when there are just volunteers pouring who can't tell you anything about the beer. Even if there are brewery reps at the booth, there just isn't time to stand there and talk when there are 30 people in line and the rep has to pour for everyone.

German-Style Pilsner had the 4th most entries of any of the 99 categories, with 228 entries. And the Light Lager category had even more, with 284 entries. Fizzy yellow beers are for wussies, it was once said.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

2023 GABF Breweries to Visit, T-Z

Here ya go, the final installment of the Breweries to Visit series, circa 2023. Hopefully, there will be some gems you agree were deserving of making the list. There always end up being a few duds along the drinking journey that I expected to be winners, but that's what the dump buckets are for. Keep an eye out for festival recaps in the days following GABF.

Templin Family Brewers I don't get it when people say they can't find anything but IPAs at stores and breweries. That's just lazy talk where people parrot one another but aren't actually spewing facts. There are more lagers being produced now than any time I can remember (I was not alive 100 years ago), and brewed by IPA-centric breweries at that. A recent visit to Green Cheek had Bier, their Helles lager, on tap and in cans. And Monkish, of all breweries, had two Pilsners and a Helles available. What made Cerebral well known? Hazies, right? Check out any of their recent draft and can lists. Tons of lagers. And now here's me writing about yet another lager producing brewery for you to try at GABF: Templin Family Brewers. Templin has taken home three GABF medals for Granary Keller Bier as well as a medal for their Rauch Bier. Oh, and look at that: Their Squirrel hazy IPA won a Gold at WBC this year in the Juicy or Hazy Strong Pale Ale category. Nothing but damn hazies at this fest.

The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. ABGB for short, this brewery looks above at the Templin medal count and says, "Hold my beer". With 11 medals between GABF/WBC, ABGB is a lager lover's dream. All five of the beers ABGB is pouring at the fest (Industry Pils, Hell Yes, Rocket 100, Velvet Revolution, The BEEginning) haven taken medals.

The Bruery Ah, the good old days of lining up for some Black Tuesday! No word on whether Scoops on Dunn will be available the entire time during the fest or a dreaded "Tapping at 8!" situation, but I'll try to make it there for this blend of Black Tuesday and All The Cows with coffee, vanilla, toffee, and cocoa powder. And then, a nap.

The Lost Abbey It was kind of surreal a few fests back to see Tomme Arthur standing at his booth with a buspan full of bottles of Duck Duck Gooze and nobody lined up for it. For selfish reasons, I wouldn't mind being the only one there again, as they'll be pouring the 2022 DDG as well as 2012 Angel's share. Kudos to The Lost Abbey for bringing something special.

Third Eye Brewing This brewery makes some interesting fruited Milkshake IPAs, such as Jelly Brain V1 with pineapple and toasted coconut. Got my eye on Double Astral Heaven Hill BA Imperial Stout as well. Not my third eye.

Twisted Pine What do Serrano, jalapeno, habanero, Fresno, and Anaheim peppers have in common? If your answer is, "None of them belong in beer!", then stay away from Twisted Pine's booth. But if you like a damn hot Chili Beer then give Ghost Face Killah a try. Good luck.

Von Ebert Von Ebert does a number of styles well. Their Volatile Substance IPA won Gold at GABF 2021, and their Pils has medaled at both GABF and WBC. Both will be available at their Pearl booth, while their Festbier will be pouring at their Glendoveer booth.

Wayfinder Beer Can't say enough about their lagers. Hell may be my favorite Helles lager in the world. Freiheit was the best Festbier at GABF in 2022, in my opinion. And you can have both, as well as Earth's Eris Cold IPA from the brewers that invented the style.

Wibby Brewing Hot damn, more lagers! This Longmont, CO brewery is bringing five of them, including medal winners Volksbier Vienna and Moondoor Dunkel.

Wren House Brewing The best brewery in Arizona? I think so. They have really come along with great lagers as well as still making quality hazies. I'm looking forward to Prasna Brana Czech Lager, FrankenWally TIPA, and Triple Vanilla King Snake, a Rip Van Winkle barrel-aged Imperial Stout with six lbs. of vanilla beans.

Weldwerks Brewing And speaking of stouts, let the long lines begin! One of the most popular booths, and for good reason. Weldwerks always brings it, and this year they'll have ten beers, including three versions of Medianoche Imperial Stout. Mix that with some Extra Extra Dino Bits and some Strawberry Cheesecake fruited sour and you'll feel real awful. Enjoy!

Monday, September 18, 2023

GABF 2023 Breweries to Visit, R-S

Pure Project Ok, looks like I finished my last post without including one of the important P breweries: Pure Project. This brewery brings us our first Flanders Red sighting of the fest with Roes Red, a Flanders aged in Pinot Noir barrels. I'm also looking forward to trying this year's Corylus, a 13.4% Imperial Stout aged in Breckenridge and Heaven Hill barrels with added Oregon hazelnuts, Peruvian cacao, and Nicaraguan coffee. A melting pot of beer ingredients.

Radiant Beer Co. I don't know how I keep missing out on Radiant when I visit Anaheim. Actually, I take that back. I know why, and it's all Bottle Logic's fault. I always think I can just get a few very small pours at BL and be fine, when the truth is those small 13%+ pours turn me into a worthless mess where I can barely pour myself into an Uber back to my hotel. But next time, Radiant. For now, I'll enjoy small pours of Show Me a Sign hazy IPA (Radiant has twice medaled at GABF with hazy offerings) and the 14% Luxurious Potential, a barrel-aged Imperial Stout inspired by Black Forest Cake. Yum.

Ratio Beerworks Here's a brewery that knows how to do a fest- just look at the fun stuff they're bringing to GABF, including King of Carrot Flowers, a carrot juice and elderflower Saison; Dear You, a Citra-hopped French Saison; Barrel-aged Barleywine; Genius Wizard, a 14.8% barrel-aged Imperial Stout. Oh, and a Mexican-style lager.

Revision Brewing This brewery that has been cranking out IPAs like crazy over the years, but I'm looking forward to trying Coconut Pie Face, an Imperial Stout with toasted coconut, Madagascar vanilla beans, and cacao nibs. Yeah, I know that I'm recommending a lot of Imperial Stouts. Want you to get the most ABV you can get out of that $100 ticket.

Revolution Brewing Ever have a fruited Barleywine? I never even thought about it. Doesn't sound appealing, honestly. But I trust the brewers at Revolution when it comes to high ABV beers, so I'll at least take a sip of the 15% Life Jacket Barleywine. Deth's Tar Imperial Oatmeal Stout is also on the menu.

Right Proper Brewing With a former Allagash brewer at the helm, of course I'm going to recommend Li'L Wit, a Belgian-style Witbier, and Foveal Vision, a foeder-aged Farmhouse Ale with fruit.

River North Brewing I think they're trying to kill us. The 6 beers being served at the two River North booths average out to 11.7% ABV, with a max 16.9% for 2019 Vicennial: Father Time, a barrel-aged English Barleywine. But they are bringing the 5.3% River North Pils as a palate cleanser.

Russian River Brewing You know you were going to visit Russian River whether it made the list or not, and there are plentyof RR goodies to choose from with both the Windsor and Santa Rosa locations represented. DDH Pliny the Elder, STS Pils, and Intinction Sauvignon Blanc barrel-aged Wild Ale with Brett are my Windsor choices, while Docta-Ron (IPA with Nectaron hops) and Jannemie Saison highlight the Santa Rosa booth.

Saint Arnold I feel like there aren't nearly as many Pumpkin Ales as there used to be at GABF. Without Elysian there, that leaves off about 50 alone. Saint Arnold is bringing their 11.3% Pumpkinator Imperial Pumpkin Stout this year.

Salt Road Brewing Feeling sad because there won't be a giant Stone Brewing endcap booth this year? At least you can get a taste of what you're missing with Arrogant Sellout, the 9.3% Strong Ale that is Salt Road's homage(?) to the once fiercely independent brewery.

Samuel Adams It's a given that I'll miss the pouring of the 28% Utopias, which will be available from 8:19 to 8:22 or something ridiculous like that. Haven't been able to get a taste after all these GABFs. But I have to give a shoutout to the reformulated Boston Lager. I was originally skeptical, thinking they were just dumbing down a decent beer to sell to the masses. But the new version is a really nice beer. Wasn't expecting that.

Schnitz Ale Brewery Interesting that a place with "Ale Brewery" in its name has me looking forward to the Poppa Pils, a Keller Pilsner.

Second Chance You Robust Porter fans aren't going to walk by this booth without a taste of the four-time Gold medal-winning Tabula Rasa, are you? Didn't think so.

Seedz Brewery This Michigan brewery is on my short list of must visits for lager specialists, and they'll be representing with a Helles, German Pils, and Keller Pils.

Snake River Brewing If only to drink the Zonker Stout, which has taken an amazing 11 GABF/WBC medals all the way back to 1994.

Sunriver Brewing Looking for some clear beers with good ol' American hop bite? Look no further than Sunriver, who have you covered with the GABF Gold Pale Ale Rippin, and the WBC Silver IPA Bondi Beach Party.

Sun King Of course I have Sun King on the list. With 41 GABF/WBC medals to their name, Sun King is like the Jeff Bagby of breweries. Cherry Busey alone has taken four medals in the Belgian-style Fruit Beer category.

Spice Trade In the "trying it because it's different" category goes this Spa Sidekick Gose, with cucumber, lemon, coriander, and Utah rock salt.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

2023 GABF Breweries to visit, N-P

Narrow Path How come you only write about smoothie sours and not the good kind, someone asked me. Good question. I my have overlooked some, but I am hereby mentioning Restless Seas as a Gose you should try. This beer brought Narrow Path Brewing their first World Beer Cup medal in 2022.

Nashville Brewing And speaking of award winners, Nashville Brewing took home Silver for Nashville Lager in the Helles category at WBC in 2018 and GABF in 2020, as well as a Bronze at GABF in 2018 for NashZwickel in the Keller/Zwickelbier category. Here's your chance to try them both.

New Terrain GABF is about expanding your palate and trying new styles, right? For some people, maybe. For others, it's seeing how much food they can fit on a string tied around their neck. Both are noble purposes, and here's a beer to please both of those types of people: Punky Masala, a beer made with Indian spices and intended to mimic the flavors of the curry soup Pumpkin Masala. Wash that soup down with Mirage, the Sour IPA (so many sours!) that has won Silver twice at GABF.

No Label Brewing Like those West Coast IPAs? Try Cali Boy, the beer that took a Silver in the coveted Imperial IPA category at the 2022 World Beer Cup.

NOBO Brewing Wait, you say, didn't you recommend this brewery's BA 2nd Breakfast Imperial Stout last year? Yeah, and why not again? Aged 14 months in Jim Beam barrels with added cinnamon, maple syrup, and brown sugar, this sounds like a beer worthy of a 2nd mention. And honestly, I can't remember if I liked it last year, so I need a do over.

Other Brother Beer Co. Yet another sour for your drinking pleasure, this time a collaboration with Alvarado St., is Tropic Desert, a prickly pear, mango, and lime kettle sour.

Our Mutual Friend And what about Saisons? Haven't written about a single one at the fest. Well, sorry, Hill Farmstead isn't at GABF and there aren't a ton of Saisons to write about. Biere Ovale is one of the few, and you can tell it's good because it has a fancy name. This foeder-aged Saison won consecutive Silver medals at GABF (2021 and 2022) in the Mixed Culture Brett Beer category.

Perennial Artisan Ales You've seen it on store shelves but didnt want to pay the $30. But with your $100 GABF ticket, you can drink Abraxas for free! This stout is loaded with vanilla beans, ancho chili, cinnamon, and cacao nibs. What's that? You wih it was the barrel-aged version. Sigh. Me too. I just didn't want to sound ungrateful.

Pizza Port Yes, there are four different Pizza Port locations with booths at GABF, but I'm lumping them all together here. Look at the number of medal-winning beers they're boasting at this year's fest: Oceano (Carlsbad, 2023 WBC Bronze in Australian Pale Ale category); Guillaume (Ocean Beach, GABF/WBC SIX-time medalist in Session/Belgian Table beer category); Paloma (Ocean Beach, 2023 WBC Bronze Specialty Berliner Weisse); Oats (Solana Beach, three-time GABF medalist in Oatmeal Stout category); /p>

Prost Sure, you could go to the brewery itself and enjoy a liter of any of these, and you probably should. But stop by for a shot of their Northern German-style Pilsner and their seasonal Festbier.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

2023 GABF Breweries to Visit, H-M

Heavy Riff Brewing Company Dear Agony is a great name for a 13% barrel-aged Imperial Stout with espresso, as the morning after GABF is often agonizing. Nothing some Pedialyte and an IV can't fix. While you're at the Heavy Riff booth, give Quadraphonic Euphoria (port wine-barreled Quad) a sip. Another 13% beer won't hurt, right?

Hold Out Brewing Austin, TX has a number of breweries famous for their lagers. This isn't one of them. But maybe they'll catch a buzz after GABF. I'm looking forward to Ol Gil Pilsner and Hesky Czesky Czech Dark Lager.

Hoosier Brewing This Indiana brewery (duh) is making some talked about fruited sours. BOXO Fruit- Cherry and Roll the Fruit- Fruit Spirit sound fun.

Hoppin' Frog This brewery has always been about the big, bold beers, and they've brought some to prove how tough they are. The 15.1% Pentuple has medaled twice at GABF in Belgian categories. The 14.1% (notice the all-important .1% on these beers) Frogichlaus tribute to Samichlaus has nagged medals at both GABF and World Beer Cup in the Doppelbock/Eisbock category.

Icicle From the Great state of Washington comes a brewery that's easy to say but hard to spell. Seriously, you ever try to spell icicle? Well, Icicle has a World Beer Cup Bronze medalist in their Premium Pilsner, and they'll be pouring it at their booth.

Kern River Can I just take this opportunity to say that I'm disappointed that Kern River isn't bringing the beer that made a relatively little brewery in a relatively remote area of California famous? Talking about that Citra DIPA. That was a beer that was hard to get back in the day but worth the chase.

King CongA couple of Czech style beers here I'm gonna sample from this Sacramento brewery: Prague at Night (Dark Lager), and Dzungle (Bohemian Pilsner).

Liquid Mechanics Not every stout has to be over 12% to be worth drinking, I tell myself. Now to test that out with the 8.5% Coconut Milk Stout from Liquid Mechanics, with 10 lbs. of toasted coconut per barrel.

Lock 27- Dayton Taproom I'm far from a beer purist anymore (though I could do without rice and corn in lagers, thanks), so sign me up for a taste of the Go Bananzas! Milkshake Hefeweizen, made with lactose, vanilla, and banana puree. Barrel-aged Aplheus Affogato Imperial Stout and GABF Bronze Witbier Wolk will be there as well, but can't pass up that unique Hefe.

Maplewood I've been a fan of this Chicago brewery's IPAs for years but never had the pleasure of trying their stouts. That ends on Sept. 21, by God! Barrel Aged Cuppa- Neat is a 13% Barrel-aged Imperial Stout. The question is, which barreled version are they bringing: Blanton's, Elijah Craig 18, or Rip Van Winkle?

Modern Times Yup, they're still around. And they're still making great beer, though I prefer the old Ice Pilsner to the current MT Pils. And they always bring big beers to GABF, such as Monsters' Park: Vanilla and Modem Tones: Samoa Cookie. And possibly the best beer I had in Denver during GABF last year was Modern Times Chaos Grid: Coconut, though that was at First Draft, not at the fest.

More Brewing They made the list last year for the big stouts they brought, but they only are bringing one this year. But when it's Mehndi Special Reserve, a 16% Imperial Stout aged two years in Eagle Rare 10 barrels, that gets them on the list. Bummed they aren't bringing any of their underrated DIPAs this year.

Morgan TerritoryThis brewery has taken home three medals for their Old Diablo Barleywine, including a Gold in 2008 at World Beer Cup and 2019 at GABF. In fact, they've taken home 25 medals at the two fests over the years! Aside from Old Diablo, they'll be pouring HopTomic, which won Gold at the 2023 World Beer Cup in the Imperial IPA category, Metalmark Marzen, 2022 Bronze for Oktoberfest, and The Cushman, GABF Gold in 2021 for Dortmunder and Bronze in 2022 at WBC for Dortmunder. Interesting thing about The Cushman is that it's only 5% and is categorized by Morgan Territory as a Helles. Well, not the first time I've been curious about competition judging.

Friday, September 1, 2023

2023 GABF Breweries to Visit, A-G

Last year we went in-depth with a preview of breweries I'm most excited to try at GABF. There were a lot of great, a few duds, but mostly solid beers that made the list. Gonna give a go again for GABF 2023. Be forewarned- a lot of these are high ABV, many are hazy. But I'm also after the best lagers I can find (like those from Brieux Carre last year). Many of these on the list will be breweries you have heard of, but I can't help it if they make the beers I'm looking forward to. And of course it's a given that I suggest you visit the NM breweries representing at the fest: Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Ex Novo, etc. And don't forget to look at the non-aloholic beer booths like Ceria and Gruvi. Always good to rehydrate. So yeah, hope this guide helps you find a few gems. Here's the A-G installment.

3 Floyds May as well start off with one of the OGs. Though their line at GABF isn't what it once was, they still make solid beers. And this year, they're pouring the fabled Dark Lord Imperial Stout at their booth. No Zombie Dust (boo), but Zombie Ice (yay).

903 Brewers The longest lines of 2022 went to 903, which isn't necessarily fun when your waiting in it, but the "beers" 903 serves up are fun. Looking forward to the Blueberry Donut Slushy Supreme and Finer Things Club, a 13% Imperial Stout with Nutella and salted cookie flavor.

AleSmith This is why I can't have more than 15 or so samples at GABF- beers like BA Speedway Stout. Gotta stop by and try this classic.

Avery Another booth that I list possibly just for nostlgia (Saturday post GABF Avery tappings at Falling Rock, anyone? Yes, I definitey need that pour of Rumpkin after hours of sampling!) You don't have to worry about getting wrecked off of Rumpkin. Tweak, yes. Thirty, their Strong Ale aged in Stranahan Whiskey barrels? Definitely.

Bearded Brewers Heard good things about the Memories series of Triple IPAs from these guys. Now I'll get to try them.

Black Market Worth a stop to try Gold, their New England DIPA that won Gold at the 2018 GABF. A Grungeist and Crystal hopped DIPA wins a medal? Yeah, I'm pretty skeptical too.

Boneyard Beer Notorious TIPA is always worth a sip, and they brought Wooden Femur too- a rye whiskey barrel aged English Barleywine.

Bootstrap Brewing Their Wreak Havoc Imperial Red is a three-time medalist at World Beer Cup. They're also pouring Stick's Pale ale, a 2021 Gold medal winner.

Bottle Logic Not passing up Fundamental Obsevation, Bottle Logic's BA vanilla Imperial Stout. May as well stay for a taste of Voltaic Stack, BA Stout with walnuts, bananas, maple syrup, and cinnamon.

Chuckanut Yawn. Another year, another medal, this time a Gold for Chuck Light in the Light Lager category. Oh, and throw in a Bronze for Pilsner in the Bohemian-Style Pilsener category at World Beer Cup. And they be pouring at their booth. They've amassed 32 medals at the two competitions.

Dogfish Head Really reaching to try some obscure breweries, huh? I know. But listen- Oloroso Sherry Barrel-Aged 120 Minute IPA. I think I'll hate it. But I want to try it. And I'll admit, it's always cool to see Sam in person.

Dostal Alley This under the radar Colorado brewery has medaled three times for Shaft House Stout in the Irish Dry Stout category.

False Idol This Texas brewery is bringing some big beers, including the 13.5% E.H. Taylor/Blanton's Barrel-Aged Helm of Awe Imperial Stout with Madagascar and Ugandan vanilla beans. Got room for more? Another ounce won't kill you, so may as well go for the 17% Monstro Imperial Stout with pistachio and vanilla.

Ft. George Matryoshka Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout may be the big draw here, but I'm looking forward to Half Liter, the Festbier collaboration with Stoup Brewing.

Fieldwork Watermelon Pulp? I would have been more than fine with regular Pulp. Why mess with a great thing? But I will stop there to try Guardians of a Loveless Isle, a 9.8% passionfruit and kumquat Sour Ale aged in oak barrels.

Ghost Town Winning the Imperial IPA category in both 2021 and 2022 at GABF is a huge feat, and Ghost Town accomplished just that with Nose Goblin, their 9.2% DIPA. Give Geisterfaust Pilsner a try while you're there.