By William Brand
Thursday, October 6th, 2005 at 12:20 am in Uncategorized.
Waiting for the Gold at the GABF
DENVER _ It’s almost 1 p.m. Saturday on the final day of the 2005 Great American Beer Festival and the crowds are gathering to see who’s won gold. There will be gold, silver and bronze winners in 69 categories _ 477 brewers have entered 2,385 beers.
Winners have been chosen by professionally accredited beer judges in blind tastings. There are so many subtleties and variables in beer judging that most brewers realize it’s only one award; someone else entirely can win in the next time. But it’s fun to win.
Cruising this fast hall, at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, I noticed big crowds in front of New Glarus, the Wisconsin maker of Belgian Red, a tart, extremely delicious red ale.
Garrett Oliver, the ebullient brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewing, who makes the world class Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, was pouring his beers to a large crowd. Nearby, the Dogfish Head booth had a crowd. Another pleaser was Rye Pale Ale and Wake and Bake Coffee Oatmeal Stout from Terrapin in Athens, GA.
Earlier, at Wynkoop, the brew-restaurant owned by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, I met two women from Bananas, an Oakland’s child services agency, who were here for another kind of conference. I was pounding away on the posting about Ben Franklin’s beer. They saw my Oakland Tribune press badge and asked what the GABF was. Later I saw them inside the GABF. They had stayed at their conference until its last gasp, then beat it over to the festival.
I walked around with them for a bit, before I rushed off to another event. I left them a bit bleary-eyed. In the space of half an hour or so we sampled, Imperial IPA from Vino’s, Little Rock, AR, Fat Bastard Scotch-Style Ale, a 9.2 percent, 30 IBU beauty frm Silver City, Silverdale, WA. Walking over to the Colorado section, we hit the Avery Brewing, Boulder, CO, booth. In succession we tried a savagely hoppy Avery India Pale Ale***, Avery Saison, a peppery, malty version of the Belgian style, and Beast, a stunning, syrupy 14.1 percent barley wine. It was thick and chewy like a liquer, but lacked a liquer’s cloying sweetness.
We started out for Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI, but got sidetracked at the New Belgium (Fort Collins, CO) stand for a taste of the unique New Belgium Tripel**, a light gold ale with a fruity nose and a hit of ripe fruit and alcohol. Next we tried Lagunitas PIls***, hops like the Czcech Republic, home of pilsner beer, never dreamed about: crisp, hoppy, but backed up by lots of malt.
Next came, Black Butte Porter*** from Deschutes, Bend, OR. It’s a beauty of a porter: roast grain nose, smooth and malty. End of tasting for that night. Good thing my Oakland folks didn’t have to go back to their convention that night.
Add two more to the 29,000 plus who attended the gigantic, three-day bash. For more info on the GABF and how to get tickets, or better, how to volunteer and get in free next year, go to this link.
Before the awards were announced, I attended Sam Adams annual breakfast at the Palm Restaurant near the convention center. Great food and Jim Koch, the guy behind Boston Brewing Co. and Sam Adams, was pouring small glasses of his stunning, $100 a bottle Utopias*****. It started out as a beer, but has gone far beyond that, different yeasts, fermentable adjuncts. It’s advertised as 55 proof or about 25.6 percent alcohol by volume. More on Utopias later.
We also got to sample Sam Adams Black Lager, a new seasonal headed for stores soon. We were asked to vote on two other fledgling Sam Adams beers, Brown Ale and Bohemian Pilsner. I liked the brown the best, but the concensus of the crowd was the pils was best. We’ll see.
Well, time to post. Prost!.
Post Note: As you can see by the date on this posting, I didn’t post it when I intended to do so. Was sending it to the web via e-mail But SBC Global, the server I used for my beer e-mail blocked it. In fact, every e-mail I tried to send was blocked. Two days later, I learned that SBC had blocked all messages sent by SBC Global customers using other servers (me). Something about“port 25 access”.
I was told it was an anti-spamming move. Hmmmp. Probably the only ones able to send e-mail were the spammers. Like those articles that come encased in tough plastic at big box stores. If you were planning to steal something, you’d no doubt show up with scissors or heaven forbid, a box cutter. The rest of us pay for the item, then spend 20 minutes trying to open the damn thing at home.