Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

First Night at the GABF: Ancient Beer

By William Brand
Friday, September 29th, 2006 at 4:37 pm in Uncategorized.

Ok it’s the first running of the err_ waitaminute…It’s the first night of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and I’m running from pillar to post, sleuthing out the best beer, saying hello to Northern California brewers in this vast, vast hall.

I’ve already posted the highlight of the night – the tasting of different vintages (feds be damned, they are vintages) of Alaskan Smoked Porter. Here’s what else I saw…

First the stats: The Brewer’s Association 1,647 beers on tap from 47 states (states not represented – I don’t know why – North Dakota, Rhode Island and West Virginia.) In addition, there are 2,443 beers from 450 U.S. breweries in 69 styles entered in the professionally judged competition. The competitors include most Northern California breweries. First place gold medals, second place silver and third place bronze medals will be awarded. End of stats.

One final note: If you’re within driving distance of Denver, there will be three more public sessions, tonight, Friday, from 5:30 – 10 p.m ., Saturday afternoon, 12:30 -4:30 p.m. and Saturday night, 5:30 – 10 p.m. Ticket info: here.

One highlight was Chateau Jiahu, the beer using…here, this is from the Dogfish Website:

Let’s travel back in time again (Midas Touch was our first foray), this time 9000 years! Preserved pottery jars found in the Neolithic villiage of Jiahu, in Henan province, Northern China, has revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey and fruit was being produced that long ago – right around the same time that barley beer and grape wine were beinginning to be made in the Middle East! “Fast forward to 2005…. Molecular Archeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern of the University of PA calls on Dogfish Head to re-create their second ancient beverage and Chateau Jiahu is born. In keeping with historic evidence, Dogfish brewers used pre-gelatinized rice flakes, Wildflower honey, Muscat grapes, barley malt, hawthorn fruit, and Chrysanthemum flowers. The rice and barley malt were added together to make the mash for starch conversion and degredation. The resulting sweet wort was then run into the kettle. “The honey, grapes, Hawthorn fruit, and Chrysanthemum flowers were then added. The entire mixture was boiled for 45 minutes, then cooled. The resulting sweet liquid was pitched with a fresh culture of Sake yeast and allowed to ferment a month before the transfer into a chilled secondary tank.”

What more can I say? Hazy gold color, chrysanthemum nose, malty taste, wild, spicy follow. Besides, Greg Wiggins, of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, says, “It goes well with Chinese food. I know; I tried it,” he said.

But, I guess not so well with sushi, huh.

Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish Head, says it will be bottled this month and some of it, no doubt’s headed to the Bay Area. Well, this will be one to bring to a party, huh.

Other first night highlights: Biggest line for a taste: 1. Alaskan Smoked Porter. 2. Wisconsin Belgian Red, New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glaris, WI. Brewed with whole Montmorency Cherries, a bit sour, well, tart really. Wish this one were available at home.

Oh well. Weirdest sight: Waiting for the hotel shuttle at 1 0 p.m. last night, five people walking down the sidewalk, each wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, each shirt with one letter: B – E – E – R – !. Trouble was, they were all mixed up, so it read B-R-E-E!.

And here’s Bree to you.

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