Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Revving up at the GABF

By William Brand
Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 at 10:27 pm in Uncategorized.

LATE NOTE: ALL SESSIONS OF THE FEST ARE SOLD OUT, EXCEPT FOR SATURDAY NIGHT. SO IF YOU WERE PLANNING TO COME AND DON’T HAVE TICKETS, PROBABLY BEST NOT TO COME. WB.

DENVER – Downtown Denver’s swarming with brewers and beer geeks tonight on the eve of the Great American Beer Festival at the Denver Convention Center. In fact, my Southwest flight from Oakland here this morning was filled with brewers and beer lovers.

I talked to David Heist, owner of Hoptown Brewing, late of Pleasanton, and Christian Kazakoff, head brewer at Triple Rock in Berkeley on the plane. Both were complaining about the steeply rising cost of barley and hops. More on that tomorrow.

David says he may not make his dynamite double IPA called DUIPA any longer because of the cost of barley and hops. He closed his brewery in Pleasanton a few months ago and is happily brewing his beers at Sudwerk Hubsch in Davis, including Paint the Town Red, India Pale Ale, Golen Ale and Oatmeal Breakfast Ale.

After failing to register for the convention at the GABF headquarters because the doors were closed, I stopped into Falling Rock, 1919 Blake St. in the Lower Downtown section of Denver. This is one of America’s greatest beer bars along with the Toronado in San Francisco, Brouwers Cafe in Seattle and the Brickskeller in Washington, D.C.

Ran into David again and his pal, Don Rossiter, of Denver. This is a guy who loves Hoptown beers so much that he has the Hoptown label tattooed on his right arm. No lie. Here’s a photo.

Walked up to the bar and two people who were also on the plane, beer aficionados, not brewers, from San Rafael said hello.

They were drinking Green Flash IPA from Green Flash, Vista, CA – San Diego County. They loved the beer, so do I. And it’s widely available in the Bay Area. Big, malty, hoppy.

Here’s what I tried:

Great Divide Titan IPA***, Great Divide, Denver. Served in cask on a handpump, it had that soft, drinkable quality that only a handpump can deliver. None of that icy coldness from being pushed to the glass by CO2 or nitrogen. This one had a big hoppy floral nose with a decent amount of malt to balance: 65 IBUs (a Bud’s got 13 International Bitterness Units), 6.8 percent alcohol.

Oskar Blues Gordon Double IPA***, Oskar Blues Cajun Grill & Brewery, Lyons, Colo. http://www.oskarblues.com/. Again, big hoppy nose, plenty of malt on the palate and a whoosh of hops in the finish.

Finished off the night with a 11.2 oz. bottle of Achel Bruin****, from Achel, the Trappist monastery in northern Belgium. This is a beer champ. Beautiful nose of toffee and earthy yeast, slightly sweet taste with a gentle tang of hops in the malty finish and warming from the 8 percent alcohol. Whew. Love that beer. Was it worth $12. Absolutely and a I shared it with others. This one can also be found in the Bay Area at places like Ledger’s in Berkeley, Monument Wine & Spirits in Concord, City Beer Store in San Francisco, Beltramo’s in Menlo Park and Drager’s in San Mateo. Can’t find these places? Shoot an email to me at whatsontap@sbcglobal.net and ask for our 2007 Retail Beer Store List.

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