Reflections on the GABF

So, the party's over. At the Colorado Convention Center, the last bits of the 2010 Great American Beer Festival are being torn down and packed up. Janitorial crews are scrubbing the floors and walls. Brewery representatives are headed back to their respective cities, and college kids are returning to campus. And bloggers, such as yours truly, are reflecting upon the festival gone by.

This was my first GABF, and it won't be my last. My wife and I went for two nights this time around, but I could see myself going for all three. There might be a couple changes to the routine next time around, such as staying within stumbling distance of the convention center and not really trying to explore Denver by foot in between sessions. Also, I may have to sign up for the Brewers Association or the American Homebrewers Association to get into their Member's Only Saturday session or go on Thursday night instead to try and beet the college kids.

I had many good beers at the GABF, but only a few that I would call amazing beers, and all of them seemed to be from Colorado, a state I've neglected to cover in my reviews thus far. First of all, I fell in love with Wynkoop's Patty's Chile Beer, a 2006 GABF Bronze Medal winner in the Fruit and Vegetable beer category. It had a strong chili pepper aroma without the overt spiciness that I was expecting from a pepper-infused beer. It is one of my new favorites. Also one that I enjoyed was Yak & Yeti's Chai Milk Stout (auto-"corrected" to "Chair Milk Stout" in one of my tweets); I've never tried a beer infused with tea before, but they did a fantastic job. Finally, Rocky Mountain Brewing's Da' Yoopers tasted almost exactly like cherry pie filling. I've never had so many creative beers at one time. Great job all around, guys!

Also, I took the time (probably too much time) while there to talk to some of the brewmasters and brewery representatives that were there. Here is my list of awesome breweries from the festival, along with any awards they won last night (the full list of winners can be found here):
  • Alaskan Brewing Co. - Always great to talk to and support. Another Gold for the Smoked Porter's 2009 edition. Not a surprise there.
  • Trinity Beer Co. - Great IPA out of Rhode Island, which won the Bronze in the Imperial India Pale Ale category.
  • Horseheads Brewing, Inc. (NY) - Another good East Coast brewery, though I can't remember what I had. Blame it on being buzzed.
  • NOLA Brewing (LA) - Great Brown Ale, great people to talk to.
  • Full Sail Brewing (OR) - Dedicated staff, which is what you get when the employees own the place.
  • Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. (OR) - Still one of my favorite breweries to visit and support. Bronzes in the Hefeweizen (for their famous Hefe) and the Ordinary or Special Bitter (for their Drop Top Amber Ale)
  • Redhook (WA/NH) - I toured the Woodinville, WA brewery many times in college. So many fond memories. Passionate about the beer. Shoulda tried the Copperhook, one of my college beers, if they had it.
  • Laurelwood Brewing Co. (OR) - Another Portland brewery that I'd probably be addicted to if I still lived there. Deranger took the Bronze in the Imperial Red Ale category.
  • 10 Barrel Brewing Co. (OR) - So there's apparently more to great Bend beers than just Deschutes. Sold out by the time I got there. Draft only. Last year's Bronze in the Out of Category awards for their S1NIST0R Black Ale.
  • Can't forget Deschutes (OR), also sold out when I got there, but I have a bottle of Abyss waiting for the holiday season. Gold for their Mirror Pond Pale Ale (Classic English-Style Pale Ale), Silver for their Gluten Free beer (Gluten Free) and their Wowzenbock (German-Style Wheat Ale), and Bronze for their Bachelor ESB (Extra Special Bitter or Strong Bitter).
  • Ninkasi Brewing (OR) - Another SOL, but I met co-founder Jamie Floyd. Awesome guy. Can't wait to try some of your beer.
  • Wynkoop Brewing Co. (CO) - The aforementioned Chile Beer is my new favorite beer, and their food ain't bad either.
  • Brooklyn Brewery (NY) - Finally! An east coast brewery doing something interesting that isn't Sam Adams! I took a zymological journey with them and their odd-but-tasty beers. Their Manhattan Project tasted like a Manhattan.
Congratulations one and all! I look forward to talking with you in the future.

For now, however, I must rest and start another week of work. I am continuing work on the redesign and the migration of this blog as you read, but I felt this entry couldn't wait. So until next time: Prost!

P.S. I have to give a big thumbs up to the Reno area's own Great Basin Brewing Co., who took home a Bronze in the Experimental Beer category -- Nevada's only medal!

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