|Image credit: Brewers Association|
In terms of trends, American-style IPAs and Imperial IPAs continue to be among the leaders in number of entries, along with wood and barrel-aged brews. Herb and spice beers were also near the top of the list, though this category actually saw a reduction in entries compared to a year ago. If there was one surprise, sour categories didn't experience a great deal of growth despite their obvious popularity. The latter evidenced by an abundance of traffic at brewery booths offering a walk on the wild side.
Another interesting side note was the sheer number of beers I tried featuring Colorado-grown barley and hops, not to mention a few which included (among other things) locally harvested juniper boughs and spruce tips. Here in Texas, barley and hops are obtained from outside the state, leaving water, yeast (a la Jester King) and specialty ingredients (like honey) to be our primary forms of terroir.
More news and notes:
Drinking local Denver style
A trip to the Denver Beer Company for their Collaboration Celebration was at the top of my list of things to do outside of the festival. Why? One of the featured beers was a Coffee Stout brewed in collaboration with Rahr & Sons. This brew had a nice, balanced flavor profile revealing hints of chocolate and roast, eventually finishing with a raw coffee bite.
Beer with body
|Image credit: Rogue Ales|
This time around, the concoction in question is The Beard Beer from Rogue, a brew created with yeast extracted from Brewmaster John Maier's beard. It sounds a little out there, but the resulting beer is pretty benign. It's classified as an American Wild Ale, which seems appropriate, but its character was more earthy than funky to my taste. Basically, it's a straightforward Belgian-style pale ale. And no, I didn't get any hair stuck in my teeth.
Rabbit Hole (on track for a November opening) recently announced they will release a beer created in association with Dallas Stars future Hall-of-Famer Mike Modano. Celebrity and athlete collaborations are still relatively new to the world of craft beer, but we've already seen some successful endeavors with Iron Maiden's Trooper Beer and the HBO/Ommegang Game of Thrones series. Curious how other, similar concepts have turned out I decided to track down MMMhops, a joint venture between the band Hanson and Oklahoma's Mustang Brewing Company, and Big Hurt Beer, brewed by the Minhas Craft Brewery in Wisconsin for former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.
|Image credit: Mustang Brewing Company, Big Hurt Beer|
New brew debuts
Dogfish Head American Beauty: Referred to as a counterculture collaboration with the Grateful Dead, this beer is brewed with and tastes a lot like the ingredients in a granola bar (honey, oats, grains). It's scheduled to launch at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Richardson on October 22, where they'll be screening The Grateful Dead Movie.
|Image credit: Dogfish Head|
|Image credit: Spoetzl Brewery|
|Image credit: Brewery Ommegang|
|Image credit: Boston Beer Company|
Seeing as how GABF sessions are at night, you have to find something to do with your days. As you might imagine, breweries are opening at a breakneck pace in and around Denver. What follows are thoughts on those that I visited.
Avery, Boulder- The only brewery on my itinerary that currently distributes to Texas, your impression of them might differ from the locals. While some identify them more by their Demon or Dictator Series (i.e. big beers), conversations in the taproom center around what constitutes the quintessential Avery sour.
|Crooked Stave (Brian Brown)|
Equinox, Fort Collins - Based on the recommendation of no fewer than four industry people, I visited this hole-in-the-wall brewery and taproom off the main drag in Fort Collins. Their most interesting offering was a Finnish-style sahti called The Knotty Bough, brewed with juniper berries and fermented with a Bavarian hefeweizen yeast.
Funkwerks, Fort Collins - Located to the east of the Fort Collins city center, Funkwerks is a saison-focused brewery that may also draw comparisons to Jester King. They don't offer flights, though you can build your own by way of a series of half-size pours into what looked to be a 20 oz snifter.
|Prost (Brian Brown)|
Prost, Denver - Take away the taproom and some of the old world brewing equipment and you might swear you were visiting our own Franconia Brewing Company. Classic German styles adhering to the Reinheitsgebot are the order of the day here, some brewed on 50-year old copper kettles brought in from the old country.
Texas award winners
Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery, Austin: Elba, Bronze for Herb and Spice Beer.
Cedar Creek Brewery, Seven Points: Belgian-Style Dubbel, Gold for Belgian-Style Abbey Ale.
Namaste Brewing at the Whip In, Austin: Bitterama, Gold for Herb and Spice Beer.
Pinthouse Pizza, Austin: Blind Jake, Bronze for Brown Porter.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Houston: Summer Pils, Silver for Munich-Style Helles; Weedwacker, Bronze for German-Style Wheat Ale.
Austin Beerworks, Austin: Black Thunder, Gold for German-Style Schwarzbier.
Community Beer Company, Dallas: Public Ale, Gold for Extra Special Bitter.
Real Ale Brewing Company, Blanco: Brewers Cut Altbier, Silver for German-Style Altbier.
Jester King Brewery, Austin: Atrial Rubicite, Bronze for Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale.
Cheers and congratulations to all!