Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Denver: Final Report

So we survived GABF 2010 and made it back to Alaska safely. Hooray! Traveling by air these days sucks so bad that I always feel like cheering when it's over, but that's another story.

My interview with the BeerTapTV guys went great; look for it on their Taste Buds show in a couple of weeks. Then we went to the first session of the GABF. I won't go into tremendous detail about that here; maybe in a later blog. Suffice it to say, being in a huge hall with 50,000 people tasting over 2000 beers is quite an experience.

Friday was given over mainly to press events, with a Media Luncheon from 12 to 2, followed by a bus tour to the Breckenridge Brewery, the Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey distillery, and ending up at Wynkoop Brewing Company for the tail-end of the 2nd Annual Denver Rare Beer Tasting in support of Pints for Prostates. My only complaint was that by the time we made it to Wynkoop, most of the rare beers were all gone. Still, Elaine and I did bump into an old friend there, Mr. Chicken.

Saturday we went back into the hall for the Members Only Session in the afternoon. I liked the atmosphere much better this time around, as it seemed less crowded and more people were interested in the beer they were drinking, rather than just drinking the beer. Afterward, the BeerTap TV guys did a cool wrap up of the entire event with a bunch of the bloggers at GABF. Look for it on their website as Beer Buzz # 92, "Buzzed with Friends".

This illustrates one of the real paradoxes that I have found out about going to beer festivals. Often the things going on around the main event are even more fun than the main event itself. Perhaps it's because these events seem to attract the folks who are really interested in the beer (as opposed to the drinking), or maybe it's just that they are usually smaller and more intimate. So while the GABF was fun, the stuff we did outside and in the days leading up to it were the best.

Meanwhile, things have not stood still back here in Alaska. Kassik's Kenai Brew Stop has a brand-new American-Style Hefeweizen. After a contest to suggest a name, they have picked Whaler's Wheat. I missed the big Oktoberfest celebration last Saturday, hosted by the Soldotna Elks with plenty of Bavarian Dark Wheat beer from Kenai River Brewing. At St. Elias, Zach Henry has been moose-hunting for the last couple of weeks, but he's back in the brewhouse now. They will be holding their Oktoberfest celebration on Friday, October 22nd, and Zach tells me he plans to release his new Imperial Russian Stout then. Prior to that, he's got a couple of casks to tap, so watch this space for news of Firkin Fridays.

Next, I want to let everyone know about the Mighty Matanuska Brewfest. It's being held on Friday & Saturday evening, October 15th & 16th, at Raven Hall on the Alaska State Fairgrounds from 6 to 10 PM. I haven't yet been able to attend this fest (and after spending a week in Denver at the GABF, I don't think I'll be able to get there this year), but I hear it's a great time. Kassik's and St. Elias will both be there, along with Alaskan, Denali, Glacier Brewhouse, Silver Gulch, and Sleeping Lady from this state, and Pyramid, Deschutes, & Sam Adams from Outside. So if you can get up to Palmer on either day, you should really check it out.

Finally, it's about time I did another beer review. On my way back from Anchorage on Sunday, I made a quick pit stop at Brown Jug and picked up a couple of new brews from Midnight Sun. Last night I opened up The New Black, one of this year's Pop Ten series. This one is billed as a Belgian Black Bier, a black lager aged in oak barrels with black currants and Brettanomyces. It poured opaque with a nice tan head. The aroma was of dark fruit with hints of brett funk, which was confirmed in the taste. Very smooth, very balanced, with the fruit flavors working well with the woody notes and the brett elements. It reminded me quite a bit of their Lust, one of the Seven Sins Series from 2007, which was also oak-aged with brett, but they used sour cherries in that one. Overall, it's a very nice beer, but at 8.4% ABV, it's a sipping beer, not a session one.

Well, that's about it for now. I'll try to get myself further dug out from the pile of work I'm still buried under and write up some of the excellent brews I had on my trip, plus the new ones hitting the Peninsula.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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