As I left our hotel to attend the first session of the Great American Beer Fest it started misting rain over the Denver streets. I love the rain and we don’t get enough of it in Los Angeles but I did find myself fretting a bit about my mascara. Once I got inside the Denver Convention Center I realized I could have big Tammy Faye mascara tears running down my face and no one would notice. In the media area everyone was pressed together in a tight crowd trying to get up to the front to get our badges punched for entry. Once inside there are a few blissful moments, perhaps a half hour, where the venue seems not very crowded. The brewers are thrilled to have you approach their booths and try their wares and you bounce from station to station trying beer after beer. There were some amazing offerings. I decided to focus on California brewers in the beginning since that is home sweet home.
A List of Breweries Visited and Beers Samples with Occasional notes:
Telegraph- Obscura Vulpine
Solvang Brewing- Blue Eyed Blonde Lager
Bear Republic- Cher Ami, this was very pleasantly tart and refreshing
New Helvetia- Saison Solon, Homeland Stout, Rough & Ready IPA
Monkey Paw- Low and Slow Bonobos IPA
Modern Times- Fortunate Islands, Black Horse- this was fantastic. It had a dark, rich nose and a great finish. Modern Times plans to distribute all its beer in cans and check out the gorgeous packaging!
Maui Brewing- Mana Wheat, I veered off the California brewers path here, this brewery is located in Hawaii. The beer was brewed with pineapple and it was very tropical and delicious.
Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery- Saison De Lily, I ran across a lot of saisons at the Festival and this was one of my favorites very flavorful and balanced. I spoke with one of their brewers and he told me they do a lot of traditional English pub-style beers and tend to brew with a lower alcohol content to produce more session-able beers. I’m all on board with this philosophy especially when they produce beers as fine as this saison and also their Cole Porter, which I sampled as well.
Left Coast Brewing- Tommy Session Pale Ale
Ladyface Ale Companie- Midnight Special, this was a big favorite of mine with a rich and interesting flavor. I also sampled Grisette. If I had it to do over I would have reversed the order of tasting. Grisette is a much lighter flavored beer and I didn’t taste it properly in the wake of the Midnight Special.
After checking out all the amazing California brewers I let whimsy take me around the hall and I found myself in the Southeastern section trying out a few brewers.
Cool Springs Brewery- This brewery hails from Franklin, TN and as a native Tennessean I felt obliged to sample. If they were offering a ribbon for most phallic references in beer naming Cool Springs would easily walk away with the prize. I sampled the Circumsaison and Brett Saison but they also had Early Riser, Black SenSaison and Pecker Wrecker.
Holy City Brewing- Out of South Carolina. I tried the Smoked Marzen and the Pecan Dream, which was pleasantly pecan-y.
Deschutes- There was quite a line here because they were only busting out beers at certain times. I tried The Abyss and The Dissident. Both were excellent but The Dissident really wowed me, a very well balanced Flemish sour.
Mobcraft Beer- Hazelnut Amber, BatShit Crazy. Located in Madison, WI
Goose Island- Berliner Weisse, The Dove. Located in Chicago, IL
Little Egypt Beer- Abbot 6, Hefeweizen. Located in Carbondale, IL
Silver Moon Brewing- Bridge Creek Pilsner, Get Sum Pale Ale. Located in Bend, OR
Worthy Brewing- Worthy Saison, Dark Stout. Located in Bend, OR
Whew! If you’ll pardon me I’m going to lie down with a damp cloth on my forehead. It was a big job but I was equal to the task.
Yours as ever,