So it was a chilly and overcast morning that greeted us on the second day at the 2013 GABF. Day two was a hiatus day of sorts from the festival itself and saw us going to the Media Luncheon followed by brewery tours in and around downtown Denver. A short stroll from our hotel and 38 floors up got Amelia and I to Media Luncheon waiting area at the Grand Hyatt to hang out for a bit and rub elbows with fellow GABF media folks. As part of the afternoons’ food pairings the organizers of the GABF selected eight breweries out of the 624 in attendance to match their beers with some simply awesome food. Upon arriving we were given a welcome glass (or two) of Gooseberry Gose from Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth,MN brewed with, you guessed it, gooseberries. Like all Gose’s this one has the look and initial nose of a Berliner Weisse but with addition of salt (NaCl) and acidulated malts this Gose had a lovely clean, piquant finish.
As I go through the afternoons’ beer and food pairing I’m also going to toss out a few GABF factoids. This year the festival has seen the largest turnout of journalist and bloggers covering the GABF with a whopping 460 of us in attendance – up from 368 in 2012. In fact we were at that moment the largest known gathering of beer media in the world!
Now for some beer. First up for the luncheon was a selection of two beers, to pair with butternut squash and poblano soup, SoCal locals Beachwood BBQ Brewing serving up Udder Love a roasty, toasty milk stout that was a great foil to the heat from the poblano peppers. Next was Flagstaff IPA from Lumberyard Brewing Company showing a piney blend of Centennial, Simcoe and Cascade hops.
Did you know?: The 2013 GABF is the largest yet with regard to attendance and brewery participation with 49,000 attendees, 624 breweries pouring over 3100 different beers – literally a sea of suds!
And now for the main course. We were served a Breckenridge Vanilla Porter braised boneless short rib which was paired with Face Down Brown from Telluride Brewing Company. This beer was an excellent example of the nut-brown ale style. Local Species from Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA was also poured. Blue Mountain Brewery describes Local Species as, “A Belgian-inspired, barrel aged, American-hopped experimental sort of ale.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. This beer was transcendent with the short rib. This is what it was like for me: sour, tart, metallic nose, tart and hop forward palate with a nice brett-y, barnyard funk flavor and finish throughout. With this meal it made me feel Flemish.
We were given a preview of what to expect for the GABF in the next few years to come. First, for 2012 and 2013 the festival was only able to accommodate 624 breweries on the convention floor and 745 breweries for the competition. The great news? The organizers of the GABF have a verbal agreement that starting in 2015 the GABF will be getting an additional convention hall to accommodate any and all breweries that want floor space and to a part of the competition (which is huge considering there are some 2500+ breweries in the good ol’ US of A). That also means that there will be more tickets available to all the beer enthusiasts who were not able to get tickets this year.
Let’s finish with something sweet and interesting shall we? For dessert we were served a milk chocolate pumpkin mousse cake paired with two more really interesting brews. Seizoen Bretta from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales in Hood River, OR is a brettanomyces heavy saison which was a lot like this: bubblegum, fruity, lemon zest and rose hips nose with a banana, brett-y horse blanket palate. This yummy brew uses organic pear juice in the refermentation process which lends to its’ fruity character. Up next was The Great Pumpkin imperial pumpkin ale by Elysian Brewing Company from Seattle, WA. Served from impressive jack-o-lantern covered jeroboams this brew sports significant but not overbearing spice balanced nicely with it’s 10% ABV. Beer for dessert? Why not.
Wrapping things up at the luncheon we made our way downstairs to busses waiting to whisk us off to local breweries. More on that in the next post.
Cheers, Jason and Amelia