Monday, October 20, 2008

The Best of Colorado, GABF Style

First, I want to apologize to anyone I met at the Great American Beer Festival who was expecting to come to this site and see something that was updated continuously afterward. The only excuse I have was that as soon as I recovered from four days of wonderful tasting, the world of politics (my real job) kicked in, and it drew me away from my passion. I'll try not to let it happen again.

Before I leave behind the best of the festival and start talking about some trends and surprising tastes that I found, however, I want to pause for a moment and congratulate those Colorado breweries that took home medals. I always find it amazing and, in some cases, almost random what can walk out of a room full of 2,900 beers and claim that it is one of the three best of its style in the country. Consider that Avery, New Belgium and Great Divide - the breweries that some consider the three best in the state - combined for one less medal than The SandLot. Or chew on the fact that the only medal won by Odell Brewing was in the Pro-Am competition.

That said, I'd like to list all of the local winners with a few comments here. And maybe if you didn't get to try them all on the floor (A tough task: I know because I tried but failed), you can at least sample them throughout the state over the next year.

Amicas: The Weekender Red Ale, a well-deserved bronze in the double red ale category, was strong but very smooth.
Avery: Its Fifteenth Anniversary Ale, silver in experimental beer, combines a flowery nose with a wonderfully spicy Belgian character.
Blue Moon Brewing: The Honey Moon Summer Ale took home a bronze in specialty honey beers. This is nowhere near my favorite category, so I'll let you reserve judgment for yourself.
Bull and Bush: Silver medals for Hopsmith Pale Ale (mild pale ale) and The Legend of the Liquid Brain Imperial Stout (barrel-aged strong beer).
CB & Potts Highlands Ranch: Its Golden Armor snagged a bronze among Belgian-style strong ales.
CB & Potts Westminster: Two medals for two very different beers. The Java the Hut (gold in coffee-flavored beer) was a very dark and very tasty number. The Westy Export (silver in German-style Oktoberfest) was a mild pilsner.
Dillon Dam: Its Sweet George's Brown is a gold medalist among English-style brown ales.
Dostal Alley Brewpub: Its pleasant, light, dry Shaft House Stout was a silver among classic Irish-style dry stouts.
Dry Dock Brewing: Its USS Minnow Mild Ale (silver session beer) wasn't available at the festival.
Durango Brewing: Its Derail Ale (gold among other strong beers) was a pleasant find, a very smooth and shockingly strong golden ale. The Pleasantville Pils (gold in Bohemian-style pilsner) wasn't at the festival.
Great Divide: Big and smooth, the Yeti Imperial Stout took a bronze in imperial stouts.
Kannah Creek Brewing: Grand Junction's little-known brewery won a bronze among extra-special bitters with its Standing Wave Pale Ale, a nicely subtle copper-hued ale.
Left Hand Brewing: All hail the delicious Milk Stout, the easiest-drinking stout in America, which shockingly only took silver among sweet stouts. The Sawtooth Ale nabbed a pale mild ale bronze medal.
New Belgium: Mothership Wit won a gold won a gold among Belgian-style witbiers, but the truth is they just need a new category to describe the incredibly crisp organic taste.
Odell Brewing: Its light Irish Red won a bronze in the pro-am category, but suffice it to say there were other beers that seemed to leave without their deserved bling.
Pug Ryans: The silver-winning Bohemian-style Pallavicini Pilsner is one of the best summer beers around here.
Pump House Restaurant and Brewery: Its Brush Fire Ale, silver among American-Belgo-style ales, can be found at this Longmont eatery.
Rock Bottom Brewery: The Louisville-based restaurant chain took home the large brewpub of the year award nationally, but that was for its body of work in restaurants across the country. Its one Colorado-based winner was the Red Rocks Red Ale, a gold-medal-winning Irish-style red ale from its Westminster location.
The Sandlot: The annual pilsner-awards gobblers once again led the Colorado delegation by bringing home four medals. They were: Bock Gold for its sweet Goat Rancher; silver among international-style pilsners for its never-available Yep, Still Boneheads; bronze in the Munich-style helles category for its easy-drinking BS Helles; and a well-deserved bronze among smoke-flavored beers for its Second-Hand Smoke, a smoked bock that seems to glue its aroma to its pleasing beer.
Tommyknocker Brewery: Idaho Springs' pride and joy spun a tale of two bronzes: Prospect Porter (brown porter) and Butthead Bock (bock).
Twisted Pine Brewing: Its full and bold Big Shot Espresso Stout earned its silver in the coffee-flavored beer category.
Walnut Brewery: Its Old Elk Brown Ale won silver for English-style brown ales.
Wynkoop Brewing: One of only two double-gold winners in the state (along with Durango Brewing) for its B3K (German-style schwarzbier) and its Wixa Weiss (south German-style hefeweizen).


Nice write up Ed. Now that I look back at the GABF in retrospect, I wish I had spent a bit more time over at the Colorado section to try some of the beers I've yet to taste. I forced myself to stay out of that section as I wanted to try as many beers as I could that I couldn't get in Colorado. Turns out that I cheated and did grab some of the local beers, more than I had realized until I checked my tasting notes. We're lucky to live in an area with so many good breweries. I still wholeheartedly support our local brewers here in Colordo, but it is equally important to try beers from as many places as possible. Grats to all the Colorado brewers who won medals and for all those who really deserved an award as well. Perhaps next year I'll plan my tastings a bit better to reserve some time for the local stuff. May just have to attend every session!
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