Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Yes, you read that right. And if you're reading this and you don't have a ticket yet, I have some bad news for you: They're all gone.
The three-day celebration of malt and hops used to be one where you could walk up and get tickets on the spot and saunter right in. Last year, it sold out all four sessions for the first time. Last Friday, I called a buddy who works for the Brewers Association, and he informed me that they already were celebrating a total sellout, two weeks early.
A friend looked on line and said he sees the $50 tickets now going for anywhere between $100 and $300 apiece. The last time we talked about ticket prices like that for a Denver event, it was the World Series.
So, rather than try to sell anyone on the idea of going, I'd like to spend the next nine days discussing how to enjoy the festival: What's happening, what's on tap at local breweries and beer bars and what are some ideas for how to drink the best beers you can if you're a first-time festival goer.
For right now, I'll just ask for any suggestions, tips or favorite tours. Tomorrow we'll start talking beer. And soon enough we'll be drinking it.
Labels: Great American Beer Festival
Monday, September 29, 2008
Aah, Oktoberfest. That time of year when breweries roll out beers in the German fall tradition and we are treated to roasted, caramel malts like they are the only kind of malts one is allowed to use. Oktoberfest beers aren't my favorite style: I prefer my beers hoppier and frankly more diverse. But I've been drinking enough over the past week that I feel compelled to point out how they fit into this longtime tradition.
The Classic Oktoberfest beer: Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen. Malty, oh yes, it's malty. And amber-colored. And, of course, made in Germany. And has that feel that's hard to describe in an Oktoberfest beer - it's an old style, but not an old beer. Perfectly acceptable at street festivals and with a brat. Not something you go rushing to the store to grab. Not something you turn down if offered. Available everywhere.
The Classic Oktoberfest beer with just a little more: Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen. Its caramel color gives way to a caramel taste that you expect. But the standard malty chewiness of an Oktoberfest beer gives way just a little bit more quickly here, mellowing into amber enjoyment. There is just a little backbone here, and the beer is just a little fuller than others - and yet smoother. Enjoyable. Available in 500-ml bottles from Aying, Germany.
The Americanized Oktoberfest beer that is worth running to the store for: The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest Lager. Its full-on copper color seems so innocent until you drop Boulder-based Avery's masterful creation into your mouth. Your first impression is that it's a very thick beer, yet it's not overwhelming. There's so much going on here - high malt, high hops, high ABV (10%) - that it blends into a whirlpool-like evenness. But as the beer warms, you feel more of its alcoholic strength, and the back bite becomes just a little more obvious. This is a one-beer-will-do-you-for-the-night sipper. But its worth it. Available in bombers.
The pretender: Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest. There is much to be said for the beer that dares to experiment outside the fairly rigid Oktoberfest formula. Colorado Springs-based Arctic Brewery's Oktoberfest had slightly sour characteristics, bringing out the caramel in ways that I never thought possible. But Leini's version fell disappointingly short, giving you a lead-in malt taste that evaporated quickly. This isn't what I'd call bad, but it's forgettable even for a a beer that comes and goes quickly from the shelves.
Does anyone else have some Oktoberfest suggestions for the last weeks these beers are on the shelf?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wow, I just returned from back-to-back trips to Italy and Iowa, and it seems like there's tons to talk about in Colorado beer. Let's start with the thing I'm most excited about.
Bristol Brewing is now open on Sunday.
For those of you unaware of it, Colorado Springs' finest brewery got with the spirit of the new Sunday sales law and opened its doors on the sabbath for the first time on Sept. 14. Reports out of the Springs are that it's a big hit. The brewery plans to operate from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on that day, though a recent newsletter noted that they could open or close earlier depending on the all-important timing of Broncos games.
Does anyone know of any other breweries that are just getting around to Sunday openings?
Monday, September 01, 2008
Before I blow out of town for two weeks in Italy (definitely not a beer vacation), I wanted to post a few tidbits about new beers coming out of some of Colorado's finest breweries:
*Just a little over a week ago, Colorado Springs' Phantom Canyon Brewery rolled out its Coulter's Kolsch and a new Supercharged IPA. The kolsch is a very light summery beer in the style of traditional German lagers. The IPA, which packs a 6.7 percent ABV punch, is highly carbonated, a switch for the brewpub that likes to serve some of its hoppiest beers in a cask-conditioned state.
*Bristol Brewing in Colorado Springs rolled out its annual batch of "small" ale Friday. A word to the wise, though: It's not really that small. Although Joe and the brewers followed the same time-honored tradition of brewing a barleywine, reusing the grains for a medium-caliber ale and then using the grains one more time for a small beer, this one's got the normal level of alcohol in it. It should be around for a couple of weeks.
*Meanwhile, Bristol's former brewmaster, Jason Yester, opened Trinity Brewing the same night off of Garden of the Gods Road in the Springs. Trinity is a brewpub dedicated to the concepts of slowly served organic food and, as has been the case throughout Yester's career, beers that will blow your mind. He's got six of his own on tap, ranging from a more common wit and stout to a chi golden ale. Unfortunately, I was too busy packing and recovering from the DNC to make the opening, but I'll be heading down to the Springs as soon as I can.
*Lastly (though only in chronological order of release dates), Left Hand Brewing has collaborated with Terrapin Brewing of Athens, Ga., on the first of what it hopes will be an annual small-batch releases called the Midnight Project. The first of the series, conceived after a joint appearance by the breweries at a beer dinner in Georgia, will be a black lager brewed with damn near 50 percent rye malt called Terra-rye'zd. It will be available in bombers in October in just six states: five in the South and - you guessed it - Colorado.