Monday, October 05, 2009

A GABF Toast to Colorado

Last week I wrote about what I considered the best beers at the Great American Beer Festival. They were of different styles and from different states, but had one thing in common: Absolutely none of them won a medal. So much for my taste buds . . .

What was exciting was the number of Colorado beers that medalled: 39, plus two overall medals for breweries. (News accounts reported 45 medals, but six of those were for Miller beers, which, as a purist, I still don't consider a Colorado beer.) And while many of the medalists are difficult for local beer geeks to get their hands on, these local ones aren't.

So, in alphabetical order, here are this year's Colorado winners - or, as I like to call them, my to-do list for the year - with commentary where applicable.

A.C. Golden Brewing: Dunkel (Bronze). This Golden brewery celebrated its first birthday with a medal in the European-style dunkel category.
Avery Brewing: The Kaiser (Gold) and Brabant (Bronze). The strongest, hoppiest Oktoberfest beer in America earns a well-deserved blue ribbon, while the Boulder brewing legend's new barrel-aged beer gets some love too.
Backcountry Brewery: May Bock (Silver). This Frisco gem of a brewery only serves this bock in the spring, so plan hiking trips appropriately.
Bristol Brewing: Cheyenne Canon Ale (Silver). Proceeds from the sale of this woody, slightly sweet nut brown ale benefit restoration of Cheyenne Canyon in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery: Colorado Boy Irish (Silver) and Colorado Boy IPA (Bronze). Tom Hennessy's newly opened Ridgway brewery makes beers that are less assertive but stylistically perfect, and the IPA especially is a smooth treat.
Colorado Brewing Co./Draft House: 44 Pale Ale (Silver). Boulder's former Redfish Brewhouse nabs an award for its American-style pale ale.
Coors Brewing: Keystone Ice (Gold), Coors Banquet (Gold), Keystone Light (Silver), Killian's Red (Silver), Pre-Pro (Silver). Laugh if you will, but this is the 2009 large brewing company of the year, and it virtually swept the American-style specialty lager category.
Dry Dock Brewing: Bismark Altbier (Gold), U-Boat Hefeweizen (Silver), Reines Marzen (Silver). This amazing Aurora success story - it won a World Beer Cup medal less than a year after opening - is now the well-deserved 2009 small brewing company of the year.
Durango Brewing: Durango Colorfest (Gold). Growing in recognition for every medal it wins, it reaped gold with its American-style amber lager this year.
Glenwood Canyon Brewing: Cardiff (Gold) and Carbonator (Bronze). A pair of awards for its strong beer and German-style doppelbock, respectively.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group: Czech Pilsner (Silver), Dunkles (Silver), Alt Bier (Bronze), Golden Export (Bronze). Bet you didn't know that this national chain's head brewer is located in Broomfield.
Great Divide Brewing: Yeti Imperial Stout (Silver), Hoss rye beer (Bronze), Old Ruffian Barley Wine (Bronze). Nothing surprising about the recognition for Yeti (except that it didn't win gold), but the big kudos go to the terribly drinkable Hoss, introduced just two months ago.
Left Hand Brewing: Smokejumper (Gold). Highly smoked with a heavy body, this is an imperial stout that will leave you thinking about it.
Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery: Temperance (Bronze). A very satisfying American-Belgo-Style Ale that doesn't lean too heavily toward either of its nationalities of origin.
New Belgium Brewing: NBB Love (Silver). My one complaint about New Belgium: This is the second year in a row that it's won a medal for a beer that it wasn't serving on the floor (or at least it wasn't advertised). And I would have loved to try this German-style sour ale.
Rockyard Brewing: Double Eagle Ale (Bronze). A thick American-style wheat beer wins for this underrated brewery.
Ska Brewing: Buster Nut Brown (Silver), True Blonde Ale (Bronze), Steel Toe Stout (Bronze). Brown ale, summer ale, sweet stout: The Durango brewery triumphs in a variety of categories.
The Sandlot: Move Back (Gold), Where the Helles Bill? (Silver), Greenside Up (Silver). Coors Field's brewery is like one of those independent-film producers that flies under the radar and then scoops up Academy Awards every year. This year it won for its German-style Oktoberfest, Munich-style helles and German-style Oktoberfest, respectively. Yes, that's right: two medals in the same category.
Trinity Brewing: TPS Report (Gold). A barrel-aged wild yeast sour beer wins the Colorado Springs brewery a medal in the experimental beer category.
Upslope Brewing: Upslope Dunkel Weizen (Bronze) and Time of the Season (Bronze). Like Colorado Boy, this Boulder upstart is less than a year old. And not only does it medal with its German-style wheat ale, it takes one for its well-balanced Belgian-American ale made with a homebrewer and entered in the pro-am competition.


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