Sunday, October 06, 2013

Must-hit events during Great American Beer Festival week

If you have all the time in the world, you can scan through every event listed on the Denver Post or Westword Great American Beer Festival calendars and pick a few to put on your to-do list. But if you're like most people, you might prefer a few suggestions on what to do in the coming week, which Visit Denver sponsors as Denver Beer Fest.

Here, then, are a few ideas of how to find the best beer around the Thursday-Saturday festival without actually having to go into the festival.

1) Go to "Beers Made by Walking"
Maybe the most unique event before the 2012 GABF was Focus on the Beer's gathering of 10 beers, inspired by hikes, for which area brewers used fascinating ingredients like chokecherries and sumac. And this year, Eric Steen has ramped up the count to 17 different breweries using everything from dandelion to wild nectarines. Running from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Wynkoop Brewing, the event is worth far more than its $30 ticket price.

2) Find out-of-town breweries tapping their wares
This happens more than you think with breweries that otherwise are not available in Colorado. Sun King Brewery of Indiana will tap its barrel-aged goods at Falling Rock Tap House (9 p.m. Wednesday) and Freshcraft (4 p.m. Saturday), among others. Freshcraft also will host a Cigar City tapping, along with some rarer New Belgium offerings, at noon Thursday.

3) Find in-town breweries tapping one-of-a-kind offerings
So far, the most interesting include: Great Divide tapping Rhine & Heart American Sour (10 a.m. Saturday);  Falling Rock tapping Trinity Brewing's immensely sour Old Growth (5 p.m. Tuesday) and Odyssey Beerwerks tapping a Pina Colada Hefeweizen (all day Friday).

4. Drown yourself in barleywines
Well, don't really submerse yourself in the strongest and often most complex of beer styles. But if you love you some barleywine, the Rackhouse Pub will pit 30 barleywines from Colorado against the same number from California, starting at 10 a.m . Thursday and running through the end of the week. And the only real winner here is your taste buds.

5. Enjoy tap takeovers at restaurants not normally swimming in craft beer
Many places will have this, but maybe none so intriguing as Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza, which will offer eight Odell Brewing beers, including harder-to-find Mountain Standard Black IPA and Wellspring Saison Ale. Pair them with the Coal-Fired Lemoncello Wings or the Pizza Del Pappa - stacked with roasted bell peppers and smoked bufala mozzarella on roasted butternut squash - and it's everything you could want from a drinking experience.

6) Step away from the festival for a night
More events are going on simultaneously with the Great American Beer Festival this year than anyone can remember. On Thursday evening alone, you could hit a 50-firkin fest at Epic Brewing, a barleywine fest at Renegade Brewing or cheese pairing with River North Brewery at Stapleton Tap House.

7) Recover well on Sunday
Most brewers want to crawl into bed for a week after the GABF ends on Saturday night. Odell Brewing is hosting a 9 a.m. brunch on Sunday at Highland Tap and Burger, however, and Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids is inviting California hop king Green Flash up to Longmont at 11 a.m. Sunday to help it ring out the festivities.

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For a taste of Asheville, NC, go to the Hi-Dive Friday night for a tapping of a New Belgium/Wicked Weed collaboration beer made with wheat from Asheville's Riverbend Malt House. Free for GABF ticket holders.
Thanks for the suggestion, David. I'll add it to my lengthy list of things to do.
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