Saturday, September 26, 2015
There's something just a little more chaotic on Friday than on Thursday at the Great American Beer Festival. Being a part of that makes you want to move a little more rapidly between booths, search just a little harder for the next great beer and toss over the side those things that aren't quite hitting.
With that said, here are a few things that stood out on the second, hectic, fun-filled day of the largest beer festival in America.
* Sometimes the line is worth it.
The lengthy waits for beers have shifted from just the usual dozen or so (Russian River, Dogfish Head, New Glarus, etc.) to some up-and-comers. One that is worth the wait is Funky Buddha. Another beer writer described the Florida beer maker well as brewing every day the types of beers that most breweries make only as one-offs. Last Snow, a coconut and coffee porter that is teeming with both tastes in ways that others of its genre are not, is an example of what makes it so good.
* Shockingly short lines
Then again, there are still a number of booths the general GABF public somehow hasn't seemed to find. While lines at The Bruery stretch 30 people long, there was virtually no one last night at Bruery Terreux, the experimental arm of that brewery that produces gems like the uber-tart, cherry-rich Sans Pagaie. Similarly, one can slip easily in and out of Melvin Brewing, a multiple-award winner for its hoppy beers that is serving up incredibly fresh but balanced treats like its 2x4 double IPA.
* Embrace the cucumber.
In the past month especially, it's seemed that more breweries are using the crisp, green vegetable as an ingredient in a wide variety of styles. From the cucumber basil kolsch Horse and Dragon created to a cucumber gose on tap at Spangalang, these places are doing it well. But nothing is as eye-popping as Odd 13's Humulus Kalecumber, a sour ale with kale and cucumber that manages to bring out the freshness of the vegetable while lighting up your taste buds. Give in; you know you want it.
* An off-premises star
Speaking of Spangalang, it's worth noting that the less-than-3-month-old Five Points brewery isn't at the GABF this year because it thought it was too soon to make the investment. But while leading a bus tour of out-of-town beer writers yesterday, we stopped in there and found the taproom packed in mid-afternoon. It's easy to see why. From its Brett-fermented, fresh-hopped, peach-packed kettle sour (Colorado Junction) to its sour laced with cherry and rose water (Pure Funk), it's making beers that beg to be noticed, even outside the main hall.