Tuesday, September 12, 2017
It may seem like mid-summer still, but the Great American Beer Festival is just slightly more than three weeks away. And while you can hold off most decisions about which events you want to attend until the last minute, Wednesday is the final day to decide whether you have what it takes to be the Wynkoop Brewing Co. Beer Drinker of the Year.
Denver's oldest brewpub began bestowing the crown in 1999, dragging professional-level imbibers before a cadre of robed and wigged judges to test their knowledge of the brewing arts, as well as their ability to woo a panel while they were several beverages into the evening. What began as a stand-alone event morphed into an annual ritual during the week that the beer world comes to Denver, and today the contest stands out as one of the intellectual highlights of the week, forcing people to rationalize the habits their mothers-in-law criticize and show how important suds knowledge can be.
The 18th annual contest returns the night before GABF officially begins, Oct. 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lower Downtown brewery. But Wynkoop is looking right now for contestants willing to take an entry quiz to see if they can make it into the three finalists, and the brewery co-founded by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will pay for that trio's travel expenses to come to the Mile High City.
What does the contest mean? Bragging rights, first of all, as no one else is crowning a beer drinker of the year during the greatest beer week on the calendar. Also, being a part of tradition - and being a part of good fun that taxes your brain a little bit while it's busy roundhouse-kicking your liver. Oh, and did I mention that you get free beer for life at Wynkoop? Yes, seriously.
Sometimes the questions go to the history of brewing. Sometimes they tend toward the magical, such as past queries in which the contestants are asked to be beer whisperers. And sometimes they get to the very heart of contests, asking participants what they could use to bribe a judge the best.
Think this describes you? Sign up. And you still have seven other nights during Denver Beer Week to blow out your taste buds without having to remember whether you lager cold or hot.