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GABF 2014: Best In Show

I was impressed by Short's Brewing from Bellaire, Michigan.

I was impressed by Short’s Brewing from Bellaire, Michigan.

I’ve been to the Great American Beer Festival for the past several years. Normally I don’t run into too much of a problem paring down my list of favorites…but this year is proving to be the most challenging yet. Perhaps it’s that, with all the beer drinking I do on a regular basis, my palate is improving. Or maybe it’s that breweries are brewing better and better beer. Or–most likely–a combination of both. Regardless, this is a good problem to have! So I’ll just go with it and share all of the ones that I truly loved.

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Without a doubt, one of my top picks is Belching Beaver‘s Peanut Butter Milk Stout. I usually end up with a peanut butter beer on my final list, which is no surprise considering my love of beers that taste like food. But this one blew me away! So much peanut butter, exactly as it should be. And an exciting side note: Belching Beaver won this year’s Alpha King Challenge with their double IPA Pound Town. Congratulations!

2014 Alpha King Champs! Belching Beaver.

2014 Alpha King Champs! Belching Beaver.

Next up: Bourbon Carrot Cake from Short’s Brewing. Another beer that tastes like food?! But of course! Bourbon Carrot Cake is a dessert ale made with carrots, marshmallow, vanilla, maple syrup, orange zest, walnuts, pecans and spices and then aged in bourbon barrels. While it might not be for everyone, I feel it is something that can certainly appeal to craft beer lovers as well as those who “don’t like beer.” I only wish I could get my hands on some to test out this theory! Short’s won a Gold in the Experimental category for their Key Lime Pie. Way to go!
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Since I seem to be on a roll with beers brewed with food, this would be a good time to mention the Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine by Almanac Beer Co.. I don’t consider myself to be a big fan of barleywines in general; I find most of them are too sweet for me. But I didn’t run into that with the Heirloom Pumpkin. I thought it was quite easy to drink, which could be dangerous considering it’s actually 12% ABV.

Pretzel necklaces: great for cleansing the palate. Necklaces with jerkey, cheese crackers, candy, etc. = you're too cheap to buy food. I loved these guys' idea for bread necklaces! Different, yet practical.

Pretzel necklaces: great for cleansing the palate. Necklaces with jerkey, cheese crackers, candy, etc. = you’re too cheap to buy food. I loved these guys’ idea for bread necklaces! Different, yet entirely practical.

Not a food beer, but a delicious combination of coffee and beer: Coffee IPA from FATE Brewing. This is a local beer brewed just 30 minutes away in Boulder, Colorado. Why would I “waste” time stopping at a booth whose beer is a but half hour drive away? Because it’s just that good. And FATE doesn’t currently distribute this beer, so it was definitely worth a trip (or three) to their booth. A shout out to them for winning a Gold for their Laimas Kolsch!

The crew from Black Star Co-op in Austin.

The crew from Black Star Co-op in Austin.

I have a special fondness for Texas beer. Having family & friends there, it’s the one place I’ve spent more time than anywhere else outside of Colorado. And my favorite thing to do while there is to explore the craft beer scene. One in particular really did it for me at GABF, and that was Benedictum from Real Ale Brewing Company. This sour brown with tart cherries is part of Real Ale’s Mysterium Verum (Latin translation: Real Mystery) barrel aged series. Very solid sour ale. I will be looking for this during my upcoming Austin trip–fingers are crossed that I’ll find some!

Saint Arnold Brewing Company (Texas' Oldest Craft Brewery) brought this chapel where people could actually wed at the festival.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company (Texas’ Oldest Craft Brewery) brought this chapel where people could actually wed at the festival.

Over the past several months I’ve begun to realize what an outstanding barrel-aging program Avery Brewing has. There have been many Sundays I’ve made the trip up to Boulder for their special releases, and the one that I constantly rave about is Opuntia, a tequlia barrel-aged sour. Pretty much every sour I’ve had from Avery has been top-notch, but the combination of prickly pear and tequila makes Opuntia one of the most unique tasting sours I’ve ever had.
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I don’t have any specific order for my favorite beers at this year’s GABF. I consider every beer mentioned above to be “amazing.” And here are some more for you:

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I know there were so many more worthwhile beers present. If only I was somehow capable of sampling them all! But I can only do so much, and I’m anything but disappointed in the beers I elected to try at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. Check out my Facebook album for a few more photos. Until next year!

GABF Media Luncheon 2014

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I’ve attended the Great American Beer Festival for several years and, for the past couple, have provided coverage on my blog. But this year was definitely different in that I was granted a media pass for the very first time, thereby giving me the privilege of being part of the GABF Media Briefing and Luncheon.

Vegetarian starter. Not sure what it is, as it wasn't listed on the menu.

Vegetarian starter. Not sure what it is, as it wasn’t listed on the menu. But it sure was good! Paired with Serenity from Wicked Weed and Opal from Firestone Walker.

Throughout the working lunch we were given lots of great information by the Brewers Association‘s Craft Beer Program Director Julia Herz. It was great to listen to the panel discussions with knowledgeable brewers and brewery representatives during the meal.

Granny Smith Apple with Ginger and Grapefruit. Paired with Berliner Weisse, Napoleon Complex by the Brewers Association Team Homebrew.

Granny Smith Apple with Ginger and Grapefruit. Paired with Berliner Weisse, Napoleon Complex by the Brewers Association Team Homebrew.

I love beer and food pairings, so I was excited to attend this event. The pairings were so well thought out. I really appreciated that they were able to accommodate the vegetarians in the group, and the food was anything but boring. I truly enjoyed every course!

Vegetarian main course: Grilled Portobello stuffed with green chile quinoa & queso fresco, smoked tomatillo salsa verde and crispy shallot. Paired with Black Eagle Baltic Porter by Black Tooth Brewing and Old Tom Porter by Piney River Brewing.

Vegetarian main course: Grilled Portobello stuffed with green chile quinoa & queso fresco, smoked tomatillo salsa verde and crispy shallot. Paired with Black Eagle Baltic Porter by Black Tooth Brewing and Old Tom Porter by Piney River Brewing.

While all the food looked wonderful, our dessert was beautiful! It was called Dusty Miller Semifreddo with warm toffee sauce, paired with Balt Altbier from Union Craft Brewing and Tsunami Stout from Pelican Pub & Brewery. I tried to select just one photo to upload, but I couldn’t choose. So here are a couple:


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The 2014 GABF Media Briefing and Luncheon was fantastic! Thank you to everyone involved for a job well done!
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The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Happy Hour

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Author John Schlimm has a new cookbook, The Ultimate Beer Lovers Happy Hour. And he’s celebrating with the Ultimate Beer Lover’s Oktoberfest Blog Tour. You could win The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Oktoberfest Party Pack (US & Canada only) by entering a Rafflecopter giveaway. The contest has already begun and runs through November 7th. Check out some of these awesome prizes:

Ultimate Beer Lover’s Oktoberfest Prize Pack items:

  • 1 signed copy of The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Happy Hour by John Schlimm
  • 2 Humane Society of the US T-shirts (1 male M, 1 female M)
  • Lucky Brand Jeans Gift card for 1 free pair of jeans
  • 6 Straub Brewery Pilsner Glasses
  • Coleman soft cooler with hard liner (red)
  • Weber Barbecue Apron, black
  • 1 OXO Steel Bottle Opener
  • Set of 2 wooden snack bowls
  • Set of 4 wooden coasters

I personally love cooking with beer and think this cookbook looks amazing! Here are a couple of sample recipes to make your mouth water:

Horseradish Mustard

Hippie Cayenne Sourdough Pretzels

Like what you see? The Ultimate Beer Lovers Happy Hour is packed full of delicious beer-infused recipes that you will want to make–repeatedly. Enter to win here at a Rafflecopter giveaway. And order your copy of this awesome cookbook today!

Get Home Safe With UBER: GABF Code for First-Time Riders

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It’s time for the Great American Beer Festival! There’s nothing quite like 4+ hours of sampling dozens (hundreds?) of beers from all over the country. It is such a unique, fun experience. But when it comes time to leave, there is nothing fun about driving under the influence. There are plenty of ways to avoid ending up with a DUI or getting into an accident, so please be sure you have a safe way home after a day or night of imbibing. This year, Uber is offering all first-time customers $25 off their first ride. Just use the code GABF2014 when you sign up here. What a deal! Why not take advantage of this great offer from Uber during this weekend packed full of beer events?! Go out and enjoy all of the festivities, but first: sign up with this special code today to get home safe and sound.

Hungry for Beer? Downtown Denver Restaurants Have You Covered!

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Fish & Chips at Wazee Supper Club

Attending the Great American Beer Festival? Or simply enjoying some of the many other fantastic beer events downtown Denver this week? If so, why not stop into one of these great local establishments for some tasty food made with beer from some of Colorado’s finest breweries?! All of these Denver restaurants are within walking distance from the Festival and are ready to serve you some delicious beer-infused dishes.

  • Stop in to Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar in LoDo (1539 17th St.), where they’re cooking up tasty Steamed Penn Cove Mussels with Hey Pumpkin Porter from Denver Beer Company for the month of October to celebrate GABF. This new-for-fall recipe is created in Denver’s only behind the bar steam kettles to produce the perfect temperature for steaming mussels. This cool weather dish includes fennel sausage, mushrooms, dijon, fennel pollen or panang curry, peanuts, cilantro and coconut milk to enhance the beer’s flavor. Also new at Jax on the starter menu are the Pickled Sardines, featuring Rye Bread made with local Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout. The traditional bread blends particularly well with the smooth, dark and delicious milk stout from the Longmont, Colorado brewer. The savory dish also features pickled vegetables, boiled eggs and dill butter.
  • Denver’s best rooftop, bar and Green also houses one of the Ballpark neighborhood’s best kept secret – the fresh, creative and upscale bar food served at ViewHouse (2015 Market Street) For a food-centric GABF experience, try Executive Chef Jose Guerrero’s simply-named Fish & Chips, coated with craft five barrel beer battered cod, alongside the house-made malt tartar sauce, crisp cole slaw, and ViewHouse zesty fries. Light, salty, and flaky, this is a beer lover’s natural.
  • Stop in at Wazee Supper Club (1600 15th St.) where they’re mixing Breckenridge Brewery Agave Wheat to create the popular Beer Battered Fish & Chips. The agave complements the refreshing wheat and adds a note of flavor that expands the batter for the fish and chips in this familiar dish. Wazee Supper Club just celebrated their 40th anniversary and continues to offer food and drink favorites to Denverites. The knowledgeable bar staff at Wazee Supper Club recommend pairing the Beer Battered Fish & Chips with a White Rascal, Avery Brewing Company from Boulder.
  • The Alehouse at Amato’s  (2501 16th Street) serves up a beer battered fish and chips using the their own hoppy Breckenridge IPA in the batter. The beer infused batter protects the delicious cod fillets leaving them tender and moist while providing a crunchy, beer-luscious inspired wrapper. Served with fries, sweet n sour slaw, and tartar sauce.
Mussels at Jax

Mussels at Jax

Raise a Glass for GABF!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Glass is Life for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

As the Great American Beer Festival approaches, my thoughts turn to hundreds of different beers that will be poured at the fest. And as I sit here thinking about it, I sip on my favorite beer of all time: Modus Hoperandi by Ska Brewing. Nothing feels better than taking a moment to relax and kick back with a glass of my beverage of choice. And while I don’t necessarily spend too much time thinking about glass each time I pour a drink, it has recently been at the forefront of my mind thanks to one of the sponsors of the Great American Beer Festival, Glass Is Life.

Glassware is a big part of any beer drinker’s daily life. I always enjoy opening my cabinets and choosing the perfect glass for the beer I’m drinking at the time. Do I want a snifter? A mug? A tulip? My Modus is in a Shaker pint glass today, as it usually is, because I enjoy the overall versatility of this particular glass. The pint glass is sturdy, reliable and very agreeable to most styles.

When I tip back my glass and take a drink of Modus Hoperandi, I know that I am tasting exactly what the brewers intended. Ska specifically uses brown glass bottles for Modus, protecting the beer from being compromised by light so that is is delivered to its consumers in its purest form. The use of glass is extremely important and ensures the integrity of the beer is uncompromised. Glass + beer = perfect partners. So raise a glass of your favorite beer today, tomorrow, and all week in celebration of glass, beer, and the Great American Beer Festival. Cheers!

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Best in Show: The Standouts of GABF 2013

coloradobeergirl:

And here are my choices for Best in Show from GABF 2013

Originally posted on coloradobeergirl:

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This year I entered the hall of the Great American Beer Festival at approximately 5:45, ready to try as many of the beers/breweries on my list as I possibly could before 10 p.m. It’s always a fun challenge, and I did stop by a majority of the booths I’d hoped to. However, four hours just isn’t enough time to taste the hundreds of beers I wish I could. I tried my best, and I had a lot of great stuff. So, of all the beers I tasted that evening, here are some of the ones that really stuck out to me:

  • Propitation Barrel Aged Sour Porter (sour porter?!?!) by Russian River
  • The Martians Kidnap Santa Egg Nog Stout (so unique!), and Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout (this was on my list last year as well) by Spring House Brewing (this brewery is excellent)
  • Hoponious Union IPL by Jack’s Abby…

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