In all the hooplah of writing about pre-fest hot dogs, my pre-festival sours class, and my post-festival New Belgium tour, I forgot one very important part of my trip to Denver.
The ACTUAL Great American Beer Festival itself!!
I promise, it was more beautiful than this when I walked inside.
Thanks to BeerGram’s generosity, I had tickets to the festival and was able to bring my tiny buddy, Melissa. We also had a girlfriend, Imee, to round out the crew. We were ready for anything the brewers had to bring.
I’m a gentle giant.
The brewers…. they were ready for us as well. There was literally something for every possible tastebud and beer lover.
Goose Island’s Gingerbread Dream? Come to mama.
Prima Pils + Snyder’s Sourdough: Basic Math
One of the very best parts was the beer and pretzel pairing featuring Great Divide, Flying Dog, and hometown hero, Victory Brewing Company! And that’s just the beer…. My long-time love, Snyders of Hanover, provided honey twists, classic Sourdough pretzels, and YUMMY flavored pretzel pieces!
There was the GABF Brewpub Pavilion, complete with samples of snacks to pair with beer. One of my favorites? Barely Buzzed Beehive CHEESE!
Utah, you do good on the cheese front.
I met some fantastic folks. Namely?
Bill Covaleski, President and Brewmaster from Victory Brewing Company. He’s still working on figuring out the perfect pairing for a Philly soft pretzel….
Another little beer lady!
Andrea Sanchez-Reyes, the founder and CEO of Beergram (and my benefactor!)
And, don’t worry, I repped my friends/family of #NCBeer to the best of my ability. At one point, dissatisfied with their lack of knowledge about Sexual Chocolate, I actually ended up behind the Foothills Brewing booth, lecturing newbs to the benefits of my favorite Winston-Salem brewery.
Sorry for the phone pic, but we were in the zone. the fun, Foothills zone.
Movember even made a little appearance, a few weeks early.
No Shave November? No shave NEVER!
It was, without question, the most fun I’ve ever had at a beer festival.
It was the first time that I went in with the mindset:
HEY! If you don’t like this beer, just pour it out. Don’t force yourself to drink every sample. When they overpour for you, don’t feel bad pouring some out. You’re not offending ANYONE. Bonus? No blacking out or feeling ill the next day.
The result? I left the festival just as excited and happy as when I came. I was happy as a clown, but (slightly) less silly than one.
There were pieces that weren’t great. I REFUSED to wait in the lines for Cigar City and Dogfish, as they were running anywhere from 30-45 minutes, and that just seemed a little outrageous. I figure I can always take a road trip to DE (and a much longer one to Florida) if I REALLY need to try those beers.
One of the MAJOR highlights? The line for the ladies’ room was like, 1/3 the length of the one for the men’s room. Seriously, this event was a sausage fest.
(at one point, quite literally, thanks to New Holland’s salami samples!)
After getting my fill of all the wild flavors some breweries were offering (gingerbread, green chili, peanut butter cup, strawberry, sage, keffir lime!! WHOAH!) I ended my night the way the only way that made sense; parked in front of the Bear Republic booth, sipping Racer 5 IPA until last call. Couldn’t have been more perfect.
My buddies at Bear Republic let me pose with their sweet ride….
After hot dogs, beer education, and 3.5 hours at the festival, I think it’s no surprise I slept like a baby. I’m already scheming how I’ll get back next year…. If you can do it, I think GABF is NOT to be missed if you’re interested in craft beer.
What’s the wackiest flavor of beer you’ve ever tried?
I gotta say the Sage Saison from Epic Brewing was pretty wild….
If you’re not a beer person, ever try any of those wackadoo flavored vodkas?