"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Great American Beer Festival 2012: Pt. 3

The last night of Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is bittersweet; beer geeks are in a flurry of activity during the three-day event, meeting new people and drinking new beer but, when Saturday’s nigh,  the sense of the festivals’ impending cessation becomes palpable.  However, as a certain quotable Yankee once said, “it aint over till it’s over”—the party don’t stop till 10 o’clock!

Before the final night of debauchery, Nicole and I attended the GABF awards ceremony for our first time.  Casual drinkers may wonder why anybody would want to listen to speeches from industry leaders, watch a bunch of brewers receive medals, but not actually drink beer.  A beer-less beer event?  What’s the point?  I suppose it’s for the same reason a movie buff might attend the Academy Awards even though no actual movies are shown or why America’s obese go to see live tapings of their favorite cooking shows—in these situations, none of the aficionados are experiencing their passion first-hand but they are surrounded by their heroes and like-minded enthusiasts; that’s where they get their fix and that’s how beer geeks get their fix at the GABF awards ceremony. 

But I lied!  There actually was beer served at the awards ceremony albeit in small quantities.  It wasn’t any old beer, either; it was Porter’s Pride, the beer awarded to all 2012 GABF medalistsNicole and I got two bottles at Friday’s media luncheon but, until the ceremony, we’d yet to drink it.

The ceremony crowd shuffles in

Porter’s Pride is named in honor of Danny Williams, the GABF cellar master who succumbed to cancer earlier this year.  I, like most people in the room, didn’t know Danny on a personal level but there were, nonetheless, quite a few misty eyes when, at the ceremony’s commencement, thousands of hands raised a cup of Porter’s Pride and toasted to his legacy.

The rest of the ceremony progressed much as one would expect: the winners for each category were announced, honorees took the stage, had a picture taken with Charlie Papazian, and were handed a bottle of Porter’s Pride.  As brewers received their coveted prizes, Nicole and I made note of the medaling beers we wanted to try during the Saturday night session and made sure to cheer especially loud for every winning Colorado brewery.  I am Hoosier by birth so I gave my due respects to the Indiana breweries, too, but The Crossroads of America wasn’t representing as well as it did last year

A funny and slightly awkward incident occurred when medalists for the American-Style Lager, Light Lager or Premium Lager category were announced.  The top three beers were, in ascending order, Keystone Light, Miller Lite, and Pabst Blue Ribbon (perhaps now Pabst Gold Medal?) and, when that information sank in, a rolling chuckle swept through the room; the audience couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of honoring these corporate giants; GABF should be about supporting relatively small craft brewers, not praising their oppressors.

GABF is a celebration of the art of craft beer, why does this category even exist?  As far as I’m concerned, to award a medal for best American lager, light lager, or premium lager is to exalt mediocrity.  Technically speaking, these types of lagers are actually very difficult to brew because their flavorless character means all imperfections are noticeable.  However, difficulty does not automatically equal quality; I imagine there’s a certain level of exertion put forth in deep-frying a stick of butter but that doesn’t mean you should deep-fry butter or that you should to put that grotesqueness in your mouth.  It’s like McDonald’s showing up at a neighborhood burger cook-off and winning “Most Hormonally Pumped-Up Beef”; it’s not a prestigious victory, it just means you’re the best of the worst.
Nicole especially liked the name of the bronze medalist

Of the 51 entrants in the American-Style Lager, Light Lager or Premium Lager category, I wonder how many were from craft breweries.  For the reasons stated above, few artisan brewers bother with this type of beer; they prefer complexity, flavor, and, dare I say, class when formulating recipes.  Still, I’m issuing a challenge to three craft breweries with mettle; develop and refine the perfect American-style lager, light lager, or premium lager, enter it into the 2013 GABF, and shove the big breweries out of the spotlight.  Just make a small batch, the only people who need to taste it are GABF judges. 

To monolithic, faceless breweries, GABF medals are inconsequential; their sales and public exposure will stay relatively constant regardless of accolades accrued.  They don’t need a medal to be successful, just a population of beer drinkers with undiscerning taste.  This is not so true for start-up breweries; awards can do much in the way of attracting attention from both beer geeks and casual drinkers thus stirring up business.  Beat the big guys at their own game, craft breweries, and keep them out of the top three. 

Our parking meter was running out and Nicole and I couldn’t stay until the end so, unfortunately, we missed Funkwerks receiving the award for Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year.  Represent!

Wynkoop tantalizes beer geeks waiting in line 
The Saturday night session wasn’t much different than Thursday night save for the fact that our group was larger (including a GABF virgin who needed to be corralled from time to time) and the crowd was rowdier.  We managed to taste a number of medalists before they got sucked dry (including the gold medalist in the homebrew category) and, once again, Nicole and I ran into these two beer-loving friends that always seem to pop-up wherever we may be.  I forget their names—which is okay because they forgot mine, too—but, for the fourth random time (we also met them at Hops & Pie, last year’s GABF, and River North Brewery), we coincidentally crossed paths in a beer-y location.  Considering the size of GABF, that’s one impressive happenstance. 

The biggest complaint most beer geeks have about Saturday’s GABF is that it’s usually attended by party people, drunkards, frat bros, and other assorted unsavory individuals; it’s supposed to be an event to savor beer and get a little drunk, not a place to slam as many beer’s as humanly possible and make a drunken ass of yourself.  The fault lies mostly in the person acting a fool but, while 99.99% of the GABF volunteers do an excellent job, there was, unfortunately, one subpar pourer.  I approached her booth and, seeing she was pouring from a bottle with the label turned in such a way that I could not see it, I asked about its name and style.  She answered flatly, “does it matter?”  Does it matter?  Yes, lady, it absolutely matters!  I prefer to know what goes into my body.  Nobody expects you to prevent d-bags from getting wasted but your blasé attitude excuses indiscriminate drinking and encourages the negative image beer geeks have of Saturday night.  In so many words, I explained again that I would please like to know the beer’s style.  It turned out to be a red ale of some sort.  Now, was that so hard?  I reiterate, though, that this dingbat was the exception—GABF volunteers, as a whole, rock my socks.

Before long, the lights went up, the doors opened, the pitchers were put away, and the throngs of revelers were ushered outside.  So ended another GABF and, in my opinion, the best one yet!  This was the first time I attended a Thursday session, the first time I attended the media luncheon, the first time I attended the awards ceremony, and, when it was all over, I realized I had delved deeper into the world of GABF than I ever had before.  Thank you, GABF, for another sud-soaked weekend; I’m already looking forward to 2013.



This year, I saw GABF from a different perspective: as the designated driver. Don’t worry, I was still able to sneak a few tiny sips of the beers I really wanted to try such as 21st Amendment Brewery’s Hell or High Watermelon; I’ve been searching for that beer for years and came so close this summer when we were at Bruisin’ Ales in North Carolina but the store had just run out of it.  I had another opportunity to enjoy Rivertown Brewing Company’s Roebling which I had when we were in Cincinnati on that same trip that took us to North Carolina. It’s definitely a beer for those with a sweet tooth. It tastes like a brownie with vanilla and some roasted quality. Most of the reviewers on BeerAdvocate hate this beer but that’s fine by me—more for me to drink (that is to say, more for me when I go back to Cincinnati since I can’t get it in Colorado)! I sampled as many pumpkin beers as possible, as well.

My official role for this year’s GABF was that of photographer. Putting my media pass to use, I walked up to strangers—usually dressed eccentrically—and asked to take their picture. It was quite an amusing assignment and it resulted in many blackmail-worthy photos.


If you're "Out of Touch" and don't get the joke, perhaps you should hire some "Private Eyes" but only if you're a "Rich Girl."  Otherwise, "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)." 

Magic Hat indeed!

This is how you want to advertise yourself, Sonoma Springs?

At least there was a happy ending

Words fail me

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Great American Beer Festival 2012: Pt. 2

The revelry of Thursday night was pounding in my head Friday morning.  It’s good I didn’t buy tickets for Friday’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF) session; the day of rest was much needed.  The fact that I wasn’t at the convention center doesn’t mean I wasn’t enjoying GABF, though.  Far from it, Friday was when Nicole and I experienced GABF at its most intimate.  In The Pinnacle Club, at the top of the Grand Hyatt Denver, looking out over the city, we brushed shoulders with politicians, craft brewing VIPs, and other beer journalists as we dined and drank at the GABF media luncheon.

On top of the world, standing higher than the Mile High City, I resisted the urge to emulate Ferris Bueller by pressing my forehead against the enormous panoramic windows.  I’ve never seen my city this way; I’m used to it at street level.  Nicole and I took in the view, pointed out landmarks, and I wondered if the added elevation would lessen our alcohol tolerance even more than the normal 5280’.  It didn’t take long putting the hypothesis to the test; during the pre-luncheon social hour, we sipped on samples of Paparazzi Pale, a wet-hopped homebrew created by the Brewers Association’s Craft Beer Program Director (and speaker at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis) Julia Herz.  The theme of the luncheon was homebrewing and its connection to commercial breweries so it’s fitting we began with such a beer.
Paparazzi Pale

We polished off our samples and were corralled into the dining room.  It was open seating except for a few reserved seats and, as we passed by, I glanced at the names printed on those little paper tents.  Oh.  My.  God.  I was geeking out hard and about to go into convulsions!  Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, Kim Jordan from New Belgium Brewing, president of the Brewers Association and founder of GABF Charlie Papazian, and Gov. John Hickenlooper!  Talk about a cast of all-stars!  If you’re reading this beer blog and don’t realize the importance of those names then do five minutes of research and you’ll understand why I’m fawning like a schoolgirl.  These are giants of craft beer and for me to be in the same room as them is like a basketball fan meeting Michael Jordan, a rock n’ roll groupie brushing shoulders with Mick Jagger, or a chubby-chasing elementary school Casanova getting Honey Boo Boo’s autograph.

I don’t wish to downplay the importance of the small brewery representatives, though; quite to the contrary, I’m a bigger proponent of small breweries than I am of national breweries.  Small, local beer makers are hands-on and experimental resulting in unique, fresh, ever-evolving beer.  Don’t worry, every brewery will get their due mention in this post but, c’mon, those other people are famous; I laud your businesses, small brewery owners, but I’m not going to be star-struck over you.      

After Julia Herz and Kim Jordan gave their spiels on the state of craft beer, Kevin Crompton from Epic Brewing in Salt Lake City took the stage, discussed his brewery, and served his 2011 silver medal-winning Brainless on Peaches (actually, all the beers poured at the luncheon were former medalists; only the best for the media!) which is heavy on the eponymous fruit and that’s a compliment.  I learned a little more on the bass-ass-backwardness of Utah law, too; a beer of certain alcohol content cannot be served on tap thus, if you visit the Epic taproom, all beers must be served from bottles.  We’re in a craft beer renaissance but there are still patches of this country stuck in the dark ages.  He also mentioned something that I’m not sure I’m supposed to talk about yet but, hell, he said it in front of a bunch of beer journalists so he can’t expect the secret to stay in the room: Epic is working on opening a second brewery in Colorado.  There.  I said it.

Next was Scott Baer of Telegraph Brewing Company pouring California Ale paired with braised pork belly, caramelized onions, cherry and California Ale jus, and a pretzel smeared with Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy cheese.  The beer was great but I could’ve eaten that pork belly off a heap of garbage and still called it a scrumptious dish.

Randy Mosheranother presenter from the Indy Beer Bloggers Conference—then spoke about 5 Rabbit Cerveceria which seeks to reinvent Latin American beers.  There are beers that come from Mexico and other Latin countries but, despite what Del Norte Brewing Co. tries to tell you, there are no real Latin American beer styles, only Latin American-made imitations of European beers.  5 Rabbits uses authentic ingredients to invent new styles of beers featuring flavors familiar to our amigos down south.  Their “Müerzen” beer Vida y Muerte, brewed with dulce de leche and Mexican Cinnamon, pairs excellently with pumpkin sorbet made with Breckenridge Brewery’s Autumn Ale.
Vida y Muerte

Strolling up to the podium in his trademark, worn-out tennis shoes, Gov. John Hickenlooper—former mayor of Denver and founder of Wynkoop Brewing Company—spoke on craft beer's economic impact.  For example, when he opened the doors to Wynkoop in 1988, his rent was $1 per square foot indicating how rough that part of town was at the time.  Today, in large part due to the brewery’s influence, the LoDo neighborhood boasts an MLB stadium, countless shops, restaurants, and bars frequented by yuppies and hipsters, and metered parking that’ll cost you more than Wynkoop’s original monthly rent.  If that doesn’t impress you, then consider the fact that, each year, the GABF brings approximately seven million dollars into Denver.  Our economy is in the toilet but might craft beer be our savior?  All signs point to “yes.”
Gov. Hickenlooper

Gov. Hickenlooper also discussed a new campaign the federal government is currently undertaking to “brand America.”  To encourage international tourism, the government is promoting natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone to European and Asian countries (although, having had my communion with nature at Delicate Arch ruined by pop-tune-singing Korean tourists adorned with tight jeans, leather jackets, and anime hairdos, I fear this campaign will succeed); they’re constructing an American ideal foreign visitors will feel compelled to experience.  Through similar, international promotions from other countries, Americans assume no trip to Australia is complete without seeing Ayers Rock, no trip to Italy is complete without a wine tasting, and no trip to Egypt is complete without glimpsing the pyramids.  After Gov. Hickenlooper accompanied U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to the GABF—a sight more awe-inspiring than the Yosemite Valley—it was decided: craft beer will be a part of America’s brand.  No trip to the U.S. is complete without visiting a craft brewery so stop in, rest of the world, and fork over those Euros/Pounds/Yen/Pesos/whatever. 

To assure the crowd, which was comprised of people from all over the country, that Colorado is the king of craft beer, Gov. Hickenlooper rattled off a few statistics such as the fact that California has 300 or so breweries and that Colorado has 168 but California also has seven times the population of Colorado.  When the numbers are crunched and the population taken into consideration, California is actually five times behind Colorado in number of breweries. 
Todd Steven Boera

The governor was followed by Todd Steven Boera of Catawba Valley Brewing Company who, I surmise from his garb and exceptional facial hair, is the reigning king of the hipsters.  He served La Saison Noire, a black saison with bubblegum-like characteristics, and Loretta, brewed with cantaloupe and cayenne peppers.  These beers were paired with the main course, a Viking-sized portion of Cutthroat Porter braised lamb shank.

Jeff Erway of La Cumbre BrewingCompany also spoke during the main course and served Elevated IPA which certainly doesn’t skimp on the hops; four pounds per barrel!

Left to right: Loretta & La Saison Noire

Charlie Papazian said a few words and passed the mic to Gary Glass, the Director of the American Homebrewers Association, who theorized with convincing evidence that the success and diversity of craft beer in America is directly correlated to the increasing population of homebrewers.  The vast majority of homebrewers (and new brewery owners) happen to be younger than thirty—they belong to the “Millennial Generation.”  People have selective memory: the baby boomers were criticized by the previous generation for being damn, dirty hippies but, when the boomers grew up, they continued the vicious cycle by deeming Generation X a bunch of slack-jawed stoners.  Now, Gen X is all grown up and crapping all over the self-absorbed, technology-addicted Millennials.  Hindsight is 20/20 and we know that much of the criticism said of the baby boomers and Gen Xers was unfair but, unfortunately, society hasn’t yet evolved to the point where it realizes busting Millennial chops is the same story, different era.  Considering this generation is currently driving the craft beer industry and considering craft beer is flourishing in a down economy, methinks it’s time Millenials get their due respect.

Next up were Casey Hughes of Flying Fish Brewing Co. pouring Exit 4 and Garrett Marrero of Maui Brewing Co. pouring Liquid Breadfruit paired with dessert: apple crêpes, almond frangipane, and cardamom caramel. 

Lastly, Dave Engbers of Founders Brewing Co. poured Blushing Monk, a delightfully fruity raspberry beer paired with burrata, pear brûlée, and cranberry jam.

Before we left, Julia Herz showed a brief video of Porter’s Pride, the beer awarded to all 2012 GABF medalists, being brewed at Breckenridge Brewery.  Since I was at Breckenridge covering the event for Denver off the Wagon, I had a cameo role in the video and didn’t hesitate to point myself out every time I appeared on screen.  What’s better, we were handed bombers of Porter’s Pride as we left the room!  I reiterate this beer is for the nearly exclusive consumption of GABF medalists: it is not sold in stores and is given to only a very select few.  Nonetheless, Nicole and I have two bottles sitting in our garage refrigerator.  They’re such a rare treat I almost don’t want to drink them.

Stay tuned for posts on the awards ceremony and the Saturday night session.



Lamb shank

Our chefs for the afternoon

A lovely spread of beer

Monday, October 15, 2012

Great American Beer Festival 2012: Pt. 1

It’s that time of the year when beer bloggers—and especially Colorado beer bloggers—are presented with a plethora of possible post topics and little time to actually write said post: it’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF) time!  As if 580 breweries and 2,500+ beers in one space isn’t enough to keep fingers of beer journalists typing at hypersonic speeds there’s also Denver Beer Fest, a city-wide celebration of suds.  Suffice to say, Nicole and I have been very busy and we regret not being able to keep the blog current.  Scratch that, we’re not that remorseful; with all the beer-y good times we’ve been having lately it’s hard to feel sorry about anything.

The shenanigans commenced on October 5th with Mayor Hancock tapping his beer at Denver Beer Co. and they continued into the next day with the Cultivate Festival which, while not being a pure beer festival and not being sponsored by GABF or the Denver Beer Fest, featured enough local craft beer to warrant mentioning in this blog.  Those events, however, were simply warm-ups—stretching exercises before the big game.

I’ve been to three GABF’s before this year but, until 2012, I’ve never been to a Thursday night session.  I’ve always heard Thursday is the best night for beer geeks because the convention floor isn’t crowded with punk-ass frat bros just looking to get smashed.  Instead, the crowd consists mainly of aficionados that take their time and *gasp* actually taste beer rather than slamming it (aficionados still get smashed, of course, but that’s secondary).  In short, Thursday is for true believers and Saturday is for “party people.”  Nicole was unable to attend Thursday but we both went to the Saturday night session regardless of its reputation.

On Thursday, all the volunteers and brewery reps are fresh and rested and happy to talk with guests whereas, during the last night of GABF, they’re worn out and irritated from the constant revelry.  The uncorrupted energy and enthusiasm meant I could chat briefly with reps from BRU Handbuilt Ales and with my personal brewing mentor Tom Hennessy of Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery who expressed mock outrage that one of his former students who opened Echo Brewing Company may defeat him in the Irish-Style Red Ale category, a category in which Tom takes a lot of pride.  The student has indeed become the teacher: Echo took bronze and Colorado Boy was shut-out.  He was rushing to his booth and not able to talk long but I also intercepted CAUTION: Brewing Company’s Danny Wang in the aisle and even saw Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver bustle past at the end of the night like he was trying to beat the crowds.

The Bull & Bush Shriners
Other non-brewing beer people with whom I made contact with include Mike the BrewDad who Nicole and I met at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis, Jeff Blackburn who made his award winning homebrew saison with Funkwerks (which won Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year) last year, “Chipper Dave” Butler of Fermentedly Challenged, and Steve Kurowski of the Colorado Brewers Guild.  Is it  pure luck that I recognize so many individuals in a tremendous crowd?  I like to think it’s because Nicole and I've made so many contacts through beer blogging that, no matter where we go, we’re bound to see people we know.  We’re part of the club now; we have “arrived” as they say.

Always some characters at the silent disco
It’s a task trying to remember the best beers at GABF: one drinks a large variety of beers in short time, it’s nearly impossible keeping it mentally organized.  One’s compromised sobriety doesn’t help memory, either.  Luckily, because I had tickets for more than one night, I didn’t feel as rushed as previous years.  I paced myself and, when possible, marked the names of the beers I was drinking. 

I made a concerted effort to drink at Sun King Brewery early since, due to high demand, they tapped out of almost everything last year.  To my very pleasant surprise, they were serving Popcorn Pilsner—I’ve been searching for that beer for over a year!  The eponymous ingredient is grown by my second cousins and, because of that familial connection, I’ve been on the hunt for this specific beer.  Unfortunately, every time I’m in Indianapolis it’s either too early or too late for the popcorn harvest.  I never thought the first time I’d drink Popcorn Pilsner would be in Denver!

Any Coloradoan worthy of the demonym has indulged in a dish of Rocky Mountain oysters (AKA bull testicles) at least once in his or her life and, although I’m a transplant, I’m still a proud mountain man and have experienced such a meal.  That’s why I wasn’t as grossed out by Wynkoop Brewing Company’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout as were so many flat-lander beer geeks; it tasted essentially like a smoked stout—no discernible ball taste whatsoever (not that I'm the expert).  It’s actually a mighty appetizing brew but, please, do me a favor—don’t quip it has a “nutty” flavor. I’ve seen about a thousand internet comments of people making that same lame pun. 
Even Wynkoop makes dumb puns

I’d never had a beer from Cigar City Brewing before but I’ve heard fantastic reviews; I had to give them a try.  Everybody else at the festival must have had the same idea—the line at their booth looked a mile long!  However, my press pass gave me special privileges.  I forwent the wait and had myself a Cucumber Saison from the side of the booth.  Other than a homebrew I made about a year ago, this was the first cucumber beer I’d tasted and dammit if it’s not one of the most refreshing beers I’ve ever experienced.

I reiterate “one of the most refreshing beers” because Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer from 21st Amendment Brewery—which I’ve been trying to track down for an even longer time than Popcorn Pilsner—also has near-superhuman powers of thirst quenching.  The watermelon flavor is quite pronounced. 

Only a few booths over from 21st Amendment was Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits serving Habanero Sculpin IPAI had a Sculpin on nitro at the taproom last year and the addition of habanero intrigued me.  Heat wimps need not apply, you can taste every bit of that hot pepper although the bittering hops do much to keep the burn in check.

A few briefs mentions of other standouts beers: Wildland Sour from Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant, Helles Keller (a standout because of its oh-so-wrong but oh-so-funny name) from Fredericksburg Brewing Company, Inc., Kashmir Godzilla from Bluegrass Brewing Company, and almost everything at Rivertown Brewing Company.

After GABF,  I went to Blake Street Tavern for Oskar Blues Brewery’s new package release party.  Oskar Blues rocked the craft beer world when they put their beer in aluminum cans and now they’re ruffling more feathers with their new monstrously-sized 19.2 ounce extra-tallboy cans; seriously, these things look like a cylinder of Pringles!  The new packaging—complete with ten tick marks to mark Oskar Blues’ tenth anniversary—was impressive but the real reason I was at Blake Street was to get my hands on The Deuce, the latest collaboration between Oskar Blues and Sun King.  The Deuce, like its predecessor Chaka, is served in resalable, artillery shell cans that almost dwarf the new 19.2 ouncers (almost).  A “hopped up brown ale,” The Deuce is much more “hopped up” than it is “brown”; it is all hops and hardly any of the sweet or nutty or chocolate-y qualities usually found in brown ales.  Aside from it not being pale, The Deuce is essentially an IPA with mega-aromas of pine and a flavor that’s almost minty.
Big, new cans

Before I left I also said hi to Win Bassett from All About Beer Magazine and the NC Brewers Guild who, like BrewDad, I also met at the Beer Bloggers Conference.  It was a loud and dark room and it'd been several months since he last saw me so I'm not sure if he recognized me right away.  That's why I always greet casual acquaintances by first saying my name and where it was we met.  If I'm wearing a hat, I take that off, too.  This strategy helps make the conversation progress less awkwardly; the other person doesn't have to pretend they remember you.   

That’s one night of GABF down and one to go.  Stay tuned for posts about Friday’s media luncheon, the awards ceremony, and the Saturday night session.

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Best beer art ever? Yes.  Yes, it is.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sweet Action's Beer Ice Cream

One would think Denver Beer Fest and Great American Beer Festival would be a dream-come-true for any beer blogger. However, with all of the events packed into one week, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging so forgive the lateness of this post.

Last week, I was excited to get my hands on a six-pack of beer ice cream pints from Sweet Action Ice Cream. I couldn’t resist passing up the opportunity to taste the marriage of beer and ice cream, two of my most favorite things.

Chris picked up my pints of Tiramisu Stout and Russian Rocky Road using beer from Renegade Brewing Company, Scotch Ale Yeti Cake using beer from Great DivideBrewing Co., Oktoberfest Chocolate Chip using beer from Copper Kettle Brewing Company, ESB Oreo using beer from Breckenridge Brewery, and Grizzly Bear using root beer from Rocky Mountain Soda Co. When I got home from work, I conducted a taste test. Although it wasn’t brewed with beer, my favorite is the Grizzly Bear; it has a chocolaty taste with a root beer finish. My second favorite was the Tiramisu Stout which I knew I needed to have as soon as I saw it posted on Sweet Action’s Facebook page and it’s as delicious as I assumed.  With its coffee and chocolate flavors, it’s a rich treat.  Actually, all of the flavors are quite tasty but, of course, we all have our favorites. Perhaps you should visit Sweet Action this afternoon. You’ll need a celebratory pint after the Broncos beat the Chargers in MNF.

In addition to the flavors I purchased there’s also Ginger Beer Lime Sorbet using ginger beer from Rocky Mountain Soda, Sweet Action Ale using beer from Six Point Brewery, Colorado Peach Wheat using beer from Wynkoop Brewing Company, and Vegan Maple Pale Ale using beer from Renegade. Ice cream goes fast at Sweet Action because it really is irresistible; if they don’t have any more beer ice cream then you have two options: 1) wait until next year or 2) check out their other awesome fall inspired flavors.  There’s always something good at Sweet Action!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Lazy Pre-GABF Post

It’s Great American Beer Festival and Denver Beer Fest time; the busiest time of the year for any Colorado-based beer blogger!  As such, I’ve been doing so many beer-related activities that my poor, little fingers are having a hard time moving fast enough to keep this blog updated.  I don’t like doing this but I’m going to take the lazy route and simply link you to some articles I already published for other websites.  Forgive me, dear reader, but there’s too much going on and not enough time to keep you adequately updated on Nicole and I’s adventures in suds.

Who's that handsome stud standing next to the mayor?
Here is a copy-and-pasted article about the Cultivate Festival I sent in to Denver off the Wagon but, with all the other stuff currently going on, I don’t think they’ll ever actually post it:

Anybody who doubts Denver beer geeks are among the most devoted of all brew lovers wasn’t at last Saturday’s Chipotle Mexican Grill-sponsored Cultivate Festival.  Who, besides we burly, mile-high suds-guzzlers would endure hours of sub-freezing temperatures in City Park simply to get our frozen fingers on a sample of local beer?  Who else would wrap themselves in six to seven layers of fleece so that we might enjoy natural, artisanal foods without keeling over from exposure?  While many Americans would curl up by the hearth on such a glacial day, Denver defied Mother Nature’s fury, set forth like Arctic explorers, and braved the frost in support of their local brewers, chefs, farmers, and musicians.

Here are a few highlights from the event.

·       * I appreciated that Ska Brewing brought their new Mole Stout to the festival; I’ve been looking all over town for it and, according to the Ska rep on site, liquor stores run out of it almost as quickly as they get it in.  I was quite fortunate to find it at Cultivate.  If you have the opportunity to taste this beer, take it!  It may be your only chance.

The Brewers' Hall
*           *Likewise, I like that New Belgium Brewing, in addition to their usual lineup, also brought their Lips of Faith Prickly Passion Saison.  I love special treats at tasting events.  Fat Tire is great and all but I need to be wowed with something a little less commonplace.  Kudos to New Belgium.

·         *I’m a steadfast beer supporter but I can’t help but love our local Colorado Cider Company, too.  Ol’ Stumpy is one of their mainstays but, as I am an infrequent cider drinker, it seemed like a special release.  The addition of Granny Smith and Janagold makes for an exceptionally apple-y flavor and the chardonnay barrels it’s aged in imparts even more unique characteristics.

·       * Did you know TheInfinite Monkey Theorem offers wine in cans?  I don’t follow wine trends and, at first, I found this quite odd.  Then, however, I started to thinking how, not too long ago, canned craft beer can had its detractors but, nowadays, beer geeks know cans are actually superior to bottles in almost every way.  I wonder if wine geeks will embrace cans the same way beer geeks have.
Zack Heckendorf
        *After a knocking back a few beers I started feeling the munchies coming on so I headed to the Artisans’ Hall and snacked my way through the whole tent.  The buttery, salty dough-monsters from Colorado Pretzels did much to satisfy my growling stomach.  Also present was Oskar Blues’ Hops & Heifers Farm serving up All Natural Berkshire Sopressata and Old Chub Beer Braised Short Ribs.  And the Cubano sandwich made from The Real Dill pickles?  Divine.

         *The Chefs’ Tent was a popular spot and not just because the ovens heated the place up—celebrity chefs Amanda Freitag, Michael Chiarello, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, Richard Blais, John Shook and Vinny Dotolo, and Chipotle’s Culinary Development Team put the majority of the butts in their seats.
Amanda Freitag
·        *It began to snow at around 12:00 pm and it became necessary to move one’s body to maintain a safe body temperature.  Luckily, the snow coincided at roughly the same time the bands started playing so it was possible to groove on the beats and ward off frostbite simultaneously.  The music consisted of Zack Heckendorf, Tennis, Okkervil River, Grouplove, Best Coast, and Chris Golub.  I’ll forever be amazed how those guitarists can keep picking away when their fingertips are surely white-tipped and numb.
·        *Nicole is a middle school science teacher and teaches a unit on The Omnivore’s Dilemma so we stopped by the kid’s section to snack on some sci-fi-colored vegetables (I don’t care if it’s healthy and natural, purple cauliflower looks like an alien’s brain) and converse with those advocating for healthier food in school cafeterias.  Since all proceeds from the Brewers' Hall benefited the Food Family Farming Foundation which, in turn, benefits The LunchBox program, let it be known that I have done more than my fair share in keeping your little brat from becoming obese.

Can you tell me with a straight face that isn't an alien's brain?
Coloradoans are tough as nails but even nails have their breaking point; with every joint creaking from the wintertime clime, I left Cultivate to defrost and digest the copious amounts of food and drink in which I had indulged.  I had a fun albeit frigid time and I hope the cold won’t discourage the festival organizers from hosting the event in Denver again; it’s not always so cold in early October.  Keep the booze flowing, the food fresh, and tunes cranked and you’ll always have an audience.

More posts coming soon (less lazy ones) about the actual Great American Beer Festival and Oskar Blues' Thursday night afterparty.  

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