Jess and I got into Denver late Wednesday night after 3 days, 2 nights, and more than 2,000 miles later. It felt less like a road trip than a lot of driving, but we fit in some good stops at St. Louis (4 Hands Brewing Co.--amazing Chocolate Milk Stout, Urban Chestnut–amazing beer garden, Schlafly Tap Room–great food) and Kansas City (Boulevard! Such a beautiful brewery) and also saw the World’s Largest Wind Chime and the soon-to-come World’s Largest Rocking Chair.
Now I’m in Denver and no longer a GABF virgin after attending the fest last night. It was as overwhelming as I expected, but I did get to try some amazing beers including The Bruery’s Sour in the Rye With Peaches, Lost Abbey’s Duck Duck Gooze, everything from Almanac Beer, a Northern California brewery which uses ingredients from local farms to make fantastic beers like an Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine aged in brandy barrels. I also tried a lot of coffee beers, perhaps because I could have used a coffee or two: TAPS Mocha Stout, Smog City Groundwork Coffee Porter, and my favorite, the Beachwood System of a Stout, “brewed with blackstrap molasses, green cardamom, and a custom Armenian coffee.” Big thanks to Randy Clemens for the tour of the California breweries. Oh and the Nodding Head Lava, a blonde ale brewed with lavender and vanilla beans, was lovely and distinctive.
Thoughts about GABF in general: Festivals are not my cup of tea, or tasting cup of beer, if you will, but I understand its value in getting to try so many different beers, meet some of the brewers etc. It is what it is, I’m not going to whine about the obnoxious-at-times crowds or the lines because you know exactly what you’re getting into. That being said, I am more looking forward to exploring Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins’ beer scene and having a full pint or two.