And so we embark on the final description of the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. While the week ended almost a month ago, the epic nature of the events and connections linger on. Or something less dramatic. Anyway, let’s get to it.
Bacon. Yet again, the day started with bacon. This is an important part of a day filled with beer. Mostly because it’s delicious. But I’m not a doctor.
There are two sessions on Saturday. The first is a member’s only session. Anyone can be a member if you pay extra. You get some cool other stuff too, like discounts at breweries across the country, access to a shorter line at GABF, and access to the Saturday afternoon session.
It’s worth it. The member’s only session is by far the best of the 4 sessions. There are about half the people, you get actual glass tasting cups (rather than plastic), oh, and the breweries tend to bring out the big guns. For example, The Bruery, on most nights, has a set time to share Black Tuesday and Oude Tart. Saturday afternoon, it’s just on. The entire time.
We started off the session seeking out some coffee stouts. When you enter GABF at 1pm, caffeine is a good thing. That mission got sidetracked, and we mostly just pinballed around the event, stopping by booths that were offering special beers, like Cigar City‘s [something delicious with a name I can't recall], being poured at the Florida Brewer’s Guild booth. If you were there and remember what they were pouring, let me know in the comments.
Overall, this was by far the best session. It was much calmer, much easier access to the beer, and just a wonderful experience. If you’re a member or can afford to pony up and get passes to this session, I highly, highly recommend it.
Now, an early start to the session also means an early end, and by 5pm we were released back into the wild frontier of downtown Denver. Back to Fresh Craft we went! It was a good time for a little sit down, bite to eat, and some more tasty beverages.
Honestly, after 5 days of beer, 3 of which were all day long, we were starting to get a little worn out on beer. More on that later though. Mostly, I think we were just bloated with malt. Which is an interesting feeling.
We skipped the Saturday night session. For many reasons, but one of which was Dr. Bill’s Rare Beer Tasting at Falling Rock. For a few extra dollars, we gained access to Dr. Bill’s extensive collection and knowledge. Some of the best beers of the week were had in the dark recesses of Falling Rock.
The mini-tasting started off like a rare beer power hour. Every bottle that opened was full of something delicious, and the bottles were opening rapidly. Some people brought a few of their own bottles to add to the mix, like a barrel aged Coton.
It was around this time that Veronica Vega of Deschute’s, with medals pouring out of her pocket, voiced an opinion that many of us shared: “Is there any whiskey around here? I’m sort of full on beer.”
Note: the previous quote was paraphrased. Did I mention the rare beer power hour?
Well, as it turns out, there is whiskey nearby. At Whiskey Bar. So we drank whiskey.
The next day included more beer, more food, and a few trips to the airport.
Oh, right, the love story part.
Pretty much, GABF reaffirmed my love of beer, but more than that, of beer people. The craft beer community is absolutely wonderful, and the excitement is infectious. Making new friends isn’t hard. In fact, it’s hard not to. By the end of the week, every bar we walked into felt like an episode of Cheers.
People in the beer industry, in the beer media, and just into beer came together from all over the world to share some beers. And they left with new friends and a heightened appreciation for craft beer and the people who make it possible. It was an incredible time, and I’m proud and grateful to be a part of it.
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