Of course the best GABF session is the Saturday afternoon members-only session. At least that is my opinion. There are less people so it is less crowded and the lines are not as long. Plus there are less drunk idiots wandering around.
The line to get in was much longer Saturday, though. Friday night I told you we had our taster glasses by 5:45 (15 minutes to get in). Saturday afternoon it was more like 12:22 (22 minutes to get in). This was the farthest back I have ever had to start in line to get into this event. 22 minutes still is amazing considering the line went all the way around the convention center and then some.
The first thing we did was have lunch inside the hall. Old Chicago pizzas were ok.
We tracked down my friend Steve, who is one of my virtual Mr. Beer forum buddies from way back. He was pouring at MacTarnahan’s, so I had all their beers. The best one I had there was MacTarnahan’s Fresh Hop Amber Ale.
We got to the last couple of breweries that had been suggested from various facebook friends. Big River Grille and Brewing had some nice beers. So did Blackstone Brewing company.
We tried several other breweries. My wife grabbed me to make sure I tried Barhop Brewing's Bud the Wiser, which was a very good IPA. While I was there, I tried all Barhop's beers. 6 Confessions Scotch Ale was the gest scotch ale I had at the festival and Catcher Rye Ale had to be the best rye beer of the weekend.
Unfortunately, the Beer Model didn't want to get seated for "A Grimm Approach to Beer and Food Pairings" in the Beer & Food Pavilion when we got there, so we tried a few beers. When we got back there were no seats and we decided not to stand, so we skipped that session.
We came across "Porter's Pride" at the Colorado Brewer's Guild booth. Apparently this is a Colorado collaboration made to hand out to GABF award winners. It was very good.
One brewery we came across in our wanderings of the Pacific Northwest was Barley Brown’s Brew Pub. Citra Hot Blonde was the best pepper beer I had over the weekend, and Turmoil might have been the best Black IPA I had.
My wife made a point of going to Blue Moon. I had a Tart Blackberry there. My wife had a few that she liked including a peanut butter beer.
My mother-in-law had suggested that we go to Uinta Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City. I tried their Labyrinth which was a 13.2 ABV wood aged black ale. It was good. I also had their Dubhe Black IPA, which was brewed with a fair amount of hemp. It was also very good. Not sure why my wife's mommy suggested this place. None of the beers here were the kind of beers that my mother-in-law would ever drink.
At some point, my wife couldn't finish a beer that she had gotten from somewhere. I finished it for her and thought it was a bad beer too. She didn't know what the beer was or where it came from. It was a dark brown with cardboard notes. Luckily, this was the only beer of the whole weekend that I thought was bad.
We stopped by both Hawaii breweries. I thought Kona Brewing Company's Lemongrass Ginger Luau was awesome. When I walked up to Maui Brewing Co, I announced "I want a Bikini Blonde!". My wife gave me a dirty look. The Bikini Blond Lager was ok, but Maui's La Perouse White was great.
We got there too late to get seats for the 2:30 Beer & Food Pavilion session "The Best Wine for that Cheese is Actually…Beer". Apparently, this was a popular one, because I was there a good 10 minutes before start time, and it was already full.
I found Waldo.
Tracy made sure we stopped by Stone brewing so that she could show off her "You're not Worthy" shirt. I had the "Enjoy by 09/21/12 IPA" which was fantastic (as all Stone's beers are). I am not remembering what the Beer Model had.
Eventually, we tracked down Eric G at Dragoon Brewing Company. I had all his beers again and talked about old times. Steve just happened to be on a break and coincidentally stopped by at the same time to join in the conversation. The Beer Model took a very blurry photo of us. I would post it here if it was not quite so blurry. Hopefully, Steve's picture turned out better.
Eventually, it was time to go. We walked down to Tattered Cover so that Tracy could get some birthday books for one of our hundreds of nieces. Then, we wandered back up to the Yard House, which is relatively new in downtown Denver (at least new enough that we have never eaten there).
Ironically enough, during three sessions of GABF, I was not able to check a single beer off my Zymurgy Best Beers in America List. At dinner at the Yard House, though, I had a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. With all the crazy over-the-top beers I've had from DFH, it is good to know that they make a just plain IPA. It was exactly what I wanted with dinner.
And now that I look at my list again, I realized that I did have a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye Thursday night. So, I was able to check that off my list too.
So, now on the 2012 Best Beers in America list, I have had all but 3. I will still need to find:
34. Troegs Nugget Nectar (since this was not at GABF, I sort of doubt I will have a chance to try this)
T37. Russian River Blind Pig IPA (RR distributes to Colorado, but I they are very popular and still hard to find)
T48. Russian River Pliny the Younger (has an almost cult-following so if I find it somewhere, I have to grab it immediately)
Of course, having my list down to 3 is already acceptable to me even if I don't mark any more off my list. Too bad Russian River didn't bring Blind Pig, though.
Anyway, that is it for my 2012 GABF. I had fun. The SheppyBrew Beer Model had fun.
Time to recover.