Instagram or Facebook, the Beer Model and I attended the Great American Beer Festival again this year.
As always, it was fun.
I didn't do a great job of documenting the beers that I really liked this year. The GABF app changed, making it more difficult to use. I didn't bring paper and pen as I did in past years.
However ... I did note a couple beers / breweries that stood out for me.
I really liked everything I tried at Drake's Brewing Company. 1500 Pale Ale and Smoked Brette Davis Eyes were both fantastic.
There was a Neapolitan Milk Stout at Saugatuck Brewing Company. This isn't the kind of beer that I would drink a bunch of, but I was really impressed with the way the brewers nailed a beer whose flavors reminded me of the name.
My favorite beer of the first night was "Barrel Aged Edison" from Chapman's Brewing Company.
This year, the Beer Model and I stayed in a hotel that was about a 5 minute walk from the convention center. Pricey, but it was sure great to not have to take the train and then uber after getting out Friday night.
I think I say this every year, but getting into the building was even quicker and smoother than last year. Over the past few years, they scan us in and get us our glassware before the start of the festival and just line us up inside.
So, when the festival starts, it is just a matter of walking into the main area.
Like last year, there were food trucks in the convention center, which is wonderful. The food is much better than the convention center vendors.
We didn't do any food and beer pairings or brewer's studio sessions this year.
Because of the changes to the app, we didn't really have much of a "game plan" this year. Usually we know going in what breweries we plan to visit. This year, it was more of walking around and hitting what seemed interesting at the time.
This approach is ok, but I would rather have a better plan going in. I hope the GABF improves the app next year to make it more usable for us again.
Also, I'll probably end up using pen and paper next year as a backup.
There were two major issues we had with the app. First, this year is was not really an app that we could download to our phone. It was a web-based thing.
Generally, I would be ok with this technical approach, but the data coverage in the convention center is really spotty. So, there were lots of times that I would try to open a brewery and it would take long enough that I would give up on it.
The 2nd issue we had was that there was no search function. To find a beer, you had to know what brewery it was in, and scroll to the brewery, open the brewery and click on the beer.
In the past, using the search, we could find it fairly quickly.
This would be ok for the time in the fest, but not having that search function preventing my wife from finding the beers she wanted before hand. The necessarily of scrolling plus the performance issues really made using it frustrating.
But, we didn't allow these technical issues to prevent us from having a great time.
As I mentioned above, walking back to the hotel was much better than jumping on a crowded light rail and then ubering back home from the light rail station.
On the member's session, we started by spending quite a bit of time at the Brewery Guilds.
This year, the prize for visiting a certain number of the guides (8?) were these cool looking "Beer Love" sunglasses.
They are not real functional, but they sure are cool looking ... aren't they?
I am really happy to report that this year Brut IPA's are not as much of a thing. There were still quite a few of Milkshake IPA's, but I didn't feel like there were quite as many.
Hazy IPA's are unfortunately still pretty big. I don't think those will be going away any time soon.
One interesting thing was that a high percentage of breweries that friends and families suggested were not at the festival this year.
Not sure if that is a coincidence or if less breweries are attending. It sure seemed that there were lots.
Like every year, I extended my AHA membership another year, and collected a GABF hat as a prize.
I have noticed that I am not as anti-visiting-Colorado-breweries as I used to be. My comment of "I can visit these guys anytime" doesn't ring as true as it used to. There are just so many Colorado breweries ... it really isn't the case.
Another trend over the last couple years is that we tend to head out of the building about half an hour before they kick us out.
We just get to a point that we are ready to go. Not sure if we are showing our age or if since it is less crowded, we've accomplished everything quicker ... or what ... but we do tend to head out before the end.
The pictures are not as cool as actually being there. But ... whatever.
Again, having the hotel within walking distance was great. We dropped by the hotel and rested for a bit before heading out to dinner.
Not having to take various modes of transportation home was great.
That is about it for this blog post. Lots of fun as always.
If you are interested in reading about previous (or future) years GABF ... see Sheppy's Blog: GABF