Friday, September 30, 2011

2011 #GABF Session 1

Ok, so the members only line RULES!! The festival started at 5:30. I was in and had my cup collected by 5:35. As planned, I got to New Glarus early but they did not Belgium Red. Tried their Raspberry Tart instead. It was Ok. I also tried their Blacktop IPA which was fantastic. I thought it was probably my favorite beer of the night.

New Glarus line was ridiculous a few minutes after I was there
So, you may remember that my plan was to hit Victory, Goose Island, Bell's, Dechutes, and Great Lakes before heading over to the Brewers Studio Pavilion. Well, I easily got to all those. I even had time to renew my AHA membership to get my free hat.
At Victory, I got to knock off Prima Pils. I also had Hop Wallap and V-12 (Belgium style amber ale ... 12% ABV).
At Goose Island, I had their Bourbon County Stout, which tasted too much like bourbon for me to think I would enjoy more than just a sample. I also had their IPA just for the fun of it.

They didn't have Hopslam or Expedition Stout at Bell's. They did have Kalamazoo Stout, which I thought had a significant amount of licorice flavor in it.

At Deschutes, I got to have The Abyss, a deep dark imperial stout.

At Great Lakes Brewing, I had Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. I thought that was good. I had their Oktoberfest too.

Getting in so early really confused me because I showed up half an hour early for the "Celebrating 30 Years of the GABF" talk at the studio. I said "hi" to Justin, and then headed over to Heretic.

I tried all 3 of Jamil's beers (Evil Twin, Tafelbully, and Evil Cousin). I thought Evil Twin was the best of those. I said "hi" to Jamil but did not have him sign any part of my body. He was pretty busy with his other groupies and I didn't want to disturb him.

I headed over to Lost Abby and tried Angel's Share, another bourbon beer. Again, not really something I would drink a lot of, but interesting to sample.

I got to sample Ballast Point Brewing's Sculpin IPA and also tried their Sour Wench which was a blackberry sour beer. I thought the Sour Wench was fantastic. It was by far the best sour beer I had all night.

I even got to Alesmith Speedway Stout before having to head over to the Studio Pavilion.

Charlie, Jim, and Ken talking about the early days
I thought the "Celebrating 30 Years of the GABF" presentation was very cool. I love listening to Charlie talk about beer. It was interesting to hear how the whole American Beer Festival came about. I had sort of forgotten that it is Sierra Nevada's 30th anniversary too. They poured a couple of Sierra Nevada beers including their 30th anniversary Ale and a couple of Sam Adams beers too. Jim mentioned the joke:

Why is American Beer like having sex in a canoe? ... Because it is f - ing close to water.

This joke isn't true anymore, but it was the perception (perception mostly based in truth) when Charlie, Ken, and Jim got started 30 years ago. This, the whole talk really, made me very happy that I am living in today's beer scene rather than that of the "old days".

After that, I staked out the rest-rooms. Interestingly enough, there were a couple of spots where the women's lines were significantly shorter than the mens' lines. For what it is worth, the fastest rest-rooms to get in and out of (for me, a man) were the porta-potties on the loading docks through the smokers lounge. Just a helpful tip for anyone going tonight or tomorrow.

So, since I had hit all my planned Best Beers in America samples so early, I wandered around. I talked to Wyeast and entered to win a firkin with Northern Brewer. I got to talk to the Brewing TV guys. Eventually I headed over to the 1982 GABF Pavilion.

The 1982 pavilion is the same size in square footage as the GABF was in 1982. There were 15 (give or take) breweries there last night that were at the GABF 29 years ago. Amazing that so many survived so many years. This was very cool. 

The 1982 GABF Pavilion was pretty cool.
I also stopped by the pro-am beers booth. For what it is worth, my favorite was an American Brown Ale called "India Brown EyePA" brewed by Jim Leabig and O'Fallon Brewery. My prediction is that they will win (but what do I know?) The most interesting beer was an American IPA with passion fruit brewed by Michael Dahler and Big Island Brewhaus from Hawaii.

Other than all that, I wandered around sampling miscellaneous beers. I pretty much stopped getting beers about 45 minutes before the end of the festival and just sort of looked around while drinking water.

I didn't see very many chicks in Beer Wench costumes this year. Maybe tonight will be better for that.

I have decided taking notes on the phone is too awkward, so tomorrow, pen and paper.

I thought the best IPA I had was COOP Ale Works, F5 IPA.

So, now, on my 2011 Zymurgy Best Beers in America list, I've had 8 of the top 10 (still). I've had 33 of the total 52 beers.

Really long line at Cigar City Brewing
Very successful first night. I have to go work on my Friday game plan right now.


  1. Great post, I'm impressed with how quickly you got it up. Good luck getting all 52 beers!

  2. Thanks Jessica. I don't sleep much, so that is how I can get blog posts up quick. I probably won't get all 52 beers, but it doesn't hurt to try.