Sunday, October 13, 2013

2013 #GABF Members Session

After Friday night, (see 2013 #GABF Friday Night), we were not done. We got up Saturday morning ready to head over to the Members Only Session of GABF. This is always the best session to attend in my opinion. Part of the reason is that there are not as many people at this one, but this year it did seem crowded ... especially towards the end.

For the first time, my wife spent the time to mark down breweries that she wanted to visit, so I ended up (for the most part) following her from brewery to brewery. Basically she found pumpkin beers with cool names, and we visited those booths. I didn't have all the pumpkin beers, but every booth had at least one of something else I wanted to try.

I did have more beers during this session that I thought were "just ok" or were even "bad" than I ever recall having at GABF. I don't think that was a function of chasing pumpkin beers, but it might be.

My first stop was actually just a random spot to get things going. D32 - Yellow Springs Brewery. I had a "Smokin' Handsome", which was a very nice smoked beer.

D30 - Weasel Boy Brewing Company. I had a "Bitter Sable Imperial Black IPA". I thought it was a good beer, but usually I like my black IPAs with more hop flavor. I made the note "not bitter at all".

H34 - Fat Heads Brewery. I tried the "Aspenglow Weizenbock" and the "Pumpkin Chucker". The pumpkin beer was ok. I was not a fan of the Weizenbock, but that is probably that I am just not a fan of Weizenbocks.

H18 - Atwater Brewing Company.  Here, I had "Hop-A-Peel", "Vanilla Java Porter", "VooDooVator Doppelbock". The standout here was "Vanilla Java Porter". It was nice and smooth. Tasted like really good coffee with just the right amount of vanilla in it. Wonderful beer.

H3 - Four Horsemen Brewing Company. I hate to say it, but I didn't like any of the beers I tried here. Their "Irish Red Ale" was ok. Their "Hop Rush IPA" was not good. My wife told me their "Headless Horseman Pumpkin Ale" was the worst pumpkin beer she had. I tasted it and agreed with her. It was too phenolic.

H2 - Fitger's Brewhouse. I had to grab a close beer, "Hoppelujah IPA" to get the taste of the Four Horsemen Pumpkin Ale out of my mouth. I wrote down A+, so I thought it was really good. This might have been simply a reaction to the bad beer from the previous brewery.

L1 - Short's Brewing Company. I had "The Curl", which was a double imperial pilsner and "Gone Commando", which is called an experiment lager. I didn't write down notes for either beer. I do remember thinking that I really did not any pilsners during this GABF.

L29 - Troegs Brewing Company. This was one of the breweries on my list for Friday Night that I never got to.  I had their Dreamweaver Wheat, which had too much wheat yeast flavor for me. I had Hopback Amber Ale, which I simply wrote down "needs more hops". I also had The Mad Elf, which I think was a beer on the Zymurgy list a few years back I did not like it yesterday.

Q1 - Pabst Brewing Company. Yes, after it got a gold last year, I've been wanting to try one to see if it was as bad as I remember it being. Going right by the Pabst booth, I thought that this was probably the best opportunity to get one. Turns out that this was the best American Light Lager I have had in a long time. I wrote down "not bad". So, it exceeded my expectations.

Q9 - Captain Lawrence Brewing Company. I end up visiting these guys just about every year and I always love their beer. "Rosso e Marrone" was a fantastic sour beer. "Smoke from the Oak" was the best smoked beer I had at the festival ... actually the best one I've had in a long time.

U3 - Evil Genius Beer Company. I had "Evil EYE PA", which was an IPA that I think I liked. Their "Pumpkinstein - Brown Pumpkin Ale" was an ok pumpkin beer.

T29 - Sick N Twisted Brewing Co. My wife and I both targeted this because it is a South Dakota brewery. Remember my whole South Dakota Six Pack ... Kinda Sorta Not Really. As a quick reminder, when we visited South Dakota over the summer, the beer scene left a lot to be desired. Well, we never came across this brewery. Unfortunately, what I tasted yesterday makes me think it was good that we didn't come across them over the summer. "Panty Dropper Porter", while a great name, didn't make me want to drop my panties. My notes even say "bad". "Hopped Up Red Ale" wasn't really hoppy. Their "Hop On Top Imperial IPA" was just ok.

T2 - Shipyard Brewing Co., LLC.  Their "Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA" was good. I thought their "Pugsley's Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin" had too much spice, but my wife liked it.

T12 - Crow Peak Brewing Company. Another South Dakota brewery. This was one we did find and was part of my South Dakota Six Pack ... Kinda Sorta Not Really. You may remember that I suspected the 11th Hour IPA that I had in South Dakota was a bit old, so I wanted to try a fresh sample. Turns out I was right, because what I had last night was much better than the one I had in South Dakota. I also tried "Bear Butte Brown", which was really good. The last beer I tried there was "Insomniac Pale Ale". This was a really interesting beer. It was a pale ale, but it had notes of coffee roast and maybe even a bit of smoke. I really liked it.

J3 - American Brewing Company. I thought their Stupid Sexy Flanders was an A+, which might make it the best Flanders Red I had at the festival. I also really enjoyed "Fed, White and Brew".

The Stone Brewing Company's line was too long, but I thought the gargoyle looked cool.

A20 Tivoli Brewing Company. Tivoli is an interesting story. It was a brewery that started in the late 1800's in Denver. It closed around 1969. Recently, a couple of people decided to start reviving some of the old recipes. They are contract brewing with Prost and are starting to do really well. I had fun talking to the guys at the booth about how they worked on recreating "Sigi's Wild Horse Buck Beer". They talked about how in the 1800's, there was no refrigeration, so trying to make a Bock had challenges. It was all very interesting for a beer geek like me. My wife wandered away for awhile. The beer was very good too. It tasted like a bock, but not quite. Sort of a bock ale I guess. Of course I had their flagship "Tivoli Helles Lager" as well.

A30 Wild Woods Brewery. Their "Smores Stout" was actually very good.

A27 Upslope Brewing Co. Had Upslope Foreign Style Stout

E25 Ska Brewing. I didn't mention it in yesterday's post, but Friday night we came across Ska's "Estival Cream Stout". My wife and I really liked it. It has that traditional Milk Stout flavor with a little bit of orange. I actually think this is the best overall beer I had at the festival. Surprisingly, even though it is a stout, my wife liked it as well.

We did another Beer and Food pairing session yesterday, Secrets of Exceptional Beer & Food Pairings. “Dr.” Bill Sysak of Stone Brewing teamed up with Josh Schwab of Denver based Glazed and Confuzed Doughnuts.

Yes, they paired Stone Beers with donuts (yum!)

They started with Stone's latest "Enjoy By" IPA paired with a carrot cake vanilla cream cheese doughnut.  Bill told us to "just smash it into your mouth". The bitter beer really paired well with the sweet. My wife (who doesn't like IPA's even said that the sweet doughnut made the IPA bearable.

Next was the Classic American Barleywine with a sweet and salty doughnut with creamy caramel glaze. The big caramel flavor of the Barleywine really complimented the caramel glaze of this doughnut. "Doughnuts and beer ... who knew".

The final pairing was a W00Stout with maple and bacon infused doughnut. The beer was a 13.5% Wheat Rye imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrel. This was awesome. The bacon doughnut was, of course, genius. But, also this beer, which could have been a little much really helped make the experience wonderful. These played together so well.

After the food pairing session, we pretty much slowed down. We might have had a few beers, but not really much. Mostly did water. We got home, went out to eat. Watched the Blackhawks. Went to bed.

What a weekend! Now we have to figure out how to get our kids back.

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