We’ve returned from our journey to the Great American Beer Festival, and although we are glad to be back in Austin, we are a touch melancholic. How can we not be? In the span of nine days, each of us ordered nearly 200 beers (Sarah counted) and walked what felt like almost that many city blocks in Denver. In the coming days, we’ll be sharing an onslaught of photos, interviews, and stories from our Colorado odyssey, but since we already gave you a sneak peek of our time in Boulder and Fort Collins, we thought it was only fitting to share a little personal report from our time in the Mile High City. Here’s how it all went down:
We wasted no time upon arriving in Denver Wednesday, and made our way directly to Euclid Hall for a pre-GABF anniversary carnival with Deschutes Brewing to start back up on the drinkin’ after our time in Boulder and Fort Collins. They had some bomb-ass ice creams (in varieties of rye, malt, and rocky road) served up with Deschutes’ new collaboration with Hair of the Dog called Collage, as well as 25th anniversary Black Butte and cupcakes, and hop-dusted cotton candy with Fresh Squeezed IPA. As you may have guessed, these delectable pairings certainly did not suck.
From there, we headed out to an amazing co-working space called Battery 621 for a panel/ beer tasting called Beyond the Beer. The event was hosted by a cool organization called The Business of Fun, that is set on keeping kids out of cubicles by instead inspiring them to follow their passions – something we are more than happy to get behind. There were plenty of great pours available for tasting as well as many of our friends from home! Reunited with familiar faces, we rolled on to Stoney’s and Ace’s to check out events hosted by New Belgium, Odell, and Left Hand before calling it a night when the bars closed.
Thursday started off strong with several lunch-beer flights from Wynkoop and a couple pints at Falling Rock that we were lucky enough to share with the cool guys from Monks Toolbox. Then we grabbed a quick roadie from the Beerliner outside (only to be consumed in the vicinity of The Beerliner, of course) and hauled it up to the Colorado Convention Center for the first session of the Great American Beer Festival.
Over the span of the session, we had dozens of sample pours, everything from a carrot ginger saison to a maple bacon porter. We enjoyed samples from New Glarus, Jolly Pumpkin, Almanac Beer Co., and Distihl to name a few of the hundreds of incredible breweries represented. As if that wasn’t enough beer to keep us happy for a good long while, we rolled out to after parties all over town and celebrated until the wee hours of the morning.
Friday was the GABF media luncheon that we’d been looking forward to as one of the highlights of the week. We were not disappointed! We were served no fewer than eight incredible and rare beers from Elysian Brewing, Beachwood Brewing & BBQ, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales and Blue Mountain Brewery that were each paired with incredible dishes like a ciabatta cocoa Cardona cheese bit, a pickled pear granita push pop, a vanilla porter braised short rib, and a milk chocolate pumpkin mousse cake. We also heard from each of the brewers responsible for the delicious beer as we enjoyed, which was infinitely cool. We worked off the lunch with a beer tour to Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew, Black Shirt Brewing, and Crooked Stave which is located in the coolest co-op space we’ve ever seen, The Source. We spent another lovely night on the town at Falling Rock and a party at Hi-Dive that featured a New Belgium/ Wicked Weed collaboration. This Brett IPA was definitely an experience to try!
Saturday was the festival’s award ceremony. We already told you all about the results here, but perhaps we failed to mention just how moving it was to watch? #StatePride. To celebrate all of the victories, we hit the festival floor for one last session, trying no less (let’s face it, probably more) than 30 to 35 beers a piece. We tried several of the winning brews, including Devil’s Backbone’s Danzig, TAPS Helles, Bend Brewing’s Black Diamond, and Fate’s Candy Bar Milk Stout. Then we enjoyed a lengthy food and beer session of our own with some of our friends from You Stay Hoppy Austin, and Hops & Grain at Vine Street Pub and Brewery. We closed the trip with one last night at Star Bar and the Beerliner shotgunning with some of our besties from back home.
The trip was incredible and we came home far from empty-handed. With 64 bottles and 10 to 12 cans of beers making their way back, we will be stocked for bottle shares and Bitch Beer meetings for quite a while to come, but already can’t wait to go back to Denver for next year’s Great American Beer Festival. Check out our personal favorite beers, meals, and moments from Denver as well as our photo gallery below!
5 Standout Brews: Nearly impossible to decide, but here are some of the stand outs that come to mind: Almanac Farmer’s Reserve # 3, Fate (Denver) Coffee Kolsch, Fate (Arizona) Candy Bar Milkstout, Trinity Oh Face and Fitger’s Gooseberry Gose.
Favorite meal: Pretty much the entirety of the menu at the media luncheon, but I also really enjoyed the massive free cheese sample booth at the festival (shout out to my boy Humboldt Fog!)
Best moment: Watching some of our favorite Texas breweries take home some well deserved medals….also, us taking home some well deserved beer.
5 Standout Brews: Cigar City Cucumber Saison, Funky Buddha No Crust, Four Horseman Pumpkin Ale, Wynkoop Patty’s Chili Beer,Atwater Brewery Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale
Favorite meal: Dinner at Watercourse. I’ll never get over those tempeh buffalo wings.
Best moment: Getting to see all the beautiful breweries in Boulder, Fort Collins and Denver including Odell Brewing, New Belgium, Crooked Stave, and so many more.
5 Standout Brews: Funky Buddha Last Snow coconut porter, Distihl sour raspberry strawberry ale, Jolly Pumpkin Autumn Fire Biere de Garde, Trinity Red Swingline American Wild ale, and Elysian’s The Great Pumpkin — Note: this was the hardest list I’ve ever had to compile. There are probably another 20 brews that were also unbelievable.
Favorite meal: tie between Biker Jim’s elk jalapeno cheddar sausage with cream cheese and caramelized onions or Breckenridge Vanilla Porter braised boneless short rib with rosemary olive oil mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, applewood smoked bacon and Brussels sprouts hash. Or that milk chocolate pumpkin cake.
Best moment: Hanging out on the Beerliner until the very early hours of the morning Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
-Sarah, Caroline & Holly