Great American Beer Festival: Night 2

GABF “Safety Team” protects us from potential slippage caused by projectile vomit.

This post reflect beers I enjoyed (responsibly) on Saturday night of GABF. For my thoughts from Friday night, check out my previous post.

Here’s what I learned from night #2 at the Great American Beer Festival: people will throw up and they will throw up with greater purpose than Friday night.

Another thing I learned from night #2: breweries are bad at rationing their beer. It was near impossible to visit a booth and not have some or even most beers crossed off on their serving list because they just simply didn’t have enough to last through Saturday night.

Nonetheless, these disappointments didn’t deter me during Saturday night’s session in Denver. There were still some great beers and perhaps my favorite of all from the festival. Read about what had my heart all aflutter after the jump.

Like my first night at the festival, I managed to take some super-basic notes about beers that I enjoyed the most. And here. We. Go. (beers listed in order of consumption)

Crooked Stave
Indigo – like their other brews, Indigo had a nice tartness to it from a Brett-based fermentation. This beer was clean and crisp with a really nice tingle from some bubble gum tartness left on my tongue. If I had to nail the profile of this down, I’d say it’s somewhere between the cleanliness of Brux and a lighter sour cherry flavor of Rodenback Grand Cru.

Fort Collins Brewery
Double chocolate stout – This one came in just a hair over 9 percent ABV and you’d never know it. It was incredibly easy to drink and highlighted by roasted coffee aromas that paired wonderfully with a light chocolate flavor.

Russian River
Hop Time – Naturally, Pliny the Elder was non-existent at the Russian River booth by the time I got around to it. However, this harvest-style ale really had wonderful, fresh hop smell – not bitter or resinous, but like they really were taken straight from the vine and thrown in the beer. The freshness made the brew taste almost tropical with a little bitterness.

Lost Abbey
Saint’s Devotion – A Belgian-style ale, Devotion had a great combination of flavors – initially a spicy pepper that moves into a non-abrasive ginger. The smell was of fruit – perhaps apples.

Firestone Walker
Wookey Jack – This one was great. It’s a black IPA made with malted rye and Cara-rye in the grain bill. While the dark malts give it a traditional base of some roasted flavor, the rye adds a wonderful earthy spiciness similar to Sixpoint’s Righteous Ale that blends with the hops. I found a touch of bitterness, but the rye really stole the show. I great entry into that style.

Double Jack – This is Firestone’s double IPA, which was mostly highlighted by intense resin aromas and next to no bitterness.

Sour black – I’m a fan of almost all of Weyerbacher’s line of beers, but this was a new one. Made in an American wild ale style, this beer was made with Brett and aged in Pinot Noir barrels. Like the name offers, it pours a dark black from the grain that gives the beer a little heft beyond a tart cherry smell and taste. Not amazing, but a solid wild ale.

Mustang Brewing
Imperial Sundae – This Oklahoma-based brewery damn near stole my heart with this offering. Just as the name suggests, this is like drinking an alcoholic ice cream cone. It features a base of an imperial porter – adding roasted chocolate notes – that’s then infused with vanilla beans. I don’t know if it was my brain playing tricks or additional flavors from the oak barrels this beer was aged in, but there’s just a little bit of nut flavor that can be found. Simply amazing.

McCoy’s Public House and Brewkitchen
Broadway Toddy Stout – Like the imperial sundae, this one has a base mixed with adjuncts. The oatmeal stout this is based on is great and then infused with a “toddy” blend of coffee that gives the beer an intense espresso smell. There’s just a little chocolate in the flavor, but coffee rules in this one.

Avery Brewing
3 point 5 – This session ale wasn’t particularly notable except for the novelty of it tasting like hopped water. At 3.5 percent ABV, that’s fine. It has great hop smell that shows no bitterness but just tastes like you threw some hops into a glass of water. In all fairness, it’s probably the epitome of a lawnmower beer, and that’s OK.

Denver Brewing
Rauchbier – I didn’t have the chance to ask the guys at this booth, but I assume racuhmalt was used for this one instead of peated malt. The beer had a wet smoke aroma and flavor, though, unlike the crisp smokiness I feel I’ve gotten from regular smoked malts. Either way, this beer tasted like a toned down version of Alaska Brewing’s smoked porter.

Pateros Creek Brewing
Outpost – this “wee heavy” style beer had wonderful smoky flavor from cherry wood-smoked malt. If you like bacon, this would be up your alley.


13 thoughts on “Great American Beer Festival: Night 2

  1. The past two years, I have gotten tickets to 3 of the 4 sessions. I purposely skip Saturday night. You gave the reasons … way too many breweries are out of beer, and it seems more crowded with drunk people.

    My favorite is the Saturday afternoon members-only session, although this year, it seemed that way too many breweries were already out of beer for Saturday afternoon too.

    1. If/when I return, I’ll definitely have a different game plan. I am happy that I essentially got everything I wanted to try, with the unfortunate exception of Pliny. *shakes fist at the sky*

      I loved your recaps of your trips, thanks for trying to be diligent – I found it’s really hard when you’d rather be throwing your attention every which way.

  2. Well, you did a much better job on your beer descriptions than I did on mine. I am not sure what the best way to take notes is … but the way I do it is certainly not it. Half the things I wrote down make no sense to me the next day when I attempt to decipher my writing.

    1. Pulling out my phone to jot down a few notes was a great excuse to set a good pace. I usually like a notebook and pen, but I could do it one-handed with my phone. I’d grab a sample and find a spot to sip, chat with my drinking buddy and take a note or two if necessary.

  3. We had a great time at GABF this year too! We went to the 12-4pm fest and were lucky enough to get some Pliny. I agree that Wookey Jack was quite nice.

    1. As I’m (still) going through a lot of write-ups from the festival, I realize just how much other great beer I missed. My work is never done.

      What did you think of Pliny? I’m saving that dream for another day…

      1. I don’t want to do Pliny a disservice by rating it on a day when I had so many other beers and had Pliny towards the end but my initial reaction was “what’s all the hype about?” It tasted like a really good hoppy IPA but I don’t recall any super unique tastes. I’ll have to try it by itself someday. It’s good to have a beer that your chasing down. Good luck in your Pliny search!

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