It may not feel like autumn in much of the country, but in Denver, the biggest sign of fall is the mass gathering of brewers, beer lovers, and yes, even beer writers, at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival.
Only yours truly is headed north this year, but I will do everything in my power to cover this event, including Saturday morning’s awards ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m. and can be viewed online.
Seven breweries brought home six medals last year, with Palmer and Quarter Celtic earning a bronze for their collaboration beer, Mocha Hipster Bomb. Turtle Mountain topped the list with its first gold medal, or any medal, for Wooden Teeth in the International-Style Pilsner category. Other first-time winners were Rowley Farmhouse Ales with a silver for Germophile in the Berliner Weisse category and Starr Brothers with a bronze for Lampshade Porter in the Other Strong Beer category. Other winners were La Cumbre with a silver for Malpais Stout in Export Stout, Bosque with a bronze for Pistol Pete’s 1888 in Golden or Blonde Ale, and Sierra Blanca with a bronze for Cherry Wheat in Fruit Wheat Beer.
Otherwise, it is all about the four main sessions, which run from 5:30 to 10 p.m. from Thursday through Friday, plus the special session Saturday afternoon that is not open to the general public. A total of 17 New Mexico breweries have booths on the main floor, which has reverted back to a geographic distribution of breweries after trying an alphabetical format last year, which earned mixed reviews.
Here is the lineup for those in the Southwest Region, with row number first and booth number second.
- Santa Fe Brewing: 13-1
- Beer Creek: 13-12
- Blue Corn: 13-14
- Bosque: 13-16
- Boxing Bear: 13-17
- Canteen: 14-2
- Ex Novo: 14-5
- Marble: 14-17/18 (two brewhouses means two booths!)
- La Cumbre: 14-24
- Quarter Celtic: 15-4
- Second Street: 15-10
- Sierra Blanca: 15-11
- Starr Brothers: 15-17
- Taos Mesa: 15-19
- Tumbleroot: 15-22
Two breweries are in the Meet the Brewer section, Steel Bender (21-9) and Red Door (21-19). The New Mexico Brewers Guild will also have a booth amid the other guilds, and will be pouring beers from breweries that do not have a booth at the festival. Please stop by and say hello to Leah Black, we don’t want her to get lonely over there only talking to tourists.
Hey, if nothing else, this will make things easier to track down the brewers if I can’t find them after the awards ceremony.
There are also a slew of events going on around the festival, and many people tend to go to Denver and never even set foot inside the Colorado Convention Center. Sometimes it can be as simple as visiting a local watering hole, such as Falling Rock Tap House or Bierstadt Lagerhaus or our home-away-from-home, TRVE Brewing. Food options abound, from classic breakfast hangouts like Jelly, Syrup, and Denver Biscuit Company, plus our favorite after-festival feasting spot, Rhein Haus.
Oh, and Amon Amarth is playing at the Fillmore on Friday night. Look for pics of the Second Street staff and this guy getting pummeled by the viking metal.
And, before anyone asks, yes, we asked all the breweries heading north which beers they entered into competition. We asked the breweries for the category numbers to help us know when to pay close attention Saturday morning, and these are a bit different from last year. In some cases, we do not know the exact category at this time, or the name of the category, but we do know the beer entered. For those notable breweries not listed — a group that includes Bosque, Canteen, La Cumbre, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, and Starr Brothers — if we get their entries anytime between now and Saturday morning, we will update the following.
- 2. American Fruit Beer: Lobo Rojo, Rio Bravo
- 3. Fruit Wheat Beer: Cherry Wheat, Sierra Blanca; Pineapple Upside-Down Beer, Boxing Bear; Social Hour, Santa Fe; 8 of 9 Blood Orange American Wheat, Nexus; Raspberry Beret American Wheat, Nexus
- 4. Belgian Fruit Beer: Double White Triple Berry, Marble
- 7. Chili Beer: Green Chile Cerveza, Sierra Blanca
- 8. Herb/Spice Beer: Honey Hibiscus Wheat, Tumbleroo
- 10. Coffee Beer: Coffee & Cream, Nexus; Whiteout Stout, Blue Corn; Buzz Bomb, Sidetrack
- 12. Specialty Beer: Cactus Warrior, Toltec
- 13. Rye Beer: Mystic Rye, Toltec
- 17. Session IPA: Featherweight Session IPA, Boxing Bear
- 18. Other Strong Beer: Double White, Marble; Double Brown Ale, Tumbleroot
- 25. American Sour Ale with Fruit: Raspberry Dynamite, Steel Bender; Cactus Wins the Lottery, Ex Novo; Strawberry Amigo, Bow & Arrow
- 26. Brett Beer: Guest of Honor, Bow & Arrow
- 28. Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout: Barrel-Aged Mac Lomas Stout, Quarter Celtic
- 29. Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer: SMASH Barleywine aged in gin barrels, Tumbleroot
- 31. Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer: Dream Mesa, Bow & Arrow
- 32. Wood- and Barrel-Aged Fruit Sour Beer: Blackberry Sour Porter, Rio Bravo
- 34. Kellerbier/Zwickelbier: Pilsner, Marble; German Patio Beer, Quarter Celtic/Sidetrack; Blonde Lager, Blue Corn
- 35. Smoke Beer: Smoked Porter, Tumbleroot
- 36. American Lager or American Pilsner: Compa Los Ranchos Lager, Steel Bender; TBR, Tumbleroot; Denim Tux, Bow & Arrow
- 37. Contemporary American Pilsner: Preamble Pils, Turtle Mountain; Agua Fria Pilsner, Second Street
- 38. International Pilsner: Cerveza, Marble; Pedro O’Flanagan’s Mexican Lager, Quarter Celtic; Wooden Teeth, Turtle Mountain; The Most Interesting Lager in the World, Ex Novo
- 39. Light Lager: Pepe Loco, Santa Fe; Riley’s Switch, Red Door
- 40. American-Style Lager: IPL, Ponderosa
- 42. Rod’s Steam Bitter, Second Street
- 43. German Pilsner: Desert Pilsner, Sierra Blanca
- 44. Bohemian Pilsner: Send It, Rio Bravo; Easy Come, Easy Go, Ex Novo
- 45. Munich-Style Helles: Helles, Quarter Celtic; Red Devil’s Helles, Toltec
- 46. Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest: Thunder from Dortmunder, Marble; Marblefest, Marble
- 47. Vienna Lager: Vienna Lager, Sidetrack; Vienna Lager, Second Street
- 48. German-Style Marzen: Marzen, Quarter Celtic
- 49. German Dark Lager: Schwarz Bender, Steel Bender
- 50. International Dark Lager: Jabroni Dark, Marble
- 52. German Doppelbock/Eisbock: Doppelator, Marble; Doppel Equis Steinundator, Turtle Mountain
- 53. Baltic-Style Porter: Stockholm Syndrome, Turtle Mountain; Darth Malt, Flix Brewhouse; Mail Order, Red Door
- 55: German Kolsch: Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Steel Bender
- 56. English-Style Summer Ale: Winsor Pale Ale, Second Street
- 57. International Pale Ale: Ginga Ninja, Red Door
- 58. Australian Pale Ale: 7K IPA, Santa Fe
- 59. American-Style Pale Ale: G-Bird Grapefruit IPA, Nexus
- 60. Juicy or Haze Pale Ale: Murkito, Boxing Bear
- 61. American Strong Pale Ale: Happy Camper IPA, Santa Fe
- 63. American IPA: Alien IPA, Sierra Blanca; MorBuck IPA, Quarter Celtic; Uppercut IPA, Boxing Bear; Gatekeeper IPA, Blue Corn; Mass Ascension, Ex Novo; 2920 IPA, Second Street
- 64. Hazy IPA: Freak Juice, Rio Bravo; New England IPA, Red Door
- 66. Imperial IPA: DIPA, Marble
- 68. American-Style Amber/Red Ale: Ripsaw Red, Ponderosa; Visionland, Bow & Arrow
- 70. Imperial Red: Raining Blood, Red Door
- 73. Extra Special Bitter: Amber ESB, Rio Bravo; Pale Ale, Santa Fe; Boneshaker Special Bitter, Second Street
- 77. English Brown Ale: Bone Chiller Brown Ale, Sierra Blanca
- 78. American-Style Brown Ale: End of the Trail Brown Ale, Blue Corn
- 83. German Style Altbier: Sacred ALTar, Toltec
- 85. German Wheat Ale: Kristallweizen, Sidetrack
- 86. Belgian-Style Blond or Pale Ale: James Blond, Flix Brewhouse; Diablo Canyon, Second Street
- 87. Witbier: Luna Rosa, Flix Brewhouse
- 89. Specialty Saison: Saison De Luxe, Steel Bender/Ex Novo; Strawberry Basil Saison, Boxing Bear/Canteen
- 92. Belgian Dubbel: H-E-Dubbel Hockey Sticks, Flix Brewhouse
- 101. American Stout: Cholo Stout, Marble
- 102. Sweet or Cream Stout: Chocolate Milk Stout, Boxing Bear
- 103. Oatmeal Stout: Shaman Stout, Toltec
Category numbers unknown: Blue Corn—Glasgow Garnet Scotch Ale (Scotch Ale); Second Street—Red and Yellow Armadillo (no category listed)
If you are in Denver and somehow spot me amid the crowd, say hello, especially if you know where the hidden gems of the festival are hiding. Otherwise, I am happy to help provide guidance, should you need any.
For those of you staying behind in New Mexico, make sure to support your local breweries while the rest of us are gone.
Raise your horns!