Archive for the ‘GABF 2017’ Category

Marble’s Geraldine Lucero and Barbie Gonzalez were among the first to greet us at GABF.

It can be awfully hard to recap a three-day event featuring hundreds of breweries and thousands of beers, but by golly, the Crew will try to review our latest trip to the Great American Beer Festival.

For yours truly, this was my third trip overall, second in a row via the magic of a press pass. Franz Solo also got a press pass this year, while Luke, Shawna, and Andrew all went up on tickets for the Saturday night session (the guys were going for the first time). If those three elect to share their experiences, we will add them to this story.

The La Cumbre booth was a popular spot, which hopefully will convince more beercationers to visit New Mexico! And yes, Jeff Erway was in a full German outfit. It was a little sweaty, he told us.

Franz and I charged into battle Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday afternoon following the awards ceremony, which we recapped here. The sessions were pretty much the same as my past experiences — well-organized and yet chaotic. The Brewers Association, their volunteers, and all the participating breweries run a pretty smooth ship. The chaos comes from the gigantic crowd, which swarms one way and then the next. Take any crowd you have seen at a New Mexico festival, multiply it by 1,000, throw in some crazy costumes, a full bagpipe marching band, and expand everything over a space the size of seven football fields and … well, you have GABF.

While there were plenty of brewery heavyweights on site, from Avery to Firestone Walker to Founders to Stone, there were also a ton of up-and-comers garnering huge lines and attention. Toppling Goliath, from Iowa, had a huge line, as did Great Notion from Portland, Oregon. We typically do not follow the crowds in most things, but when it comes to beer, and this fest in particular, we know that it pays to hit up the busiest booths.

We caught up to Quarter Celtic’s David Facey, left, and Brady McKeown, right, as they kilted about the fest.

Breaking down our new favorite breweries by region, to help everyone plan their future beer-cations, and in some cases, our specific favorite beers.

Northwest: Chuckanut (WA), Loowit (WA), Great Notion (OR). In particular, the Vienna Lager at Chuckanut, and the amazing Great Notion Double Stack, a breakfast stout for the ages. For those of you hopheads, Juice Box at Great Notion is arguably the best juicy, hazy IPA outside of New England.

California: Central Coast, Modern Times, Three Weavers. Most of you have probably heard of Modern Times down in San Diego, but dear lord, if you can get your hands on any of the Monsters’ Park imperial stout variants, get them ASAP. As for Three Weavers, based out of Inglewood, we absolutely had to try 2 Minutes to Midnight.

Well, hello there Three Weavers and your excellent beer with the name of an Iron Maiden song.

Southwest: Dragoon (AZ), (512) Brewing (TX). I have sung the praises of Tucson’s Dragoon many times before. We hit up the Austin-based (512) on the recommendation of a fellow beer writer. Any variant of their Double Pecan Porter will make your day, month, even year.

Midwest: Drekker (ND), Haymarket (IL), Revolution (IL), Sun King (IN), Toppling Goliath (IA). Yes, Toppling Goliath lives up to every bit of the hype that surrounds it. The Mornin’ Delight rivaled the Great Notion Double Stack for best breakfast stout of the fest. How good are they? Yes, they are even better than Founders Breakfast Stout. Drekker, based out of Fargo (!), created Coconut Killer IPA. There were hops and coconut and somehow they blended it into something truly amazing. The Deth’s Tar from Revolution is another epic imperial stout. We also loved Bear Hug Stout from Bell’s, which lord willing, will be distributed down here at some point.

Southeast: Foothills (NC), Cigar City (FL). OK, yes, you have all probably heard of Tampa’s Cigar City before. Hunaphu gets the bulk of the stout love, but Marshal Zhukov is another worthy must-find beer. Another one to find is Sexual Chocolate, a beer that lives up to its name, from Winston-Salem’s Foothills Brewing.

If there is one brewpub chain to visit on the East Coast, it’s this one.

Northeast: Iron Hill (multiple locations), Southern Tier (NY-PA). Wait, what is a chain brewery doing on here? Well, Iron Hill is of a much higher quality than most, and its Russian Imperial Stout is a medal winner. Southern Tier is another one that a lot of people know about, but Monstrous was an imperial stout we have not had before. It was not available in stores, but we did bring bottles of the decadent Creme Brule.

OK, enough rambling from me. Here is what the others had to say, starting with a certain viking poet who has a lot to say (again, it was his first time).

Franz Solo got to snag a selfie with Russian River brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo.

Franz Solo: On a bright and blustery fall morning, two brothers in the cult of beer and all that is good in this life set out on the quest of Valhalla. How do you quantify something that is legendary, a myth so precious you but whisper the name in hopes that it will not simply vanish as all things at their end? If my hand be true and my heart be honest, perhaps, there, there is the way.

As with all grand events there is the lush tapestry of anticipation and slight jitters that accompany the start. We check in for our press credentials, we wait, and then set loose! The roar grows from a murmur to a full-on assault on the ears as the night growls to crescendo and climax, like some worn-out prize fighter just before he falls. Bagpipes and jovial madness in every direction, beer and our comrades in arms as far as the eye can see. On only very few occasions in my life have I witnessed such overall happiness and enjoyment by nearly everyone we met for the entire duration. That we as human beings can simply come together in positive collaboration around something as old and seemingly simple and pleasurable as beer is certainly heartening in these otherwise uncertain and dark times.

If you’re in Portland, you gotta seek out Great Notion Brewing.

I kept a reasonably thorough log of what we tried in each of our four-and-a-half hour sessions, and these were some of the highlights for me, beginning with beers not locally available to us in New Mexico. The Mexican Lager from pFreim Family Brewers (Hood River, Oregon), was simply wonderful, with a solid malt base and delightfully tart, but not overbearing hops. Double Stack from Great Notion was one of many great beers in their lineup for the festival. In particular, this double breakfast stout tasted like, well, f***ing pancakes and syrup in beer form. I wholeheartedly embrace this addition of maple flavor to one of my favorite stout variants, and was quite happy that this appears to be somewhat of a trend as I will enumerate later on.

Chicago’s Revolution Brewing brought an imperial oatmeal stout called Deth’s Tar, which was as dark and devilish as a vat of molasses being used to encase Han Solo in carbonite. A pure monster of a stout that I thoroughly enjoyed. From the far north in Fargo, N.D., we happened upon Coconut Killer IPA, which was like the lighter side of Double Stack and tasted just like vanilla ice cream in IPA form, clean, crisp, and refreshing enough to warrant a second tasting.

Hailing from Deborah, Iowa, Toppling Goliath had our second pancakes with syrup tasting breakfast stout called Mornin’ Delight which well, tasted like f***ing pancakes. Of the two beers we tried from Dark Horse Brewing Co. (Marshall, Mich.), Oil of Gladness was a wonderful collaboration with Three Floyds, and had so many layers of nuanced flavors from the barrel. It is to my knowledge the first black barley wine I’ve ever tried and I will certainly seek more of these out.

Not all of us braved the lines, but we had to admit, Melvin Brewing had one of the most unique “booths” at GABF.

A visit to the booth for Destihl Brewery (Normal, Ill.), scored us a taste of Dosvidanya, which was a classic and hoppy take on the Russian imperial stout variety. In contrast, Comrade Brewing’s Wet Hop Superpower IPA certainly lived up to our high expectations for this past NIPAC finalist. After a good number of samples, Superpower blasted straight through the pancakes, the Russian imperial stouts, and the other IPAs alike. I look forward to trying a pint of this one at some future date.

Our visit to Modern Times (San Diego) Brewing’s booth yielded a plethora of choices in the vein of special barrel-aged imperial stouts. My personal favorite was the Monsters’ Park Aged in Bourbon Barrels Mexican Hot Chocolate variant, which was spicy and delicious just like our own native holiday drink.

On a wholly different edge of the spectrum, though no less delicious to my taste, was the 2017 gold medal winner from Little Machine Brewing (Denver), Razz Against the Machine. The name was awesome to begin with and this beer was a wonderful tart raspberry delight of a beer.

Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter was well, just as the name says with loads of fantastic flavor and extremely well balanced throughout. Clare’s Thirsty Raspberry Imperial Bourbon Stout from Haymarket Pub and Brewery (Chicago) tasted just like a slice of raspberry blackout cake from our local Flying Star. There was the initial wave of barrel and chocolate malt blend, followed by a wonderful wave of raspberry to finish of this wonderful dessert of a beer.

Cheers to all the fresh barrel tappings, Avery!

Avery pulled out all of the stops and had hourly from-the-barrel tastings of some of our favorite brews featuring Rumpkin, Tweak, and Effin’ Teamwork (an imperial stout collaboration with Odell Brewing) which were simply divine all around.

There were many more outstanding beers that we tried which I could speak to, but for a little brevity’s sake, the finisher for the festival that we stumbled upon at the end of a row was Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov aged in cognac barrels. A true liquid poem to the glory of stout and barrel-aged beers, no sooner had it passed our lips and we knew we would not find a better finishing beer for our GABF experience.

Guild director John Gozigian had plenty of customers throughout the weekend, enjoying beers from the breweries that did not have their own booths at the fest.

On the local front, our New Mexico breweries did us quite proud, and I encourage you all to go out and enjoy the medal winners and the rest of what is an extremely strong lineup for our state, blessed with many outstanding breweries and beers.

On one final note, I’ll leave you with a quote from us after our first GABF session: “Our palate is pancakes, bring us all of your breakfast stout!”

Skål!

Luke managed to snap this photo of a still-living Andrew after the fest.

Andrew: This weekend’s visit to Denver for GABF was a true beer-cation. I feel no shame in saying that all activity focused on and revolved around beer … even more so then usual. My first GABF on Saturday night was the crown jewel of the weekend. I should have planned more, but I’m convinced that it wouldn’t have changed anything. Entering the convention center and finding myself surrounded by 800-plus brewery booths was both surreal and overwhelming. The scale of this event is staggering. Lacking any sort of method or strategy I proceeded to bounce back and forth between booths for hours. Fortunately the beer gods led me on a path to many delicious beers from around the country. Other highlights of the trip include: (1) bumping into members of the Marble crew, and Nexus head brewer Kaylynn McKnight at the Falling Rock Tap House the night before they won gold medals… which is also where (2) I enjoyed some Pliny the Elder Imperial IPA on tap from Russian River Brewing; and (3) drinking Yeti straight from the source at Great Divide Brewing. But, the best part was seeing NM breweries bring home some medals!! Congrats!!

Luke, center, and Andrew, left, managed to track down New Mexico brewers all over town, including Nexus’ Kaylynn McKnight.

Luke: I was warned GABF was overwhelming, and perhaps the festival itself was. But, Denver and the whole scene was certainly large enough to handle the extra 60,000 bodies, 900-plus breweries, and do it all with grace. At no point did it seem like the locals were upset that something big had come to town. At no point were we overcrowded on the streets. Ubers and Lyfts were only ever 3 minutes away. There was no waiting for a table, which wasn’t out of the ordinary for any given Sunday. The only overwhelming part was the sheer number of beers to sample. But, that’s the point. For fellow Crew member Andrew and I, it was our first GABF. Once we got into the festival, our plan and brewery list went out the window. But, that happens to GABF first-timers. I almost wouldn’t do that differently.

GABF wasn’t overwhelming, but not because it wasn’t big. It wasn’t overwhelming because we found New Mexico friends at the right time, and the Dark Side shirt was as recognizable as if we were in Albuquerque. Andrew and I didn’t make it to Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Crooked Stave, or Prost, but that’s for next time, and there will be a next time. It’s not about what we didn’t get to do, or sample. GABF, for us first-timers in the Crew, was about all the things we still did right. There were many of them — TRVE, Banded Oak, Falling Rock, to name a few. Huge thanks to Julie Ruth and Nichole Breihan, for without them, my first experience would not have been possible. Congrats to our New Mexico winners!

Shawna and Jerrad made the most of being at the last session together.

Shawna: Jerrad and I hit the road on Saturday morning to attend the Saturday evening session of GABF. To say that we had an exhausting day was a gross understatement! Was it worth it? Hell yes! We arrived in Denver on Saturday afternoon. We checked in, got a bite to eat at the nearby 16th Street Mall, then we were off to stand in the already long line. Last year, the line wrapped all the way around the convention center, so we knew we had to get there reasonably early, an hour and a half recommended for general admission ticket holders. To our surprise, they moved the line this year — and opened it up to the indoor waiting area right away, helping keep the madness of not only the GABF crowd, but a zombie crawl nearby, off the busy Denver streets! Whoever made that logistical decision is all right in my book! Once the gates opened, it was more or less a free-for-all, with the exception of the line block queue. We had just about every brewery in the nation at our disposal. I had several on my list that I was excited to check out. I couldn’t begin to try to give you a list of favorite beers at this festival, but here is a list of the most memorable (which seems appropriate haha):

  • Avery (CO) Old Perseverance (whooooaaaa 18.5% ABV)
  • Crooked Stave (CO) Petite Sour Raspberry
  • Revision Brewing (NV) Dr. Lupulin 3X
  • Melvin Brewing (WY) Hubert MPA
  • Victory Brewing (PA) Sour Monkey
  • Lewis and Clark Brewing (MT) Miner’s Gold Hefe
  • Little Machine (CO) Razz Against the Machine
  • Great Lakes Brewing (OH) Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
  • Modern Times Barrel House (CA) Mexican Hot Chocolate
  • Snake River Brewing (WY) Coffee Milk Stout

Did we mention the costumes? Because Shawna found one of the best of the fest.

One learned lesson this year was to definitely try to go on Thursday or Friday in the future. They sell out first for a reason. The Saturday crowd is very rushed. From what I hear, the Thursday and Friday crowds are a bit more jovial. One thing that I can give the Saturday crowd — they sure know how to party! Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. We were all mutually in beer heaven, even if it seems a bit of a blur now. We woke up early on Sunday and grabbed a coffee with fellow Crew member Luke, then we hit the road back to with a stopover at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs for some unique bottled brews before the long trek to Albuquerque. We will definitely stay longer next time. One day in and out is not nearly enough time to take in the wonderful city that is Denver, or even its downtown area, for that matter. See you next year GABF!

* * * * *

That is all from us. If you have any awesome GABF stories you would like to share, please send them to us and we will post them.

And, if you could not surmise from all our ridiculous praise, if you have never been to this event, you gotta go at least once in your life.

Boxing Bear’s Justin Hamilton was all smiles, and this was before he won a bronze medal.

We are, however, glad to be home. Now it is time to go seek out all the medal winners from New Mexico. We will have to wait for the next batch of Rod’s Steam Bitter (bronze) at Second Street (it was not on tap when we stopped for dinner on the way back), but of course there is still plenty of Sierra Blanca Cherry Wheat (gold), Marble Pilsner (bronze), Nexus Imperial Cream (gold), and hopefully there is still some Marble Cholo Stout (gold) and Boxing Bear Featherweight Session IPA (bronze) on tap.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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Marble’s Josh Trujillo is all good after bringing home two medals.

It was another successful Great American Beer Festival for our local breweries, as five different places brought home a total of six medals on Saturday morning at the annual awards ceremony in Denver.

Marble Brewery won yet another medal for its Pilsner, taking home a bronze in the Kellerbier or Zwickelbier category. It is the fourth time since 2011 that Pilsner has won a medal. The big win came later, when Cholo Stout took gold in the American-Style Stout category.

“The Pilsner has definitely had a lot of success,” Marble brewmaster Josh Trujillo said. “We put a lot of love into that one. I have a lot of influence on it, but John Heine is the one who is running that beer, making sure it’s consistent. It’s what everybody drinks. We know people drink it all the time. It’s nice to see that one really stay consistent and stay well.”

The Cholo Stout, now on its second iteration, was born out of the Heights taproom experimental brewing system.

“I’m excited, it’s a very challenging style,” Josh said. “To medal the first time … it’s the second time it’s been brewed, but it’s a beautiful style. I finally got to make it good. I feel really privileged that they trust me enough to make these beers. It’s all teamwork. It’s awesome to get it done.”

Nexus Brewery claimed a gold as well with Imperial Cream Ale topping the Other Strong Beer category.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Nexus head brewer Kaylynn McKnight. “I’m just very honored. I thought all of New Mexico did a great job. I’m just proud. I’m proud of all of New Mexico.”

Nexus’ Kaylynn McKnight and her fiancee Andrew Krosche are all smiles after she brought home a gold medal.

Sierra Blanca actually got the medal run started way back in the fourth category, Fruit Wheat Beer, snagging a gold medal with its Cherry Wheat. It marks Sierra Blanca’s first gold since winning for Bone Chiller Brown back in 2012.

The other bronze medals went to Boxing Bear with Featherweight Session IPA in the Session IPA category and to Second Street for Rod’s Steam Bitter in the American Amber Lager category. That marks the second medal for the Steam Bitter, which won gold back in 2013.

“Obviously we’re thrilled about the medal,” Second Street brewmaster Rod Tweet wrote in an email to the Crew. “It’s been a really hectic year this year with getting the third location open and the brewhouse up and running and winning the bronze medal really tops it off for us. Really happy, thanks!”

Overall, the total of six medals matches the 2016 haul and is tied for the second most medals for New Mexico breweries in a single year.

We will be adding plenty more to this story as we track down the other award winners throughout the course of this final day of GABF. Congratulations to all the winners!

Now get out there today and enjoy some national champions!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s go-time for New Mexico breweries at the Great American Beer Festival this week!

The Great American Beer Festival returns this Thursday through Saturday at the Denver Convention Center, and once again New Mexico breweries will be well represented. This year the Crew is dispatching yours truly, plus Franz Solo, via the magic of press passes (Luke will also be there, but as a civilian, and we just want him to focus on having fun and not worry about work). We will be on hand for the sessions on Thursday and Friday nights, plus Saturday afternoon, and the awards ceremony before that.

For those who have never been, GABF is a massive event. It takes over a convention center several times the size of ours here in Albuquerque. In fact, the total space for the festival is equivalent to seven football fields. Breweries from around the United States will be on hand, some represented at hundreds of booths, others are just on hand for the competition.

There will be 12 New Mexico breweries represented, plus Marble gets a second booth this year (ah, the benefits of having two small brewer licenses between downtown and the Heights location). The majority (Bathtub Row, Bosque, Boxing Bear, La Cumbre, both Marble, Santa Fe, Sierra Blanca, Starr Brothers) are in the Southwest region, grouped with breweries from Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana. Dialogue Brewing will be in the Meet the Brewer area, while Blue Corn, Canteen, and Quarter Celtic will be in the Brewpub Pavilion. The New Mexico Brewers Guild will also have a booth along with the other state guilds, pouring beers from breweries without their own booths.

A lot of this probably does not mean much to many of you, who did not get (or even try to get) tickets to the event. For most folks back home, us going up and talking about what a great time we are having is almost a little callous. Our main goal with this event is to provide coverage of the awards ceremony, while also letting everyone in Denver know about the greatness of our breweries (more tourists can be a good thing), and of course trying lots of new beers that you can either seek out on your next vacation or via distribution.

Speaking of the awards ceremony, this year we have been privy to the competition beer lists for most of our local breweries. The awards ceremony happens Saturday at 10 a.m., and will be broadcast live over the internet. You can go to the GABF website that morning and find the link, but be forewarned, it is a notoriously fickle broadcast. We will have live updates via all three of our main social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). We also hope to have some live FB videos from the event. Since there are two of us, it should go a little smoother than last year. (Sorry again about the shaky cam motion sickness, Lonnie.)

Here are the competition lists we were sent from the Guild or directly from some breweries. Some may be incomplete, or are missing a key bit of info (name of beer, or which category that beer is being judged in). We are listing them by awards category, so you know which ones to pay attention to and which ones to run over and refill your coffee mug.

  • 4 Fruit Wheat Beer: Bosque Elephants on Parade, Sierra Blanca Cherry Wheat
  • 8 Chili Beer: Sierra Blanca Green Chile Cerveza
  • 9 Herb and Spice Beer: Blue Corn Ginger Braggot, Chama River Haru, Red Door Vanilla Cream Ale
  • 11 Coffee Beer: Blue Corn Apparition Pale Coffee Ale, Rio Bravo Pinon Coffee Porter
  • 15 Honey Beer: Nexus Honey Chamomile Wheat, Turtle Mountain Pour les Abeilles
  • 17 Session IPA: Boxing Bear Featherweight
  • 18a Other Strong Beer: Marble Double White, Nexus Imperial Cream Ale
  • 19a Experimental Beer: La Cumbre Hibiscus Quercus
  • 20 Fresh or Wet Hop Ale: Bosque Acequia IPA, Quarter Celtic Clark
  • 23 Belgo American Pale Ale: Second Street Diablo Canyon
  • 24 American-Style Sour Ale: Ponderosa Sour Belgian Brown
  • 26 Brett Beer: Flix Brewhouse Eater of Worlds
  • 28b Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer: La Cumbre Ryeot on Bourbon,
  • 29 Wood Aged Strong Beer: Bow & Arrow Cosmic Arrow Brett Saison, Chama River Natalia Polnoch’
  • 34b Zwicklebier: Marble Pilsner, Rio Bravo La Luz Light Lager
  • 36a American-Style Pilsner: Canteen Laid Back Lager
  • 36b International-Style Pilsner: La Cumbre BEER, Quarter Celtic Pedro O’Flannigan’s
  • 40b American Amber Lager – California Common: Second Street Rod’s Steam Bitter,
  • 41 German-Style Pilsner: Bow & Arrow Jemez Field Notes, Santa Fe Freestyle Pilsner, Sierra Blanca Desert Pilsner
  • 42 Bohemian Pilsner: Boxing Bear Body Czech Bo Pils, Canteen High Plains Pils, Dialogue Bo Pils, Sidetrack Pilsner
  • 47a Munich-Style Dunkel: Marble Dupy’s Dunkel
  • 49b German-Style Bock: Marble Maibock
  • 50a Doppelbock: Flix Brewhouse Now and Later, Nexus Doppelspock, Turtle Mountain SCH
  • 52 Blonde Ale: Starr Brothers L.A. Woman
  • 53 German-Style Kolsch: Canteen Kolsch, Chama River Kolsch, Steel Bender Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch
  • 56 English-Style IPA: Santa Fe Happy Camper IPA
  • 58 American-Style Pale Ale: Marble Pale Ale
  • 59 American Strong Pale Ale: Second Street 2920 IPA, Santa Fe 7K IPA
  • 60 American-Style IPA: Starr Brothers Starrstruck, La Cumbre Project Dank
  • 61 Imperial IPA: Second Street Imperial IPA, Canteen Astro Hound
  • 62 American-Style Amber/Red Ale: Red Door Roamer Red
  • 63 Double Red Ale: Steel Bender Red Iron Red, Boxing Bear The Red Glove, Bosque IRA, Starr Brothers Red Zepplin
  • 64 Imperial Red: Marble Imperial Red
  • 66b Special Bitter: Sidetrack Pub Ale
  • 67a American-Style Extra Special Bitter: Rio Bravo Amber
  • 67b Extra Special Bitter: Steel Bender Sparkfitter Amber
  • 69 Irish-Style Red Ale: Sidetrack Railhead Red, Quarter Celtic Crimson Lass
  • 70 English-Style Brown Ale: Sierra Blanca Bone Chiller, Santa Fe Nut Brown
  • 71 American-Style Brown Ale: Blue Corn End of the Trail Brown Ale, Ponderosa Bellamah Brown
  • 72 American-Style Black Ale: Bosque Fifth Value, Quarter Celtic Bruce
  • 73 Berliner Weisse: Bow & Arrow Way Out West Sour, Dialogue Berliner Weisse
  • 74b Contemporary Gose: Marble Passionate Gose, Rio Bravo Peach Gose
  • 79 Witbier: Flix Brewhouse Luna Rosa, Red Door Trapdoor White Ale
  • 80 Classic Saison: Bow & Arrow Sun Dagger
  • 85 Belgian Tripel: Flix Brewhouse Tripel Whammy
  • 86a Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale: Ponderosa Preacher’s Daughter
  • 89 Robust Porter: Starr Brothers Lampshade Porter
  • 90 Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout: Steel Bender Blue Bullet Stout
  • 92 American-Style Stout: Marble Cholo Stout
  • 93 Sweet or Cream Stout: Boxing Bear Chocolate Milk Stout, Red Door Paint it Black Milk Stout
  • 94 Oatmeal Stout: Blue Corn Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Chama River Sleeping Dog Stout, Sidetrack Dark Engine Stout
  • 96a Scottish Ale: Nexus Scotch Ale

The American-Style IPA category is always announced last, due to the fact it is the biggest (270-plus entries last year). And, yes, Chama River was still able to enter beers even though it technically no longer exists. Not sure how that works, but it does.

Among the beers with mystery categories, there is Dialogue’s Biere de Mars and Sour Raz, Rowley Farmhouse Ales’ Saison du Sarlacc, and Turtle Mountain’s Hard Bock Life. We can probably guess the categories, but for now we will just list them as unknown. We also know that Spotted Dog has beers in categories 57a (Australian or International-Style Pale Ale), 80 (Classic Saison), and 93 (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout), just not the name of any of those beers.

If any other New Mexico breweries have beers entered, we will find out one way or the other.

How well have our breweries done in the past? Well, Boxing Bear was the Mid-Size Brew Pub of the Year in 2016 and Marble Brewery was the Small Brewery of the Year in 2014. Canteen/Il Vicino has won 12 medals since 1995, Marble has won nine medals since 2011, and Chama River will try to add one or more to its total of eight since 2002. New Mexico has routinely ranked in the top percentage of medals in relation to state population and number of breweries.

If any of you are headed up and spot us amid the crowd (it can happen, just ask Michael Waddy from Kaktus), come over and say hello. We will always be more than willing to share what great beers we have found in our wanderings.

Some final tips if you are going.

  • Download the GABF app for your phone if you have not already. Tag the breweries you want to visit, and they will show up on your map. This is invaluable.
  • Keep an eye out for timed releases. Many of your favorite breweries will have small runs of some of their most exclusive beers. They will likely be announced on social media, so make sure you follow your favorites.
  • Hydrate! There are water stations everywhere. They are not just for washing out your glasses. Yes, it might send you to the bathroom faster than you want, but unless you are a human camel, you will have to go sooner or later.
  • Do not drive downtown. This is not just a safety issue, it is to spare you from the chaos of thousands of pedestrians in different states of inebriation, Uber/Lyft drivers, hundreds of taxis, one-way streets, and a whole lotta police. Leave the car at your hotel/friend’s house/Air BnB, wherever you are staying. Oh, and the cost of parking in downtown Denver goes through the roof during GABF, if you can even find a spot.
  • Check the main website for all the off-site events, and do a quick Google search for others. This could be especially relevant if you are not attending all the sessions, or you need something to do during the day besides wander aimlessly around downtown. Some of these are as fun as GABF itself, some might be even more fun if you are into certain beer styles that are represented at their own events.
  • There are too many good food options to possibly list here in Denver, but a few of our favorites include Jelly for brunch/breakfast, and then Rhein Haus, Freshcraft, Wynkoop, Rock Bottom (for a chain, they’re quality), and Breck on Blake (great guest beer menu) for lunch/dinner. There are plenty of food options within the convention center as well, so please do not attempt to get through a session on little or nothing but beer in your belly. It will not end well.
  • Breweries within spitting distance of downtown include some of our favorites, like Prost, TRVE, Great Divide, Our Mutual Friend, Ratio, and Spangalang, plus Crooked Stave if you love sours. Also, Bierstadt Lagerhaus, which is up by Crooked Stave, comes with the seal of approval of La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway. In fact, we fear that if we did not recommend you go there, Jeff would probably disown us and abandon us somewhere in the wilderness.

OK, that is all from us for now. If you have any questions at any point this weekend, whether you are going to be in Denver or are staying home, do not hesitate to contact us via the usual ways.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister