Archive for the ‘GABF 2018’ Category

Musings from GABF 2018: Dawn of the Dragon on Day 1

Posted: October 4, 2018 by Franz Solo in GABF 2018
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The variants of New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk were exceptional at GABF.

Franz Solo here. I’ve finally gotten around to piecing together my take on our second GABF experience as members of the esteemed press. (Your second, my third, Luke’s first. — S) What follows is exactly what happened, nothing omitted, nothing added, no more, no less than the truth, er, that’s what we usually do. And now for something completely different.

Metal is a must when flying.

The day started ominously, a cold, dark drizzle like some leftover tropical deluge from yesterday’s trip. Delayed en route as some strange screeching and sliding vehicles decided to collide. But, we made it anyway. There was no trouble with the guards or the weird scanners and they strangely set us loose. It begins! Omnium Gatherum pummeling my brain cells to awakening with the Burning Cold as we ascend in the clouds riding this steel torpedo through the mist. To the mountains, green and gold with flares of red as the Aspen change and snow kisses the peaks, to them we fly as clouds of a cloud or some wandering eldritch vapor the haze of such a like we had never seen.

LVX Lightbringer pierced our cloud existence with cruel harsh morning light, glare upon glare. But, those of us who had traveled all night were in desperate need of charging from a different source, our dark lord and savior of mornings: Coffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. This, however, was no ordinary blanket of haze. She returned and crashed over us in wave after wave, steel crushing, steel battering our skulls, er, well, you’ve heard this tale before, nothing novel, all is permitted.

The various levels of Crew consciousness on the train from the Denver airport.

We of the great white moth flecked silver turned downward in a great swooping and screeching of metals wings and gnashing sharp pointy teeth. But, to what end? With Odin on our side, to Valhalla we ride! Train ticket, eh? And, here we go!

We arrived at our hotel early, but were greeted warmly and given an early check-in, which was, well, wonderful. Our room has quite a view of the convention center and feels like we are in some Bond villain’s lair with all of the gadgets and modern accoutrements. I mean, the regular patrons of the establishment looked at us in our black metal shirts with some kind of surprised shock and horror that we could possibly also be guests in the hotel. Little did they know that we had every right to the suite, just as much as they, and in the end, we were probably far less of a nuisance overall.

There were a few thoughts of taking the Denver Biscuit Company artwork home, but alas, none of our luggage could fit this masterpiece of weird.

We took our time and unwound before going down to grab our credentials and check in at the convention center as members of the press. This was swiftly and efficiently accomplished with a smile from some very nice staff. At this point, it had been some 16 hours since my last actual meal, so we hungry and caffeine-deprived trio headed to Denver Biscuit Company to refuel and regroup.

This was a weird sort of time warp, a place stuck between the days of atomic cowboys and neon, and fat man and little boy, and something quite modern as well. The coffee was plentiful and delicious, biscuits to tame the savage hunger of the weary traveler. The patio was overrun by 20 or so Stone Brewing employees, so we knew we were in the right place.

Mere blocks from our black metal friends at TRVE, we simply had to head over for a pint. Abysswalker was our choice, a lovely breakfast haze with sweet fresh grass, orange, and a mineral finish. These quaffed, it was time for a well-deserved nap in our delightfully frigid room, which was a wonderful respite from the heat which blasted off our friendly clouds and the haze of our morning flight.

The mere fact they still give us press passes is remarkable.

A quick bite and a draught later it was time. We stalked down Stout Street to the press and brewer entrance and were swiftly through the queue. The doors were opened and we flooded in to the great hall where the beer never ends. Being allowed in the venue a tad before the great hordes would stampede, I took a few moments to drink in the aromas, the sights, the sounds of what was to come. One of my favorite traditions is the pipe-and-drum band that symbolically opens each tasting session, which of course becomes all the more hilarious seeing some of the more hungover fellow travelers on the later days react in horror to the wonderful noise they make.

Hello, friends, part one.

Hello, friends, part two.

On to our assignment, we initially visited as many of our local New Mexico breweries as possible before turning loose on the plethora of amazing options for us to sample. Beyond that, we made some new acquaintances with a fair swath of brews across the spectrum. Highlights of the evening for me were the following:

  • Lagers from Skull Mechanix Brewing out of Austin, Texas, with some really great German and Czech examples quite true to the original styles.
  • Dragon’s Milk Maple Oak bourbon barrel-aged stout from New Holland was just incredible as well, like a triple stout version of liquid pancakes (Great Notion’s Double Stack is one of our absolute favorites in the same vein), decadent to the last drop. 
  • Brooklyn Brewing’s 2014 cognac barrel-aged barleywine, Hand & Seal, which they graced us with was incredibly smooth and had a lovely depth of character.
  • Mocha Machine from Beachwood Brewing of Long Beach, California, could really wake the dead with such a strong coffee character deep and earthy.
  • Avery brought out the big guns with four of their five beers clocking in at over 16-percent ABV, all of which were lovely. Fimbulvvinter and Plank’d were new to me and really excellent, especially with the barrel-tapped version of Plank’d. We may have stopped just a couple of times for my favorite beer, Tweak, as well and I had the chance to snap a photo of myself with Adam Avery, which was quite a memorable moment.

An unexpected delight, the lagers from this Austin brewery were tremendous.

This was a bucket-list brewery for Stoutmeister.

We may have revisited this local brewery a few times. Just a few.

The beard game at GABF was strong this year.

To round out this lovely beginning to the weekend were stops at Cigar City for fresh Jai Alai (a much needed hop-filled respite from the ever-ranging plethora of wonderful pastry and barrel-aged stouts), Oskar Blues for more stout goodness with JAHvanilla Ten FIDY (man this was outstanding and a much needed coffee boost), and finishing with some Heretic Goo prior to Horse and Dragon, which had many lovely stouts (more on these later).

With that, our first day of the adventure was complete, now for the rush of night air on our short stroll back to the fifth floor of our lair to re-hydrate and regroup, take in the great roar and the hum of well, the great droves such as we who love great beer. 

Cheers to Adam Avery and all the wonderful beers his brewery has bestowed upon us.

I’ll return next week with tales from day two in Valhalla. Until then, challenge your palates, drink deep, and be never afraid to try a new beer, you never know what wonders or horrors you might find!

Skål!

— Franz Solo

Head brewer Rob Whitlock was all smiles after winning his first GABF medal.

Life has not slowed down after the Great American Beer Festival for any of us in the Crew, much less for the brewers and brewery owners around town. In an effort to still catch up with most of the medal winners, I managed to track down our last missing first-time winner, head brewer Rob Whitlock of Starr Brothers, late last week.

Then I went to Denver again and saw an epic metal show. Now that my hearing has recovered enough to transcribe the interview, here is what Rob had to say after Starr Brothers brought back its first GABF medal, a bronze for Lampshade Porter in the Other Strong Beer category.

“You go in hoping for the best, but you’re ready for the letdown,” Rob said. “Every time I looked down when they got to one of our categories. I don’t look at the (video) board. I heard them say, ‘Lampshade Porter, Starr Brothers Brewing Company.’ I was like, ‘what?’ and then I was like, ‘bullshit!’ Then I looked at the board and it was up there on the screen. I was like, ‘Yeah!’”

The Starr Brothers team — Rob, assistant brewer Matthew Pullen, owner John Starr — was sitting on the aisle, so it was an easy walk to the stage to get the medal and the fist bump from the legendary Charlie Papazian. The Boxing Bear staff was also sitting across the aisle and had plenty of colorful, yet supportive words.

“Justin (Hamilton) and those guys were sitting on the other side of the aisle, and they’re (yelling), ‘Fuck yeah, Rob!’” Rob said with a laugh.

Rob had never been a professional brewer when he got the job at Starr Brothers. He was a retired plumber and accomplished home brewer, and he did spend several months as a sort of unpaid intern at Boxing Bear, learning all he could from Justin.

Now it has all paid off. Starr Brothers has already earned recognition for its food, and now it has the beer medal to match, if not surpass those accolades.

“It validates us, it validates my beer, that’s what it does,” Rob said. “I always try to be humble, but I know I make good beer. I have a pretty good palate. I’m never 100-percent happy with it, there’s always things that can be done, it can always be made better, but there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Doing it with a year-round offering is even better.

“This is one of our staples, yeah,” Rob said. “I’ve brewed it a thousand times in my garage before I came down here. It was the first beer we brewed on this system. Over the last year, year-and-a-half, I started whittling away at the recipe, really doing this with it, really dialing it in.”

The category proved key for Starr Brothers, as Lampshade had never advanced far enough in the Robust Porter category.

As many other brewers have learned, it is not only all about the quality of the beer, but what category is chosen.

“I always enter it in robust porter and it always advances (up to a point),” Rob said. “This time I really started looking through the categories. I found Other Strong Beer, and there’s a sub-category Strong American Porter. I read the thing and that description fits Lampshade. It’s going to go up against all these other strong beers, there’s three sub-categories. It made it.”

In the end, all the hard work, from making the beer, to refining the beer, and self-transporting it all the way to Denver, has paid off.

“It just lets me know that I can do it,” Rob said. “You go in there and it’s just overwhelming, the (sheer) number of beers. This is my third GABF and I’ve done one World Beer Cup. You start to think, it’s $160 per beer to enter them, and you go to all this trouble and expense and (think) nothing’s going to happen, but then something happens. I can do it.”

Congrats to Rob and the Starr Brothers team. It is always nice to see so many first-time winners among our breweries (New Mexico had four of the 31 first-time winners, in fact).

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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RFA at GABF, from left: Charlie Papazian, head brewer Wes Burbank, assistant brewer Tyler King, Kaley (the girl under the tree), Chef Jeffrey Kaplan, friend of the brewery Jim Steinbach, badass Elissa Ritt, and Hoss. (Photo courtesy of Rowley Farmhouse Ales)

Denver is a city of liquid dreams and harsh mornings. From all over the country, much of the beer industry flies or drives into town for the annual Great American Beer Festival, a week-long bout of beer tasting and bonding, followed by an immense awards ceremony, a culmination that becomes the true test of one’s mettle. And, there’s medals, too.

GABF 2018 has come and gone, and once again there hasn’t been so many disappointed bearded folk since Smaug moved into the Lonely Mountain. I kid, though. Honestly, win or lose, there are few such ginormous gatherings that bring the brewing industry together like this one.

At the end of the weekend, however, what you take away from GABF is truly up to you, well, and the 293 judges in attendance. Was it that woman you met? The memories you (may or may not have) made with your bearded and pink-booted buds? Or, was it that all-important recognition of taking home a medal in one of the 102 categories? 2,404 breweries entered 8,496 beers in the competition this year. Not all were going to return home victorious, but our state did as well we’ve done in the past with seven medal wins.

Stoutmeister, our fearless editor, whose own mettle rivals Thorin Oakenshield himself, already caught up with a few of our other medalists in the midst of the mile-high festival, there at the mountains of madness. But, now that we’ve all made it safely back to land of enchanted beers, and all of the Crew is accounted for, even me, with livers and fancy Bierstadt glassware intact, it was high time we got back to business as usual and catch up with the rest of our New Mexico winners to find out what it’s like to bring home those shiny coveted awards.

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My view of the awards ceremony.

Since Santa Fe is my hometown and turf, I caught up with silver medalist, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, a brewery that just celebrated its second year in the business.

In the small but friendly taproom, head brewer Wes Burbank and brewmaster John Rowley joined me for a sampling of one of their yet-untapped creations.

Though it’s a first GABF win for Rowley Farmhouse Ales, these guys are no strangers to beer competitions or medals. For Burbank, it’s his eighth GABF medal with a brewery, having worked with the likes of Backcountry, Crooked Stave, Dry Dock, and Left Hand to name a few, but this was his first fist bump from Papazian. For John, it’s certainly not his first GABF rodeo either, just the first medal he got to bring home with him. Yet, for their plentiful past experience, this GABF was special to both.

“I gotta say it feels pretty good,” Rowley said. “We were sitting there, waiting for our name to be called. All the breweries were there. You’re kind of getting disappointed because you’re not hearing your name, category after category. I was actually kind of looking at my phone at that point. Then, when I heard Germophile, I said, ‘Fuck yeah!’”

And, if it’s not currently under his pillow right now, I’ll eat my hat. I will eat my hat, sir!

“We had all of our (tasting) glasses on the floor,” Burbank said. “When I heard them say our beer, I accidentally kicked one of those little plastic glasses halfway across the hall!”

The RFA crew celebrated here and there with other breweries and beer friends while working three events that day at Hops and Pie, Falling Rock, and Goed Zuur. It wasn’t until after, that they really processed the win.

“When I was finally alone, after all the celebrating, I lost it,” Burbank said. “It all hit me, what we did, how hard we worked. I was overwhelmed. It was a great feeling.”

“By that point in the night we were pretty torched,” Rowley added.

As previously mentioned, Rowley had won competitions for his beers before but not quite like this. He had won a medal at the National Homebrew Competition, and many local awards.

“It’s not the same,” Rowley said. “This is such a greater magnitude. This is definitely another level.”

Homebrew competitions are still important. Homebrewing is where many of us start that journey towards brewery ownership and GABF awards. It has been that way for so many in our industry. Speaking of which, The Santa Fe Open homebrew competition is coming up soon.

“Go to santafeopen.org. It’s coming up the weekend of November 8, but you have to get your entries in now. There’s posters all over the place, in most of the breweries and Southwest Grape & Grain. If you want your beer to be evaluated by a reasonably good group of judges, and I know they’ll have some certified National Judges, this is your thing,” Rowley said.

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The Winner – Germophile. Image courtesy of head brewer Wes Burbank

Germophile won silver in the Berliner-style Weisse category. It had 115 entries.

“Berliner Weisse is a very simple style of beer,” Burbank said. “Which is why I couldn’t be more proud that we won with this one, because this beer is all about execution. Pretty much every Berliner Weisse is the same recipe with different tweaks here and there. It’s just a super wheat beer that’s soured. Ours is 50-percent wheat, 50-percent pilsner. It’s super easy.”

With sour beers there’s a lot of sliding on that quality and flavor scale, but it comes down to how the brewery controls that slide that makes the beer successful.

“I think our process is dialed in,” Rowley said.

“The only thing I really tweak with it is water profile, to see if I can make it just a little bit better,” Burbank added.

It was just the second batch of Germophile made by Rowley Farmhouse Ales, and Burbank’s first batch.

I asked the guys, out of all the beers they’d sent in to be judged at GABF, which beer would they want to win for?

Rowley said, “Actually I’m most happy with this beer winning. This beer is a beer we can make all the time. It’s a core offering. We sell it all the time, make it all the time. It hasn’t been a huge seller for us, but it’s steady. It moves.”

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As seen at GABF!

“This is one of the first times I can say there’s nothing I could have done better with this beer. For me, as a brewer, this is the best one for me, because it’s not about exotic ingredients or how many hops you can stuff into a keg. It’s a very simple beer, and it’s just down to execution,” Burbank said.

For next year, Rowley assured me they’re just going to keep on brewing, and brewing more Berliner Weisse, for sure.

I would like to congratulate the entire crew at Rowley Farmhouse Ales on their Silver Medal win and all of our other winners this year at the Great American Beer Festival. As always, I can’t wait to see how everyone does next year. To all the brewers in New Mexico making amazing beers, to continuing to challenge yourselves, your equipment, and our palates, we raise up the glassware!

Cheers!

— Luke

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For more #CraftBeer news and @nmdarksidebc stories, follow me on Twitter at SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke

We had to borrow this epic selfie of Turtle Mountain’s Mick Hahn and friends after he won a gold medal Saturday. (Courtesy of TMBC)

Phew, that was quite the weekend up in Denver. We missed some stuff in our constant rush to get from place to place, from beer to beer. Hey, it was just another Great American Beer Festival, but we did have some additional tidbits of info and the like that we wanted to share.

During my brief interview with a joyful Mick Hahn of Turtle Mountain, I asked a tough question about whether it is even sweeter to win with a lager, considering how most casual beer drinkers probably do not understand how much harder it is to brew a lager than an ale. Mick was ready to celebrate, so he could not come up with an answer then, but after a while he messaged this to us:

“I thought of an addendum to the interview (Saturday). You asked about the consumers’ understanding of the intricacies and difficulty of lager vs. ale. I think I can sum it up with an experience from this weekend. Friday, I was at Prost and saw someone wearing a shirt, the back of which said: MALT WATER HOPS YEAST PATIENCE

“I fucking love that. While not a traditional ingredient, patience is so crucial to making a good beer, and that goes 10 fold for lagers. You see breweries expanding and making more and more beer simply so they can turn a greater profit. When your focus shifts from quality of product to quantity, you lose that patience that (is) so crucial to maximizing flavor.

“Working at Turtle has given me the opportunity to let that patience grow, and I think that is the biggest reason we were able to bring home the gold.”

Once again, congrats to Mick for bringing home the first gold/first GABF medal in the 19.5-year history of Turtle Mountain. Owner Nico Ortiz texted us to say he was planning on borrowing the medal to wear all day Thursday for his birthday. The Crew humbly suggests that everyone head to TMBC on Thursday and raise a pint of Wooden Teeth to Nico, Mick, and the rest of their team.

Say, that tattoo looks familiar

New Mexico native Chris Keeton won gold in the English IPA category for Alaro Brewing of Sacramento, California.

Shortly after posting our story about the award winners, we received a tip from reader Jim Bullard that we kinda sorta missed one New Mexico medal winner. The catch was the winner was a brewer from New Mexico who now brews in California.

Jim wrote, “Would like to pass on that Albuquerque native Chris Keeton scored a gold medal with the Alaro Brewing Castillo IPA, from Sacramento, California. Chris had recently collaborated with Justin Hamilton from Boxing Bear on the NABA (North American Beer Awards) winner Cali Common. Chris was in attendance with wife Lauren and 5-month-old Bennett who was present for the showing of the Bennett Pale Ale!”

Jim’s comment arrived at the same time Luke sent over the above photo after randomly running into Keeton, who apparently recognized the Crew symbol on Luke’s shirt. Keeton and his family were on the move, so they did not have time for an interview, but we plan to reach out to Alaro Brewing in the near future. We know there are other New Mexico natives brewing outside the state, but to our knowledge, Keeton is the first to claim a GABF gold medal. His Castillo IPA took the top spot in the English-style India Pale Ale category.

Know of a brewer from New Mexico who now brews elsewhere? Send us the info on him/her and we can put together a fun list.

Sampler tray

  • For anyone planning way ahead, GABF will be back in October next year, specifically from the 3rd through the 5th. The Craft Brewers Conference will also be back in Denver in the spring, but as it is an odd-numbered year, there will not be a World Beer Cup competition.
  • The Crew found a couple new eateries that we recommend for anyone visiting Denver. The Denver Biscuit Company on South Broadway was as good as advertised, plus it is a short walk from there to TRVE Brewing. We also hit up a new-to-us breakfast place called Syrup, on the corner of 18th and Champa downtown. Otherwise, we hit a lot of familiar eateries, including Jelly and Rhein Haus, plus of course we ate while downing all those delicious beers at Bierstadt Lagerhause. Future food suggestions are always welcome.
  • A few of the beers that blew us away, but are probably harder than hell to find on a regular basis: Great Notion’s Double Stack, New Holland Dragon’s Milk Reserve Maple Oak, Bosque Acequia IPA (we had to get it there since we missed the can release down here), the entire lager lineup from Chuckanut Brewing, Brooklyn Hand & Seal (Barleywine) aged in cognac barrels, Liquid Mechanics Barrel-Aged Awesomeness, Horse & Dragon’s BBA Dragonfire Imperial Stout, Black Sky’s Angel of Death Stout, Beachwood’s System of a Stout, Fremont’s BBA Dark Star Coffee Edition, Cigar City’s Coconut Marshal Zhukov’s, the entire lager lineup at Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Speakeasy’s Syndicate No. 4, AleSmith’s Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout, Kane’s A Night to End All Dawns and Sunday Brunch, Modern Times’ Devil’s Teeth and Fellowship of Xul, and of course Avery’s 16-percent BBA lineup of Fimbulvvinter (Quintuple), Tweak (Coffee Stout), Plank’d (Porter), and Rumpkin, with the last two straight from the barrel.
  • How are we not dead? Because Franz Solo drank even more than just those.
  • The others will have more to share this week from their own adventures. We also promise to track down first-time medal winners Starr Brothers and Rowley Farmhouse Ales, as they disappeared into the crowd Saturday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

A lot of tired brewers and brewery owners came to life when their names were announced at the GABF Awards Ceremony!

DENVER — The 2018 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony was another good one for New Mexico breweries. The Saturday morning event saw 2,404 breweries enter 8,864 beers, judged by 193 people, and spread across 102 categories, plus a new collaboration and the Pro-Am competition.

Eight New Mexico breweries shared in seven medals, a significant improvement from the World Beer Cup earlier this year, when only Quarter Celtic brought home a single bronze medal for its Pedro O’Flanagan.

“It means we make good beer still,” said John Gozigian, the executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild. “What did we win (at WBC), one medal? It was an anomaly. We always tend to medal disproportionately to our population.”

We were lucky in that Turtle Mountain head brewer Mick Hahn, left, found us at the session after the awards ceremony.

Turtle Mountain earned its first gold medal in the International-style Pilsner category with Wooden Teeth. The year-round offering is a huge win for brewer Mick Hahn and owner Nico Ortiz, beating out 85 other entries.

Mick was not in attendance when the award was announced.

“I was at our AirBnB, not quite sipping the champagne yet, but enjoying the hell out of it,” he said. “We didn’t go to the awards ceremony but we were streaming it at the house. When they announced it we just exploded. It was fantastic. I couldn’t be happier. There was a liquor store right across from the house so I ran across the street to get some champagne.”

After 19 years in business, this was the first major competition medal for Turtle Mountain.

“That’s just awesome,” Gozigian said. “For a new brewery to win is great, but to see one of the stalwarts of our brewing scene to come out of the woodwork and win in a very competitive category, I’m very happy for them.”

Mick said he was over the moon after hearing his beer’s name called on the internet broadcast.

“It means so much,” Mick said. “Turtle deserves so much more (praise) than what they have right now, in my opinion. I hate hearing people say, ‘I love it, but I never go out to Rio Rancho.’ It’s a drop in the bucket, I’m sure, but every little bit helps. A gold medal for our house lager? Yeah.”

La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway chews on another silver medal for his Malpais Stout.

There were two silver medals awarded to local breweries. La Cumbre’s Malpais Stout took second in the Export Stout category, while Rowley Farmhouse Ales earned its first medal with Germophile in the Berliner-style Weisse category, which had 115 entries.

“Always the runner up,” said La Cumbre owner/master brewer Jeff Erway. “It’s my third silver. I’m really stoked to not go home empty handed. I tasted this batch and said this is about as good as that beer ever gets. I’m really pleased with the whole team. It gets increasingly harder as the brewery gets bigger to make sure that every person back there is engaged. I’m kind of in awe of Daniel (Jaramillo) and Alan (Skinner) and how they manage the team back there. I’m real proud of everybody. Probably 20 people touch this beer. The fact that no one screwed it up is awesome.”

Bronze was the color of the day with five breweries bringing home four medals. How did that work? Well, Quarter Celtic and Palmer Brewery earned bronze in the Collaboration Beer category with Mocha Hipster Bomb.

“Brady (McKeown, head brewer) is battling in that brewhouse and it’s starting to show,” said Quarter Celtic co-owner Ror McKeown. “We’re fortunate that Rob (Palmer) was a super cool guy and has some talent himself. He was willing to jump in with us. I told him, first GABF, first beer you entered, first medal, you set the bar real high. It was a good time, but unfortunately Brady will never get to come again, since we figured out the trick was to take his cutout instead of him.”

Yes, Quarter Celtic really did take a cardboard cutout of Brady up on stage.

The Brady McKeown cutout made it to the stage at the awards ceremony, courtesy of his brother Ror.

“You never expect to win, but you want to come prepared,” Ror said. “I took that cutout. It was nice, especially since this is (Charlie) Papazian’s last year. It was our last chance to get a fist bump from him.

“(Papazian) was laughing. We went up early enough so he wasn’t tired. He told us that’s awesome. Usually you can’t get too many words out of him. He had a pretty big grin on his face.”

For Palmer, this was his first major award.

“I’ll probably never enter another beer again,” Rob said. “First beer, medal, done.”

He was actually luck to even make it into the awards ceremony at all.

“I didn’t expect the collab category to be (early), I thought it would be in the middle somewhere,” Rob said. “I’m all hungover as shit. We were at the gentlemen’s club last night. I didn’t have a pass to get in. Canteen gave me an extra pass. I sat down, tried not to throw up, and then I heard the name called. It was fucking awesome. Getting to fist bump Charlie Papazian, man, best thing ever. I’m super stoked.”

Rob Palmer’s hangover disappeared quickly thanks to his bronze medal.

Starr Brothers brought home its first medal with a bronze in the Other Strong Beer category with Lampshade Porter, another year-round beer.

Sierra Blanca’s Cherry Wheat medaled for the second straight year, this time taking bronze in the Fruit Wheat category (it won gold last year).

Bosque’s Pistol Pete’s 1888 finished third out of 127 entries in the Golden or Blonde Ale category.

“It’s awesome,” said Bosque co-owner/director of brewing operations John Bullard. “We did the same thing with Bosque IPA (medaling), that was cool, too. That really drove sales. I’m really hoping this will continue to drive sales. We’re having a hard time keeping up with this beer already, but it can’t hurt, right?”

The Crew will try to catch up with the other medal winners while we are all here in Denver, but just in case we cannot find them, we will interview them upon our return to New Mexico this coming week.

Congrats to one and all, and thank you for always representing New Mexico in such a positive way.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Crew finds Stoutmeister’s favorite street.

First, the good news: the Dark Side Brew Crew is in Denver for another round of the Great American Beer Festival! This is normally where one would follow that with some sort of bad news, but there isn’t any, at least not for us.

Once again, we are covering America’s largest craft beer festival out of the Colorado Convention Center, today (Thursday) through Saturday afternoon, including the Saturday morning awards ceremony.

A room with a view.

Our day so far involved waking up way too early, then flying to Denver and taking the train into town. From there, we stopped at the hotel (it is kinda close, as the picture shows above), grabbed our credentials early, and then naturally began to pack on the massive amount of food we will need to get through this first night even semi-coherently. Huzzah to Denver Biscuit Company on South Broadway, and an equally big huzzah to the fact we could walk from there to our home away from home, TRVE Brewing.

Of course an IPA from TRVE was how we started our drinking day.

With an Abysswalker IPA to get us going, here is just some of the stuff we have planned over the next four days:

  • Live videos via Facebook and Instagram from the floor of GABF. We will be stopping by to talk to as many of our New Mexico breweries as we can find (they changed it this year; rather than grouping breweries geographically as in the past, they are now in alphabetical order). If you are not following us on social media, now is the time. Ignore politics and all that, just focus on the goodness of the craft beer, and even Twitter can still be fun.
  • Franz Solo will provide daily written recaps here on the site. To avoid unintelligible gibberish, these will be posted the day after each session. Look for Saturday’s fairly early, as we have the awards ceremony at 10 a.m.
  • Live awards ceremony coverage, including post-ceremonial interviews with what we hope to be many, many local brewers who are bringing home medals!
  • Plus, whatever else we think of on the fly.

We realize it has become really hard, if not almost impossible, to get tickets to this event. We will do our best to take you inside so that you get to experience almost all of GABF from the comfort of your computer, tablet, or phone. If we could find a way to teleport samples of the many great beers to you, we would, but alas, that technology does not exist yet. Come on, scientists, get on that!

We found the Santa Fe Brewing van, but not the Santa Fe brewers.

Got any questions? Any suggestions for things you would like to know about? Just message us here or on social media and we will do our best to provide that for you.

As always, just wish us luck surviving this epic sorts of madness, in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave, may live, forever!

After food, coffee, and one beer apiece, we are much more awake now than we were back at the Sunport.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister