The jealousy has finally subsided.
After a few weeks of dark, introspective depression and nursing myself with chicken soup to ease my wounded soul, I can finally write about the Great American Beer Festival. I wasn’t there.
This simple fact, alone, is one that I was reminded of again and again via Facebook status updates, intoxicated and joyful tweets and now the steady stream of pictures, further rubbing in the fact that my home state played host to my heroes, my friends and my dreams.
It was further made painful by the fact that a handful of my friends from NYC made their way west and came back with a glint in their eyes that was akin to explorers who had seen the new world. I even wrote about it last year with excitement (“The GABF: Get the F Out of Its Way“). This year took me a little longer. But fuck it, I’ve manned up. Here we go.
The GABF: Denver, Colorado. Every year around September and October. Began in 1982 by Charlie Papazian—known to homebrewers as the man who created the oft-overused, although the prisitinely perfect phrase, “Relax. Have a Homebrew”— in Boulder, Colorado with only 22 breweries in attendance, the GABF has become a juggernaut.
A tour de force of American brewing talent and a gaggle of fans akin to a UN summit of the world’s superpowers, or the masses who gathered at Woodstock to combat the powers of war with peace signs and hits off the nitrous tank. For the beer world, this is it. This is heaven’s gate.
Let’s look at some stats for 2010:
- 29th annual festival.
- More than 2,200 beers in the festival hall—the biggest selection of American beers ever served.
- 36,000 gallons of beer.
- 49,000 attendees expected (includes ticketed attendees, brewers, judges, volunteers and journalists).
- 462 U.S. breweries serving in the festival hall.
New This Year
- 56 new breweries serving in the festival hall.
- New beer style categories in the competition:
- American Style India Black Ale
- Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Stout
- Pumpkin Beer
- Field Beer
Despite the endless tables of beers and endless drones wandering the floor like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, the Great American Beer Festival is also the largest commercial brewing competition in the world. To take a gold medal here is an honor that any brewer would get down on a knee for and humbly offer his or her soul in the service of the Crown.
For a complete list of winners, click HERE.
Some of my favorite categories and winners:
Category 4: Field Beer (28 Entries)
- Gold: FROG’S HOLLOW DOUBLE PUMPKIN ALE, Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co., Akron, OH
- Silver: DARK O’ THE MOON, Elysian Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
- Bronze: IMPERIAL PUMPKIN ALE, Weyerbacher Brewing Co., Easton, PA
Category 47: American-Style India Pale Ale (142 Entries)
- Gold: “PSEUDO” IPA, Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, CA
- Silver: HEAD HUNTER IPA, Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, OH
- Bronze: LUMBERYARD EXTRA IPA, Lumberyard Brewing Co., Flagstaff, AZ
Category 48: Imperial India Pale Ale (97 Entries)
- Gold: DOHENY DOUBLE IPA, Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, CA
- Silver: HOP CRISIS!, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA
- Bronze: DECADENCE IMPERIAL IPA, Trinity Brewhouse, Providence, RI
Category 49: American-Style Amber/Red Ale (83 Entries)
- Gold: RED NECTAR, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
- Silver: HOP BACK AMBER ALE, Troegs Brewery, Harrisburg, PA
- Bronze: RED ROCK, Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, Berkeley, CA
Category 16: American-Style Sour Ale (39 Entries)
- Gold: BRUTE, Ithaca Beer Co., Ithaca, NY
- Silver: ERIC’S ALE, New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
- Bronze: RED POPPY, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
Category 18: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (77 Entries)
- Gold: BARREL AGED BIG ISLAND, Island Brewing Co., Carpinteria, CA
- Silver: HE’BREW RIPA ON RYE, Shmaltz Brewing Co., San Francisco, CA
- Bronze: MELANGE A TROIS, Nebraska Brewing Co., Papillion, NE
Category 19: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout (34 Entries)
- Gold: BOURBON BARREL AGED SEXUAL CHOCOLATE IMPERIAL STOUT, Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC
- Silver: REMY, TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Brea, CA
- Bronze: BOURBON COUNTY BRAND STOUT, Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL
Category 20: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer (54 Entries)
- Gold: LE SERPENT CERISE, Snake River Brewing, Jackson, WY
- Silver: TEMPTATION, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA
- Bronze: THE JASPERS, Bullfrog Brewery, Williamsport, PA
Category 64: French- and Belgian-Style Saison (52 Entries)
- Gold: SAISON VAUTOUR, McKenzie Brew House, Malvern, PA
- Silver: COLETTE, Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, CO
- Bronze: BELGIAN SUMMER ALE, Great Adirondack Brewing Co., Lake Placid, NY
Category 66: Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale (33 Entries)
- Gold: OUDE TART, The Bruery, Placentia, CA
- Silver: COOLSHIP RESURGAM, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
- Bronze: LE SERPENT, Snake River Brewing, Jackson, WY
Category 67: Belgian-Style Abbey Ale (76 Entries)
- Gold: NECTAR DES DIEUX, Bastone Brewery, Royal Oak, MI
- Silver: GOLDEN SLUMBER, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
- Bronze: THREE PHILOSOPHERS, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
Category 34: European-Style Dunkel (19 Entries)
- Gold: DUNKEL, AC Golden, Golden, CO
- Silver: DUNKEL LAGER, Triumph Brewing Co. of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
- Bronze: DARK SIDE LAGER, C.B. Potts Restaurant & Brewery (Fort Collins), Fort Collins, CO
Category 76: Imperial Stout (50 Entries)
- Gold: RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Wilmington, DE
- Silver: NIGHT RIDER IMPERIAL STOUT, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
- Bronze: ANASTASIA RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT, Weasel Boy Brewing Co., Zanesville, OH
Category 78: Old Ale or Strong Ale (38 Entries)
- FOURTH DEMENTIA OLDE ALE, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., Warren, MI
- CURMUDGEON, Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
- OUTBACK X, Bend Brewing Co., Bend, OR
One day. One day, I too will wander these crowds with a smile on my face and a hop in my step. You best be on the lookout, Denver. I’m coming for you.