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Saturday, September 30, 2006

GABF: Day 2 Round Up

The Friday night session at the Great American Beer Festival was a sellout, with scalpers hawking tickets in front of the Colorado Convention Center. Some fans unloaded extra tickets at face value, while others got as much as $90 per ticket for the four and a half hour tasting session.

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Prior to the start of the session, the International Mead Association and several meaderies hosted a reception at the Hyatt. Mead, the oldest alcohol beverage, is made from honey. Products like braggot, made with malt and mead; cyser, made with mead and apple cider, apple juice or apples; and melomel, mead and any fruit other than apples or grapes; demonstrate the range of the beverage.

David Myers, Chairman of the Mead at Redstone Meadery in Colorado, said the $20 million U.S. mead industry has the potential to double in size during the next five years. He says the rallying cry for the industry is "Ask for Mead."

The 2007 International Mead Festival will be held Feb. 9-10, 2007, in Denver.

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Starwood Hotels has launched a program for the Four Points by Sheraton chain to make it "The Beer Hotel." The Best Brews effort beefs up the beer selection at each property. The company has become the official hotel of the Brewers Association, which plans to provide assistance with staff training.

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I was able to sample a wide range of beers at the Great American Beer Festival Friday evening. A few of the highlights included:

Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter Winter Warmer: This Colorado brewer adds cocoa powder and honey to a well hopped beer to create a sweet, but balanced brew.

New Holland Brewing Dragon's Milk: A big flavored dark beer with honey notes.

Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA: The addition of jasmine puts an interesting twist on the traditional India pale ale flavor profile.

Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale: One of the few pumpkin beers being poured at the GABF, this 7 percent alcohol by volume brew is a real treat. Plenty of pumpkin and spice flavor in the profile.

Prescott Pilsner 500: A very nice Czech style pilsner beer that in a festival where big beers can dominate your taste buds did a great job bringing through the classic hop and malt balance.

Stone Brewing 10th Anniversary IPA: This San Diego brewery is quickly becoming a west coast powerhouse. The celebratory IPA is hoppy, rich and chewy.

Lazy Magnolia Amber Jack Rye: A clean and crisp beer with rye notes that emerge pleasantly. This Mississippi brewery makes one of the best of this style I've ever had.

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The winners of Great American Beer Festival medals will be announced on Saturday. A record 2,425 beers -- up 3 percent from last year -- have been judged during this week in Denver. Winning a medal can be a marketing bonanza for a brewery.

The most crowded category is the American-style India pale ale, which attracted 94 entries this year. Other highly contested categories include the wood and barrel aged, 87 entries; American-style pale ale, 84; American-style strong pale ale, 66; herb and spice beer, 62; and American-style amber/red ale, 61.

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