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Thursday, October 09, 2008

GABF Set to Tip Off in Denver

The Great American Beer Festival is set to go in Denver. Even before the first session kicks off on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. the town is buzzing with brewers, beer fans and talk of great beer.

I arrived in the Mile High City earlier today. I had to catch up on some blogging and other work before heading out for a beer and dinner. I decided to make my first stop the Falling Rock Tap House on Blake Street. The Falling Rock is one of those places where you can always find someone you know during the GABF. It is the unofficial headquarters for many people attending the festival. You can check out the crowds by visiting www.fallingrocktaphouse.com and checking out the web cam.

It was not long before I ran into Jake Norris, the distiller at nearby Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. Before I could slip out I ran into Julie Johnson Bradford and Amy Dalton from All About Beer. It was not long before Daniel Bradford from All About Beer, beer writer Jay Brooks, publican Don Younger from the Horse Brass in Portland, Ore., Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver, author Maureen Ogle and San Francisco beer chef Bruce Paton arrived, along with dozens of others from the industry.

It felt like the Falling Rock was as good a place as any to spend the evening. I ended up having a pretty eclectic mix of brews.

Lost Abbey Witches Wit was light, yet flavorful. The beer had a slightly fruity upfront taste. It was a good start to a couple of great hours of beer.

My next selection was Big Sky Moose Drool Brown. I had not had this beer in several years and found it to be as good as I remembered it. The beer was malty and fresh with good depth.

Port Brewing's Old Viscosity Ale ("Not Your Dad's 30 Weight") was shared around the table. At 10 percent alcohol by volume this beer was coating and thick. It had a slight roasted quality and a pungent kick.

Just before departing the staff at Falling Rock announced some special brews had just arrived from Colorado's Avery Brewing, a long time favorite of mine. I decided to try the Avery Reverend Eagle Rare Ale, which was aged in barrels that once held Eagle Rare Bourbon. This was an interesting beer that had hints of grapefruit and apricot skin. It was a bright yellow color. I did not get the sense of Bourbon that you usually find with brews that spend time in whiskey barrels. In fact, my original reaction was the beer might have been aged in a chenin blanc or gewurztraminer barrel.

The real fun of GABF starts tomorrow with a number of special events and the opening session. Look for updates throughout the weekend.

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