Fresh Hop Winner # 2 – Pinthouse Pizza North

Silver was awarded to Fresh Hop Green Battles from Pinthouse Pizza North, no strangers to GABF medals.

Let’s pick a few other beers to sample from this four location brewery….

Magical Pils – “fruity and spicy hop profile, Pilsner malt, and a soft mouthfeel”

Bearded Seal Dry Irish Stout – “Our flagship Dry Irish Stout is a little bolder than the commercial example most people are familiar with, and is filled with aromas and flavors of roasted coffee and dark chocolate balanced with a nice dry finish.”

American Slang Dry Hopped Saison – “Spring Peach, Pomelo, White Pepper & Rustic Ingredients. Dry hopped with Amarillo and Citra”

Electric Union India Pale Kolsch – “Stone Fruit, Peach Rings, Grapefruit Zest. Hopped with Simcoe, Azacca, Mosaic, Chinook and Cashmere.”

Another GABF Schedule Change

No Great American Beer Festival for the second year in a row. The return has now been marked for Fall 2022. This year will be a combination of the brewery passport that they used for last year along with the Craft Brewer Conference and Denver Beer Week aligning in September. The awards will go on too and will be broadcast just like last year as well.

Obviously this was the safest option. They may well have been able to hold the event considering the vaccine rollout is over 17% now but any setback between now and September would have led to concerns. Not to mention that any festival this year would probably have to temperature check everyone or check their vaccination cards. Not to mention – Part 2, that they would probably have to reduce the amount of attendees drastically.

GABF Brewery # 5 – Del Cielo Brewing

We complete the year of brewery tours with a stop in Martinez, California for some beer from Heaven…

Del Cielo Brewing Co. got a gold in the fruited sour category for Guava Dreams. Let’s see what other beers I would order up for an initial taster tray.

Orale – “This traditional Mexican style beer celebrates Hispanic heritage with its light body and crisp finish. We used Saaz hops for a soft bitterness that brings an aroma of herbs and spice. With only 9.4 IBUs, this refreshing beer is perfect for summer enjoyment.”

Hoptinez IPA – “Hoptinez is a classic American IPA with a great copper color. Its tropical fruit aroma and strong stone fruit flavor comes from Citra and El Dorado hops. The profile is clean and crisp with a pleasantly bitter finish.”

Dad, You’re Muted IPA

Coisa Mais Linda – “Caipirinhas, the national cocktail of Brazil, inspired us to craft this version of our Cocktail Series. We threw in a Colombian twist by using the feijoa fruit and then added some pineapple to round out the juicy and sour tropical flavors. Each sip shines bright with notes of guava and pineapple and hints of apple and strawberry. Pink Himalayan salt accentuates the flavors of this Gose style beer.”

GABF Medal Winning Brewery # 1 – Twin Sisters Brewing Company

When I saw that a strawberry zwickebier had won Gold at this year’s GABF, I knew I would have to look into it. It came from Bellingham, Washington and the Twin Sisters Brewing Company.

Let’s see what else I would order next time I am in Northern Washington State.

Pilsner from Now On – “A brilliant gold Pilsner made in the classic Czech style. Spicy and fruity noble hop aromas. Smooth body and a crisp finish.”

Chap ESB – “Our Brew Boys’ take on a traditional ESB (Extra Special Bitter). With light hoppiness, aromas of marmalade, and soft caramel flavors reminiscent of pie crust and toast, this English pub-beer is the perfect ale for quaffing on a rainy day.”

Shift Bier Dortmunder – “Brewed in the traditional style, this pale lager is recognized for its firm bitterness, soft malt character, and unique minerality stemming from the hard water characteristic of the region. It’s slightly more malt-forward and higher in alcohol than its non-export counterparts but retains all the drinkability of a lower gravity lager. Dortmunder Export Lagers were historically a beer brewed for 19th-century German industrial workers, who would quaff it after long shifts at work.”

Bellingham Green IPA – “ A classic American IPA with firm bitterness, notes of citrus, pine, and resin. Crisp, clean finish.”

Brewnited

One of the event casualties of the virus was the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) which sucks for many reasons. It has been a reliable revenue stream for Denver area breweries, the Colorado economy and the Brewers Association (BA)  Due to the loss of their marquee event, the BA has had layoffs, most notably of the hard working and traveling Julia Herz who I have had the pleasure of hearing speak on a number of occasions.  

As that news hit, the GABF announced the 2020 version of their event which is a t-shirt and a passport. That passport “will have exclusive access to beery deals at participating festival breweries nationwide, and access to exclusive online content October 16-17. Online content will include Brewers Studio happy hours, tastings and interviews with brewers from around the country.”

I would love to see a behind the scenes of the judging. I know this year is not normal but I think it would be to get a peek at the process of one of the biggest aspects of the festival. I also think they should have a monthly countdown to next year’s event to keep GABF in people’s minds. 

Virtual GABF

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the big beer festival on the calendar is not going on as in the past. Instead of September 24-26 at the Big Blue Bear and in person in Denver, it will now be an “immersive online experience October 16-17.”

Though this sucks for the beer community and the breweries and bars in Denver that saw a big attendance boost, it was not a decision that comes as much of a surprise considering how 2020 is shaping up to be a year filled with bad news.

According to the Brewers Association, the virtual GABF is still in the planning stages but expect to see beer tastings, brewer interviews as well as food and beer pairing ideas possibly with a delivery of beer angle as well.

The good news is that the beer competition will take place in 2020. Will Pandemic beer be a style category?

I see this as a golden opportunity to try out crazy ideas and also how to incorporate more of the country into GABF since plane fare and time away is now off the table as an excuse not to go. And if all goes well with the re-openings, maybe smaller, mini GABFs can be held around the country. I vote for any wacky plan.

GABF Awards 2019

The votes have been tallied for 2019 and you can click HERE to see the winners from the Great American Beer Festival. Let’s rundown the Los Angeles medal view….

First though, let’s say upfront that only 2,295 breweries entered. California has 1,000+ breweries so this competition, though by far the biggest really only covers a percentage of beer in the US. Think of it as a snapshot in time.

Also, there are some weird categories. IPL is mixed with malt liquor. And some categories are only filled by 30 beers in total. And what makes a beer fit the “Emerging IPA” category?

On to LA, Claremont ring up gold for Station 101. Ambitious Ales bronze for their Friends-ian Central Perk coffee beer. King’s Brewing out in Rancho Cucamonga bagged two medals. Perennial favorites Beachwood and Firestone Walker each won but not as much as years past. Arrow Lodge and Ogopogo represented for Jungalo Juice and Boeman Witbier. Bluebird Brasserie won bronze for their excellent Stay Golden Belgian Ale. Gamecraft of Laguna Beach gave me another reason to finally visit with a medal in the coffee stout category.

What really made my day was Highland Park winning gold for Timbo Pils. Such a great beer. Also Evan and Brian at Green Cheek had a day with Gold for their Australian for Pale Ale and then a silver for Radiant Beauty in the ultra-competitive American IPA category. Well deserved.

What exemplifies the GABF awards are the apply moments and I leave for you with the one where Breakside Brewing of Portland was on stage, getting the glamour shot with Charlie Papazian when their name was announced as gold medal winner for another category. Brewer Ben Edmonds could not contain himself. He jumped up, bent over and was “in” the moment. That is what this whole revolution is about.

GABF Medal Winning Brewery # 3 – Wolverine State Brewing


I have saved the double winner for last. Ann Arbor’s Wolverine State Brewing picked up both Silver and Bronze this year.

SILVER – NZ Pils in the American-style Pilsener category
AND
BRONZE – Raucher in the Smoke Beer category

In addition to those winners, I would add the following to my taster tray….

Wheelbarrow Weekend – “a refreshing Munich Helles made with oats & fresh-squeezed lemon juice.”

Tundra King – “This new addition to our IPL lineup is in contrast to many of our other IPLs and hop-forward lagers because it’s even more injected with hoppy and bitter goodness!”

Gulo Gulo – “India Pale Lager (I.P.L.) is hopped with Cascade, Chinook, Columbus, Warrior and Pilgrim hops. It is dry-hopped once in the fermenter and then a second time with whole-cone Cascade hops before packaging.”

Barista – “We brew this beer in collaboration with Roos Roast of Ann Arbor. Karl the Brewer used to be a coffee roaster before joining the brewing world and so we put him in charge of the coffee side.”

GABF Medal Winning Brewery # 2 – Smylie Brothers Brewing


Our second Medal Winning stop is bemusing, Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. in from the city of Evanston. SBBC won silver in the Fruit Wheat Beer category for Purple Line, a wheat ale brewed with hibiscus, blueberry and blackberry. This beer is no stranger to hardware as it also won GABF medals in 2015 and 2017 too.

So with that lineage, here is what I would sample in my “imagined” taster flight…

Helles Lager – “A Bavarian style pale lager. Crisp and clean, showcasing Pilsner malt. Lightly hopped with German noble hops.”

Gin Barrel Farmhouse Saison – “Our Farmhouse ale aged in Chicago Distilling Co.’s Finn’s Gin barrels.”

Simcoe Pale Ale – “An American Pale Ale hopped exclusively with Simcoe hops. Light and crisp malt body with pungent notes of pine, grapefruit and citrus.”

Grisette – “Light in body and low in alcohol, this saison is brewed with spelt, an heirloom variety of wheat. Floral aroma with notes of lemon and citrus. Very dry, crisp and refreshing.”

Smy Rye IPA – “Rye IPA brewed with Ekuanot and Citra hops. Aromas of citrus peel, melon and pine, with a crisp rye spice.”