|Cover of 2015 GABF Program|
Brew Bus Brewing and Aardwolf Brewing (Florida) Win Medals at GABFIf you saw my social media feed over this past weekend, you know that I headed west to the Great American Beer Festival ("GABF") presented by the Brewers Association ("BA") at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. In its 29th year, the festival consisted of four sessions from Thursday to Saturday, and I attended two: Thursday opening night and Saturday afternoon members session. But, first things first. In addition to the beer tasting, there was also a behind-the-scenes beer competition going on. In fact, 6,647 beers from 1,552 breweries in all 50 states and D.C. were judged! The winners were announced Saturday morning, and the event was broadcast live via internet stream. All said, the judging panel of 242 beer experts from 15 countries, including the U.S.and 155 volunteers awarded 275 medals in 92 beer categories, including 145 styles.
Before heading to the Saturday session, I watched the live awards broadcast, and I about hit the ceiling when it was announced that Brew Bus Brewing (based in Tampa) won a Silver Medal for its "You're My Boy, Blue" blueberry wheat ale in the Fruit Wheat Beer category! You have to understand that I work for The Brew Bus-Jacksonville, and I was overcome with excitement. I think my social media feed went just a bit ballistic.
|You're My Boy, Blue Blueberry Wheat Ale;|
Made with blueberries
|It's an Aardwolf...|
there's even a mascot
Congratulations to all the winners, and especially to Brew Bus Brewing and Aardwolf Brewing on these medals -- no small task! And, I'll be happy to pour both of these beers for you on one of our Brew Bus-Jacksonville tours!
There's a First Time for Everything....
|Breweries arranged by geographic location, Brewpub Pavilion,|
Homebrew Marketplace, Beer Geek Bookstore, Merchandise, Brewers Guilds
So many breweries, so many beers. Overall, for as many people in attendance, the lines were generally very manageable, almost non-existent, and you were able to walk past the tables and read the beer descriptions. There were some brewers manning the tables, but it appeared that most of the servers were volunteers. Of course, there were a few breweries that always seemed to have lines that spanned across the aisle, including Allagash, Wicked Weed, and one certain South Florida brewery:
|Guess they wanted to Get Funky (Last Snow and more).|
You would've thought they were giving it away.....
|These guys took home a few medals....|
|Big crowds here|
|Randy Mosher, author of "Tasting Beer"|
The highlight of my Thursday night, however, was meeting Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer, at the Bookstore. I knew ahead of time (pre-planned!) when he would be there, and I had brought my copy of the book with me. This book was instrumental in helping me study for -- and pass -- the Certified Cicerone exam this summer, and it's been through the study-wringer: tabs and marked up. I showed it to Randy, and he even took a photo of me! Very cool talking with him. He autographed my book, and that was pretty cool! If you're planning on studying for the Certified Cicerone exam, this one's a must-read. Thanks, Randy!
That was pretty much Day 1 at GABF! I did some other things on Friday (more on that later), and then before you knew it, it was Saturday! Like I said above, I watched the live stream of the GABF winners until it was time to get going. I stayed at a hotel a little over a mile from the convention center. Although I walked it Thursday, I opted for Uber on Saturday...and that was another first...my first Uber! There was a GABF code, and the ride worked out great.
|Recognize them? Florida Brewers Guild|
The Brewers' Guilds were set up along a wall in the "Meet the Brewer Hall." Not only could you talk to the reps, but they were pouring some beers that were not available in the Main Hall. And, they did a really cool thing with a Brewers Guild Passport. Check-in to at least six, and you got a koozie! I talked to a bunch of the Guild reps, and got my passport stamped by nine, including closest (Florida) and farthest (Hawaii). It was fun talking to the rep from Indiana, and I got another Three Floyds beer there, too!
|Wyoming had some interesting animal photos...and captions!|
And, there probably aren't too many places where you can talk to Brewers Guilds, and then, just steps away, run into a character like the Yeti from Great Divide Brewing:
|He's real...... Having a Chocolate Yeti with, well......|
|Hey, that's a Jax Ale Trail shirt!|
|Caught up with Saltwater Brewery from Delray!|