30 September 2011

GABF Day 1 - Thursday night session

Session #1 GABF

It is a very overwhelming feeling walking to the Colorado Convention Center knowing you have 465 breweries and over 2400 beers to choose from.  I am more of the stoic thinker when it comes to where I am going to hit than the ravenous person grabbing samples at every single table.  I had my must hits for the night, but I was really caught off guard at how many places were already out of beer by around 8:30.  Many beers were simple gobbled up as quickly as thirsty beer drinkers could get to them.  The convention center is easily laid out based on geographic region and then the brewers are then split up alphabetically.  It is pretty easy to get around and find the brewery you are looking for. It was exciting to see a new Indiana brewery Figure 8 representing Indiana as well.  The lines are usually not that long except for the end cap breweries that have massive followings.  The lines for Cigar City, Shorts, The Bruery, Alaskan, DogFish Head, Russian River, Three Floyds, and New Belgium were all pretty long, but moved very quickly. The whole night though I don’t think anyone had as long of a line as Cigar City.  Here are my winners for the night:

Short’s – Another Caucasian Gary inspiration from The Big Lebowski and it tasted very much like a White Russian
Cigar City – Hunahpu and Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Beer
Destihl from Normal, Illinois and their Saint Dekkera Barrel reserve series.  The 3.5 year old raspberry framboise was amazing.  I can’t wait to make a trip over there and check them out.
Jackie O’s from Ohio and their Oil of Aphrodite and Kentucky Monk were outstanding
Iron Hill’s Roggenbier
Alaskan’s 2000 smoked porter
The Bruery’s Black Tuesday
Funkwerks Saison
Brugge Brasserie’s Super Kitty Fantastico

Just going off of memory, these were the standous for me....

Alaskan Smoked Porter - 2000 edition
The Bruery Black Tuesday - more for the rarity, it's good but way hot
Brugge Brasserie Diamond Kings of Heaven
Cigar City Hunahpu - tons of vanilla!
Destihl eveything sour - seriously, all of their sours are good!
Goose Island Brewpub's Alba Madonna - WHITE TRUFFLES!
Deschutes Black Butte XIII - this drinks super smooth
Elysian Dark O' The Moon - pumpkin stout from th pumpkin mastes

And here's a photo dump!

GABF Day 1 - Oskar Blues, Avery Brewing Company, Great Divide Brewing

The morning ritual in Denver during the Great American Beer Fest is a stop for Sams #3. This place is a local institution and has been featured on several prominent food shows with TV hosts that I dare not speak their name. In the high Denver altitude having a good base for a day of craft beer drinking is never more important. The effects of just even two beers in the mile high city make an incredible difference on the body. A greasy spoon before the day is a must, and Sams #3 is the base for a very successful day.

We met up with Bob Mack from World Class Beer and he graciously let us tag along with him for a day of brewery hopping before the first evening session. Our first stop was the original spot for Oskar Blues Brewing Company in Lyons, CO. I would say that most craft beer people are well acquainted with Oskar Blues. They have really made a big impact in the world of craft canned beer. They were certainly early adopters of craft can beer, and they were very successful with that model. The restaurant is set up like a tri-level house. You walk in the front door and go downstairs to the bottom bar, and then upstairs for more seating and the upstairs bar. The blues theme is always carried throughout the restaurant and the on the menu. I like when a place does unique beers just for the brewpub, and Oskar Blues didn’t disappoint. We had their Oktoberfest, Dale’s Deviant DIPA, and my personal favorite Honey Badger smoked porter. Here is what the brewery says about it:

“This nasty little ale is made with Crisp Maris Otter pale malt, Gambrinus Honey Malt, roasted barley, chocolate malt and dark crystal malt along with a heaping, meaty dose of Oskar Blues home smoked malt (no kidding; there's meat in it) and generously hopped with Columbus all the way through the boil. A huge dollop of Lyons Local Madhava Wildflower Honey at the end of the boil takes it up a notch.
Honey Badger don't care; he just drinks the s**t up. Your nose will be attacked with a plume of cherry wood while your palate is tsunamied with rich chocolatey-caramel flavors and campfire smoke. Served at locally at Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids (Longmont) and Grill & Brew (Lyons) with an OB Hops & Heifers Farm meat stick. About 6% ABV.

It was delicious. I love smoke beer, and this beer was really tasty. I am very happy to have gotten to try this one. If you haven’t seen the Honey Bader video it is worth a few minutes of your time.

Avery Brewing Company

Our next stop was in Boulder at Avery Brewing Company. Hopefully readers have had Avery beer, but they won’t be coming to Indiana anymore. They have contracted their distribution operations and have pulled out of Indiana recently. You can still find some of their bigger beers on the shelves around town though.

The first thing that struck me about Avery is their location. If you thought Three Floyd’s was in an industrial park they don’t hold a candle to what Avery has going on. Avery occupies multiple business fronts along the same line of warehousing buildings. I can’t imagine some of the logistical nightmares that happen. The bottling line and canning line for instance are not connected to the brewery, so beer has to be transported to each place for the canning and packing lines.

Avery was rocking yesterday while we were there. It was a very good time to see and hang out with so many beer lovers that were there getting oiled up before the first GABF session that night. Avery has a pretty large barrel program and they had several sours on tap in addition to several brew-pub only releases. Rod started that day with a wonderful sour called Eremita that had been aged in cabernet and zinfandel barrels. This was the type of sour that you can tell of the expertise of barrel aging and blending. Truly one of the best sours I’ve recently had. I started my day with Lilikoi Mahu. I *think* this was a Beglian Wit base with tons of passion fruit added to it. It is really hot in Denver right now, and I thought this beer was just about perfect for the day and time. I had been drinking all morning and this was refreshing, tart, and was a nice change of pace. We moved onto the barrel room and kept on having some one offs and interesting beers. We found an interesting story about how Avery is still in business. At one point they were close to bankruptcy and Adam Avery decided he was going to put out a beer that he enjoyed drinking, and he put out Hog Heaven barley wine. He thought it wouldn’t sell and put a pig flying on the label, but that was the beer that helped to resurrect the brewery into the business of today. I drank a little bit of Avery’s beers when they were in Indiana, but after my brewery visit I left feeling different about them. I hope they will return to Indiana in the future.

Great Divide

We headed back into Denver and stopped at Great Divide. Last year Great Divide didn’t have a very big tap room, but they have since expanded the tap room, and that is very much a very welcome addition to the tap room. The tap room was pouring all of their beers for very reasonable prices. All pints were $4 bucks and samples were $1 dollar. I am huge fan of their Belgo-Yeti that came out recently.

A big thanks to Bob Mack, Grant Curlow, and Bill Jackson for letting us tag along for the day.

GABF Day 0 - Trinity Brewing Co.

Matt and I arrived in Denver early Wednesday afternoon after a delayed flight. We picked up our rental car and headed immediately for Colorado Springs. Last year, Trinity Brewing out of Colorado Springs was by far the most stand-out brewery that we encountered. Their "The Flavor" cherry sour ale was unlike anything we had tasted before and was both of our festival favorites. This year, we knew that we had to add Trinity to our list of GABF festivities.

We arrived at Trinity right around 5, so it was still fairly slow. We grabbed a table near the bar and quickly dove into their GABF tap list. In addition to around 10 taps of their own house beers, around 25 additional taps hosted beers from Colorado and around the country. While the guest taps were enticing, we were here for Trinity. Trinity specializes in wild fermentation, but that doesn't necessarily mean all of their beers are sour.

I started out with a Peche Noir, a September seasonal that boasts both a dark body and light peach notes. This is, however, certainly not a stout. The Peche Noir was very light in the aroma department, only carrying hints of peach. The flavor was much lighter and refreshing than the 7% ABV would imply. The darker body was represented through coffee, roasted malt and toasted bread flavor. Peaches were very present, but the beer was not something you would describe as sweet. A great beer that represented the transition of Summer to Fall.

My second beer was the Farmhouse du Base, which was lighter in the alcohol department. The Farmhouse du Base seemed to be in the saison style, but again, a lighter summer beer with only mild tart notes. The beer quickly greeted me with the aroma of fresh green apple skins, a saison funk and a slight sensation of hay. The body was very creamy and carried a dominate granny smith apple flavor with lemon, pepper, wheat, banana and clove in the background. Not as heavy as a wheat, not as spicy as a saison, but somewhere in between.

Matt has a reputation for being very strict on his acceptance of cask conditioning practices. Flo was the current cask conditioned offering, which was an IPA. Matt launched in to an inquisition on our server before determining that the beer would be worth his time and money. And it most certainly was. I believe Matt's quote was "this is awesome." Flo was a really great, balanced India pale ale that collected a great amount of texture and complexity from the cask conditioning process executed correctly.

We met Eric and Isaac from Focus on the Beer as we were getting ready to leave, thanks to Isaac's Dark Lord shirt. They provided us a wealth of knowledge about many of the Colorado breweries that we were not familiar with and loaded up our checklist for GABF. Check out their blog at http://www.focusonthebeer.com/

Random Beer Roundup - The Denver Hopefuls Edition

This weekend, we'll be anxiously awaiting the news of who won medals in this year's GABF.  We wish all competing breweries, especially our own Indiana breweries, luck this year! 

Hoosier Beer Calendar
Events are subject to change

From the Brewers
From Bob at Flat12 Bierwerks in Indianapolis:

 Upcoming events at the Flat12 brewery include: 
Altbier tapping. Small batch. Friday, Sept 30
FlatJack Pumpkin Ale Tapping Party (Tentatively scheduled for 10/7).
Second Friday with Brian Deer and Tad Armstrong (music) 10/14
Chew on This: Indiana Humanities on Prohibition (Taste and Talk) 10/18

Taste of Germany, October 1, Firefighters Union Hall
Second Helpings Harvest Night, October 1, Second Helpings HQ
Brew Bracket (Beer Tournament), October 8, Fairgrounds
Porter Perfect Pint, October 15th, Porter, Indiana

From Roger at New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany:
Thunderfoot Bomber Release information
Thanks to LEO Readers' Choice voters for thinking of NABC

From Andrew at Ram Restaurant and Brewery in Indianapolis/Fishers:

Look out for two new seasonals coming your way with tappings at the RAM the next two Thursdays. First up All Hops go to Heaven is going to be tapped in Fishers on Thursday, October 6th at 6:30 pm. This bold American IPA showcases a prominent fruity hop flavor enhanced by the supportive malt backbone.

Next up, we will be releasing Amber Waves Farmhouse Ale at our Downtown location on Thursday, October 13th at 6 p.m. This Belgian Saison features fruity and spicy notes from the yeast balanced by a floral character from the hefty noble hop additions.

Lastly, Indy Nightlights stopped by for our Batch 1000 celebration! Check out the RAM team including Head Chef, John Rantanen, and Head Brewer, Andrew Castner, at http://www.nightlights.tv/I_15.shtm.

On Tap Now
Rhineland Kolsch
Longshanks IPA
Big Horn Oktoberfest

From Clay at Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis:

We're headed to the GABF this week! If you happen to be lucky enough to have tickets and be traveling to Denver for the event, you can find Sun King at Booth H11. We will be pouring Sunlight Cream Ale, Wee Mac Scottish Ale, Osiris Pale Ale, Grapefruit Jungle and Pappy Van Muckle (Wee Muckle aged in a 20 year old Pappy Van WInkle Barrel). 
We brewed Jungle Room Imperial IPA on Monday, which is an imperial version of Grapefruit Jungle and will be releasing it and Batch 444 sometime in October...
Cowbell Milk Porter and Oktoberfest are available in the Tasting Room and we will be releasing a very limited quantity of Grapefruit Jungle in 4-pack on Friday, September 30th.

Upcoming Events:

Great American Beer Festival
Thursday, Sept. 29 - Saturday, Oct. 1
Denver Convention Center
Sun King Booth: H11

1st Friday at the Harrison Center
Friday, October 7th  5-9 p.m.
Fresh•Local•Beer & Local Art

Trader's Point Oktoberfest
Saturday, Oct. 8th  Noon-7 p.m.
Trader's Point Creamery
Polka Boy will be playing and the Sun King Truck will be on hand pouring Fresh•Local•Beer

Big Green Bistro Brewer's Dinner at Sun King
Wednesday, October 12th  7-9:30 p.m.
4 Courses paired with Fresh•Local•Beer - $40 

Sun King Takes Over Flatwater
Thursday, October 13th - 5:00 p.m.
We'll be loading up their draft lines with all sorts of treats!

El Gallo Negro Tapping
Thursday, October 27th 6-9 p.m.
Sun King Tasting Room
Food from Big Green Bistro / Music TBA

From Ryan at Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. In Broad Ripple:

Join us this coming Tuesday October 4th for the tapping of our next seasonal beer, Antonius 1742 Oktoberfest, at Thr3e Wise Men!

Tapping Party from 6pm to 7pm.

From Mike at Triton Brewing Company in Indianapolis:
Triton Brewing is tapping it's fifth beer, Railsplitter IPA, on Oct. 6 at 6pm.

This week's guest taps:

Sun King OktoberfestHarpoon LeviathanGoose Island Pere JacquesFounders Centennial IPABell's Double Cream StoutStone Arrogant BastardRivertown HellesFounders CeriseThree Floyds Pride and Joy

From Charles at Upland Brewing Co. in Bloomingtion:
Upland’s Sour Reserve Release and Reception 
Head Brewer Caleb Staton started Upland’s sour ale program as an experiment in 2006 with only four oak barrels for aging sours. The program has grown much since then, and along the way Caleb has blended portions of his favorite batches together in a single barrel to create the live harmony of tartness, fruitiness, and layers of unique flavor that we call Sour Reserve. After years in the making, this exceptionally complex beer, possibly our finest creation yet, is finally ready for release.
Read more at http://uplandbeer.com/sour-reserve-release-and-reception/
At Bars and Restaurants
From Patrick at Patrick's Kitchen and Drinks in Zionsville:

Patrick's is currently pouring Sun King Grapefruit Jungle....People's Pils, Stone Ruination, and Flat 12 Half Cycle.
On deck we have Sun King's Oktoberfest, and are waiting on our keg of Dreadnaught....oh  yeah and the Breakfast Stout from Founder's should be delivered the first week of Oct.
From Ryan at Scotty's Brewhouse in various locations:
Enjoy a pint of our new rotating tap, Goose Island Harvest Ale, at Scotty’s Brewhouse Downtown for only $3.50 on Thursday night. 
If you are on the Northside of Indianapolis stop by the Scotty’s Brewhouse on 96th street and enjoy a pint of Flat 12 Porter for $3.50 on Thursday night.
Scotty’s Lakehouse currently is serving Sun King Grapefruit Jungle as it’s rotating tap. Grab a $9 48oz pitcher on Wednesday evenings!!
From Martin at Tavern on South in Indianapolis:
We will be hosting a Goose Island Beer Dinner on Wednesday October 5th. (Call for Details)

For Carry-out
From Jason at Tuxedo Park Brewers Supply in Fountain Square:
5th Annual Tuxedo Park Brewers Fauxtoberfest!
October 8, 2011 | 4:00pm to Midnight
This is THE annual fall customer appreciation event.  Bring your Lederhosen and St Pauli Girl outfits.  We'll have a brew competition for our shop customers, along with some samples of our custom kits and favorites, including a unique 2011 local hop Harvest Ale.  There will be food from Claus' Market and Smokehouse on Shelby and musical acts to fill the evening with folksy acoustic sounds.
Pre-order a glass on-line for this annual fall Oktoberfest ritual for $23.36 ($25 incl. tax) to obtain your custom pint glass and all the food and samples you wish.  Samples are provided. No beer will be sold at this event.  Fauxtoberfest! is held at our shop, located one block south of the fountain off the alley along at 1139 Shelby Street, Indianapolis, IN.  Check out the store location map for more directional info.

MONK Chili Bowl 2011!Time:    Saturday, November 12 · 5:00pm – 8:00pm Location:  Big Car Gallery in Fountain Square Think ahead to November. What comes to mind? There's a chill in the air, football on the tv... Now think of food. Chili. Beer. That's just about all you need. 
So let's combine them. The Chili Bowl is a club-sponsored competition to produce both, a beer with chili [peppers] in it and a chili made with THAT beer.  The results will be presented at Big Car Gallery on November 12.  The event will have limited tickets available to the public for $10...proceeds directly support future MONK activities, tastings and products.  If this sounds like you, head over theMONK facebook event page (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=227225227329688) and post a comment so the organizers will know you would like to purchase tickets – exact method of public ticketing is still TBD.

From the Distributors/Reps:
From Steve at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co:
Join Sierra Nevada's Brew Master Steve Dresler at Binkley’s on Wednesday, October 12th  to talk about his beers. The party starts at 7pm.  On tap that night will be 8 special brews from Sierra Nevada. They include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Torpedo Extra IPA, Tumbler Brown Ale, Kellerweis Hefe Weizen, Estate Homegrown Fresh Hop IPA, Northern Hemisphere Fresh Hop IPA, Ovila Saison, and our collaboration with Dogfish Head, Life and Limb (brewed with Birch & Maple syrup).  Enjoy pints of Sierra Nevada brew and talk with Brew Master Steve Dresler. Get there early, as supplies of specialty beers are limited!

Upcoming Events:

Third Indpls Liederkranz Oktoberfest

October 01, 2011
Location: Liederkranz Hall - 1417 East Washington Street, Indpls. Free parking at Indiana FOP and Ivy Tech. 
Imagine a smaller Oktoberfest inside a dry building decorated as a German Beer Hall. Band is the Original Alpine Express that has appeared at German Park, Sun King Brewery and many other area locations.  A fun evening with dancing and gemutlichkeit!
Octoberfest will be held again on the first floor in a room that resembles a German Beer Hall. No concert, but a great band, food, and bar. An RSVP helps us serve you better. Call 782-9216.
Door open at 6:00 PM
Food is served 6:00 PM 
Entertainment: 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM 
Entrance: $8 per person non-members. $4 for members
Menu: Claus' Bratwurst, Knockwurst $3.50. German Potato Salad, Sauerkraut, Green beans $1.50. Desserts $1.00. Coffee 50 cents. Draft German beer 12 oz $3.00. Pitcher $11.50. Domestic beer in cans $2 


 Brew Bracket is back!
The tournament of craft brews returns to the Indiana State Fairgrounds this fall, with an event featuring Stouts on the afternoon of Saturday, October 8th. Come join us to taste 16 different Indiana Stouts and vote for your favorites in a blind, head-to-head comparison.
Tickets are available at www.brewbracket.com ($35 participant and $7 for DD). Only 400 tickets will be sold.

28 September 2011

Beer Diary #22 - Mike - Triton, Barley Island, Perennial, and The Civil Life

The world of better beer is one in which nothing stands still. New breweries and new releases fill the calendar, making it impossible to keep things under our thumbs. Nevertheless, we soldier on, knowing that it's the journey, not the finish, that keeps us coming back.

Well it sounds noble, anyway.

18 September 11
Location: Triton Brewing Company, 5764 Wheeler Road, Indianapolis

Triton began operations a couple weeks ago, and have been bringing on their new offerings in quick succession even since. We stopped in on a Sunday afternoon to sample their Fieldhouse Wheat, which was the only house beer available at the time. (They've since added their Magnificent Amber, Four Barrel Brown, and Deadeye Stout to the lineup.)

Triton'S Fieldhouse Wheat is an Amarillo-hopped wheat beer, balanced, with medium body and a citrus hop flavor. It's bigger than your standard wheat beer, but not quite gumballhead either. Oftentimes, the first beer out of a new brewery shows flaws - not the case here. A really nice introduction to Triton.

And the space looks awesome.

18 September 11
Location: Barley Island, Noblesville

We had to return a used HBG5 keg to Barley Island, so a trip up north made sense. What we found inside was Barley Island's Barrel Fermented Rust Belt Porter on cask. A beautiful bourbon nose, brown sugar and molasses, flat cask front, then vanilla - not a lot of wood comes through, just balanced bourbon flavor. Very nice.

Part of the fun of HBG is taking photos of people who don't want their picture taken.

20 September 11
Location: Tomlinson Tap Room, Indianapolis City Market

As part of their first anniversary, local coffeehouse Bjava Coffee and Tea has worked with a number of brewers around the city to put together a series of coffee-flavored beers. An excellent idea!

Flat12 Bjava Blond - This is a straight up coffee flavored coffee beer, almost just a cold cup of coffee. Really nice coffee with cream nose - strong on the coffee, golden lemony color, cloudy body. Roasty from the coffee, not from the beer, leans more towards the blacker side of coffee.

If you really dig coffee, this might be the beer for you.

20 September 11
Location: La Revolucion, Fountain Square

I was in need of tacos. Rumor had it that Revolucion's veggie tacos were excellent. I decided to investigate.

Tacos need beer. Rogue Dead Guy - the first hbg review? No, the tenth. Nevertheless, there's something about a Dead Guy in Fountain Square.

This one is domestic light lager colored, sweet malty nose, surprisingly deep in flavor - expected less from the nose. Earthy on front, then an explosion of sweetness in the finish. Grassy earthy. The quicker you drink it, the less fruity comes through though, so it seems like maybe the palate needs time to reset in there, somewhere.

16 September 11
Location: Perennial Artisan Ales, 8125 South Michigan, St. Louis, MO

As one of the benefits of running a slightly successful beer blog, we've met many folks, amongst them the large crew that regularly associates with STLHops.com's Mike Sweeney. Some of them, like former Itap/Lohr Distributing manager Cory King, even help run breweries.

Perennial is a recently opened example. Situated in a warehouse turned apartment and brewery space, the brewery plans to focus on "production of farmhouse ales, seasonal styles, and cellaring varieties that are intended to improve with age."

We're always up for a different approach, so we stopped in to check it out.

Southside blonde - straight-ahead belgian blonde, reminiscent of barley island's sheetmetal blonde.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart - big strawberry out front on the nose - smells like strawberry chapstick. Sippin' in, definitely bringing out the rhubarb. Interesting.

Hommel Bier - star of the show, hints of citrus, chewy, the hops really shine through - super drinkable.

Each of these beers are very early in their lifecycle - I'm excited by the approach, and will be back to Perennial in the future.

17 September 11
Location: The Civil Life Brewing Company, 3714 Holt Ave, St. Louis, Mo 63116
Website Highly Recommended. Like this page.

This was a brewery opening. An anxious crowd gathered about a mile from the brewery location, where we we treated to a re-purposed beer-influenced Gettysburg Address before the parade started.

Yep, a parade.

We walked a block and were given a beer. The crowd continued to grow. We continued to walk. We were given another beer. We turned a corner - now just a block away from the brewery - and were greeted by a band of bagpipers. They lead us down the street to the brewery, where a pirate climbed onto the roof and raised a pirate flag.


This is Carl on the second story balcony/seating area.

The Civil Life aims to be a neighborhood brewery in a neighborhood in need of one. Brewing sessionable beers, I expect them to do very well. The space was beautiful. The beer was tasty. We left happy.