So, we have this wee little festival to celebrate beer here in Denver, called the Great American Beer Festival. You may have heard of it? It’s the biggest beer festival in the entire United States. After two years of missing out, Mr. Kitchenette scored us some tickets to the festivities this year. I was mildly terrified of attending, because let’s face it, I tend to be more of a let’s-stay-home-and-watch-movies-and-go-to-bed-at-10-pm type of person. I mean, it was sure to be filled with crazy, drunk, frat boys with popped collars slobbering all over each other. Not my idea of a good time.
… I conceed. It. Was. Awesome.
I mean, yes – there were lots of crazy, drunk people – but they weren’t all frat boys. I didn’t realize until I got there that the promise of unlimited beer in a 4 hour period appeals to much more than just the average frat boy. The conference hall was filled with people, mashed shoulder-to-shoulder near the beer servers. Essentially, there are long rows of tables, behind which stand volunteers that will serve you a 1-ounce tasting of any beer you like. And you get a sweet little plastic beer glass to keep. And everytime your beer consumption overtakes your motor skillz, and you drop your little plastic beer glass on the concrete floor, you’re met with a resounding “OHHHHHHHHH!” from the crowd around you. You know, just in case you weren’t embarrassed enough. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be too embarrassed, as the guy next to you will probably drop his little plastic beer glass in the next 5 minutes, therefore stealing the attention away from your clumsiness.
This drunk dude was wearing footie pajamas with the PBR logo all over
If you love beer – nay, if you even like beer – you should definitely go to GABF at least once in your life. I’m not a huge beer drinker (although Mr. Kitchenette is – we have a pony keg of Heineken in our fridge right now) I thought this would be an extraordinary opportunity to taste a bunch of beers, and hopefully, find a few more that I could stomach.
So, while Mr. Kitchenette and his friend Piper tried all the “dude beers,” as I will henceforth refer to them, Jenny (my GABF partner-in-crime) and I conducted our own taste tests. I quickly realized that I couldn’t remember all of the great beers I was tasting, soooo… enter the Crackberry. I most definitely kept a list of all the beers we liked.
Behold, The Greatest Beers of GABF (Kitchenette-style):
- BJ’s Belgian Nit Wit – a Belgian witbier
- Full Sail Black Gold Bourbon Stout – a really dark beer, that I would never dream of actually drinking… I just really wanted to make a chocolate cake with it.
- Pelican Pub & Brewery Surfer’s Summer Ale
- Ohio Brewing Company Verich Gold – German kolsch-style beer
- Surly Brewing Company Coffee Bender – a beer with a light hint of coffee; again, I just really wanted to cook something with this! Any ideas?
- Upland Brewing Company Wheat Ale – delicious wheat beer
- Water Street Brewery Raspberry Weiss – a light weissbier with raspberries; the Ultimate Girly Brew
- Rockyard Brewing Company Wildcat White Ale
- Red Rock Brewing Company Black Bier
- Rocky Mountain Brewery Raspberry Cider – a raspberry hard cider, very sweet but would make a great sauce over fruit or cake
- Capitol City Brewing Company Honey Lager – not sweet like you would think, but just really delicious overall
- Capitol City Brewing Company Fuel - a coffee stout
- Heartland Brewery Summertime Apricot Ale – a light beer with a hint of apricots
- Shipyard Brewing Company Pumpkinhead Ale – pumpkin-flavored wheat ale
- Marble Brewery Wildflower Wheat – a wheat beer
- Triple 7 Brewpub Black Cherry Stout – a dark stout with a hint of cherry
As you can see, I definitely lean toward wheat beers and witbiers/weissbiers, as well as the crazy fruit-flavored girly beers. I can’t help it.
Speaking of the Crackberry, one dude actually saw me quickly write down which beer I liked and our conversation went like this:
Drunk Dude: Whatcha doin’?
Me: Just keeping a list of the beers that I like.
Drunk Dude: Dude, that’s so… anal retentive.
Yes, but will he be able to remember all the delicious beers he tried? I don’t think so.
As I mentioned before, the GABF is a 4-hour shift in which you can try any of the 2100 beers, as many times as you like. There is food offered in the conference hall, but it’s overpriced and not very tasty. So most people have developed a system for having something on hand to eat during GABF, just so you don’t get too drizzunk during the 4 hours of debauchery. Enter the pretzel necklace.
I get it: pretzels and beer. Essentially you get some string (or ribbon, or whatever) and string a bunch of pretzels onto the string and tie it around your neck. Many people go with the traditional small pretzels for snacking, and a few I saw were working the sourdough necklace as well. Even more people string other foods onto their necklaces as well; I saw Fruit Loops and Cheerios, although pretzels tend to be the most traditional fashion choice. The best necklace I saw was the girl (see picture at beginning of post) wearing a necklace strung with pretzels and – I kid you not – string cheese, and tiny chocolate donuts. I had to take a picture to commemorate the Awesomeness.
An unexpected bonus of GABF: a lot of people go in groups, and make it into a big event. Just like when your family went to Disney World in 5th grade, here you get matching t-shirts as well. Only at GABF, your t-shirts are likely to reference either sex, alcoholism, or both. Case in point:
“My wife thinks I’m at Promise Keepers“
And my personal favorite…
I know… I can’t believe he wore that either.
Thus concludes this year’s adventures at the Great American Beer Festival. I’m already designing my pretzel necklace for 2010.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Playing in the Kitchenette: The Avett Brothers / Die Die Die - I saw this on sale at Starbucks and I died a little inside. At least whoever works at Corporate Starbucks has good taste in music… *sigh*.