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TN at GABF: Wiseacre, Yazoo, McHale’s win medals at 2014 Great American Beer Festival

October 04, 2014 By: mike Category: Breweries, Competition, Craft beer, Events, Memphis

Three Tennessee craft breweries — Memphis’ Wiseacre Brewing Company, Nashville’s Yazoo Brewing Company  and Chattanooga’s McHale’s Brewhouse — won medals today at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Wiseacre Tiny BombThe festival, in its 28th year, is the largest commercial beer competition in the world. A total of 234 different breweries won either gold, silver or bronze medals in 90 beer categories covering 145 different beer styles.

Wiseacre won a bronze medal for its Tiny Bomb in the German-Style Pilsener category (75 entries). This was Wiseacre’s first year to compete at GABF.

Brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch opened Wiseacre on Broad Avenue in 2013. Tiny Bomb, available on draft and in cans in the Memphis area, is one of the brewery’s two year-round beers, along with Ananda IPA.

“It’s great to be recognized for something that you have worked so hard on for so long, especially by my peers, the greatest beer judges in the world. Pilsner is among the most difficult styles of beer to produce and we are glad to be honored in this way. I almost cried,” brewmaster Davin Bartosch said in a press release.

Added Kellan Bartosch: “With Firestone and Russian River being the other medalist in the category as two of the most highly acclaimed breweries in the country, it says a lot about the internal admiration for Pilsner among brewers. Craft beer drinkers often stick to mega hoppy IPAs or big stouts, but external appreciation for tasty lower ABV beers is on the rise and Tiny Bomb made here in Memphis can now be considered a leader of the pack on a national scale.”

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Bronze medal for Tiny Bomb #gabf

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Meanwhile, Yazoo captured the bronze medal in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category (65 entries) for its Cherry Deux Rouges, part of the Nashville brewery’s Embrace the Funk series. The medal is Yazoo’s fourth overall, having won twice for its Hefeweizen and once for Sue.

The final Tennessee winner was Chattanooga’s McHale’s Brewhouse, which won a gold medal for its Scottish Pride beer in the Scottish-Style Ale category (51 entries). It’s the first GABF win for McHale’s Brewhouse.

A huge congrats to all the Tennessee winners!

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visits the Great American Beer Festival [video]

October 23, 2013 By: mike Category: Funny, Video

As Conan O’Brien’s website put it, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog went to the Great American Beer Festival “to see beer snobs in their natural habitat.”

Hilarity ensues.

GABF recap: Three days of beer, beer and more beer in Denver

November 07, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Events, Travelin'

GABF - sign

The 2012 Great American Beer Festival drew 49,000 attendees to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on Oct. 10-12.

The festival is the largest commercial beer competition in the world, and for craft beer enthusiasts, it’s heaven.

I was able to go as an entrant in the 2012 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition, thanks to Ghost River Brewing and the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs homebrew club. I had a brewer’s pass and was able to go all three days.

At the festival, I tried as many beers as possible, but ultimately one can only sample of fraction of what’s on tap. More than 2,700 beers were served by 578 breweries in the festival hall.

Among my new favorites: Alpine Beer Co.’s Duet, a West Coast IPA; Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s Wookey Jack, an American-Style Black Ale; Redrock Brewing Co.’s Redrock Organic Zwickel Bier; and Laurelwood Brewing Co.’s Organic Deranger Imperial Red Ale.

GABF - sample glassThe sample glasses at GABF have a line showing the 1-ounce mark. The festival is fairly strict about pouring just an ounce, but the pours did get more liberal as the festival went on.

GABF - PBR outfitsAt GABF, you can’t bring in food unless you are wearing it, so you see a lot of people with homemade pretzel necklaces. There were also people wearing bagels, Funyuns and even bags of beef jerky!

GABF - Triple RockThe layout in the festival hall is divided up by region. I spent a lot of time hitting up the California breweries, including one of my favorites, Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse.

GABF - Charlie PapazianOne of the highlights for me? Getting to meet Charlie Papazian, who founded the Association of Brewers and the Great American Beer Festival and wrote The Complete Joy of Home Brewing.

GABF - 21st AmendmentBeers from San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery, which is known for its cans and sweet designs, were pretty popular at GABF.

GABF - Silent DiscoI’ve spent some time in the Silent Disco at Bonnaroo, so I skipped it at GABF. But there was always a long line to get in. The concept is this: it’s a disco where people dance to music via wireless headphones. Fun to watch from the outside.

GABF - IdiotsHe’s with the idiot.

GABF - massageThe Designated Driver Lounge offered DDs free chair massages and the opportunity to taste craft-brewed sodas and root beers.

GABF - StoneSan Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. didn’t win any medals for its beers. But the brewery’s booth,  a popular destination at the festival, won the GABF Festival Flair Award for its awesome design.

GABF - Wall of T-shirtsOne of the cooler sites at GABF — the 30-foot wall of T-shirts for sale. I picked up shirts from New Belgium Brewing and Boulder Beer.

GABF - booksThe Beer Enthusiast Bookstore had a nice selection of homebrewing books and featured a full slate of book signings all three days, including authors Charlie Papazian, Garrett Oliver, John Palmer, Ray Daniels and Greg Koch.

GABF - Porter's PridePorter’s Pride, an imperial porter with chocolate, was brewed as part of a collaboration of Colorado breweries exclusively for the GABF awards ceremony.

GABF - governorColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, one of the founders of the original Wynkoop Brewing Company brewpub, spoke at the awards ceremony.

GABF-First AmendmentI met up with a monkey in a spacesuit and Abraham Lincoln, who were representing 21st Amendment.

GABF - Woo Hoo!Woo hoo! Hope to make it back to GABF soon!

2012 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition winners (and a gripe)

October 26, 2012 By: mike Category: Competition, Events, Homebrew, Memphis, Travelin'

Mike at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am

For homebrewers, one of the highlights of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver is the Pro-Am Competition.

Homebrewers from across the U.S. who are members of the American Homebrewers Association team up with professional brewers and scale up homebrew recipes on professional brewing systems. In its seventh year, the 2012 competition earlier this month saw a record number of entries, with 94 different beers. All the beers were served over the three days at GABF, and many of the homebrews were really fantastic.

I was lucky enough to enter this year’s competition with Memphis’ Ghost River Brewing, and my Red Hop Ale was served on the first night of the festival. (Click here to read all about my awesome brew day at Ghost River’s sister brewery, Boscos Squared.)

And while that’s me in the photo above with the pitcher, I didn’t actually get to serve my beer at GABF. The photo, sadly, was staged before the doors opened. Only volunteers were allowed to serve beers at the homebrew booth, a policy I really don’t understand. I was told by the Pro-Am organizer that the presence of homebrewers serving their beers somehow overshadowed the other beers at the booth whose brewer could not make it to Denver — a  really lame excuse. I was told I could stand in front of the booth, if I really wanted to.

One of the main reasons I like brewing for festivals is the opportunity to get immediate feedback — good and bad — from folks who try my beer. And what better setting to get feedback from beer lovers than the Great American Beer Festival? Making it all the way to Denver and being told I couldn’t serve my beer was a real disappointment. Brewers from professional breweries are encouraged to staff their booths and pour beer at the festival, and I hope the Pro-Am organizers re-think this policy for the Pro-Am booth. Homebrewers stand to learn a lot from those brief interactions with beer drinkers.

Anyway, I was thrilled to be at the festival. And to the winners below, cheers!

Gold: More Fun Blonde, New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo.

Brewmaster: New Belgium Brewing Co., AHA Member: Jay Shambo

Silver: Pointon’s Proper – An English Mild, RAM Restaurant and Brewery – Wheeling, Ill.
Brewmaster: Lanny Fetzer, AHA Member: Scott Pointon

Bronze: Classic American Pilsner, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, Minn.
Brewmaster: Mike Hoops, AHA Member: Kyle Sisco