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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!

No fizzy yellow beer here: A visit to Stone Brewing in California

May 24, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Travelin'

Mike and Stone Greg

I’ve been to a lot of breweries, big and small, but Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, Calif., may be the swankiest brewery of them all. The brewery features the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, which includes a 300+ seat restaurant, open-air patio, one-acre organic beer garden and company store.

And by sheer luck, I happened to show up at Stone on the day of the book release of “The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.,” a behind-the-scenes look at the history of Stone Brewing, with recipes from the bistro and never-before released homebrew recipes for Stone beers.

As a result, I got to meet Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, co-founders of Stone Brewing Co., and Randy Clemens, public relations coordinator at Stone, who are co-authors of the book. (That’s me and Greg pictured up top.)

And that’s not all! I happened to show up at Stone for a special tasting of the excellent 2010 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, which was aged in bourbon barrels. Later, on a tour of the brewery, I also got to sample Stone Pale Ale, Stone Smoked Porter, Stone India Pale Ale and Arrogant Bastard Ale. It’s hard to beat fresh Stone beer on tap.

Stone - tabletStone was founded in 1996 in San Marcos, Calif. The first keg of Stone Pale Ale was sold on July 26, 1996, to Vince Marsaglia of Pizza Port fame.

Stone - bottles & grainsThe tour at Stone started with everything you need to make beer!

Stone- tour guideOur tour guide’s sage advice: “If you’re worried about calories, ride your bike to the liquor store.”

Stone - Long view of tanksStone projects that it will produce 180,000 barrels of beer in 2012.

Stone - tanksThe brewery is among the fastest-growing in America over the past 15 years, averaging 43% year-to-year growth in that period.

Stone - bottling lineStone’s bottling line can produce 20 cases per minute.

Stone - Cases of Stone IPAStone IPA, along with Stone Pale Ale, are Stone’s flagship beers.

Stone- WussiesStone is known for brewing beers with “big character.” They are not for wussies.

Stone - restaurantStone’s restaurant, which seats 385, has 32 craft and specialty beers on tap, plus more than 100 bottles, as well as an extensive wine list.

Stone - GargoyleA gargoyle is the mascot for Stone Brewing Company and appears on Stone’s labels, which are some of the coolest labels around.

•••

So it’s been eight months since my visit to Stone Brewing Co. in the San Diego area, and I’m just now getting around to posting these photos from the trip. And guess what? I’m headed back to San Diego very soon. So before I head that way again, please leave a comment below and tell me what breweries and brewpubs I need to check out in San Diego.

Beers from Stone, Yazoo and Ghost River to be served at Brew Movement on Thursday

March 12, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Events, Homebrew, Memphis

The brewery list is out for the 3rd annual Brew Movement, and the highlights include beers from Stone Brewing Co., Yazoo Brewing Co. and Ghost River Brewing.

The beer tasting event, which benefits the Mid South Chapter of the National MS Society, is Thursday, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., at the Chickasaw Oaks Village shopping center in East Memphis.

In addition to Stone, Yazoo and Ghost River, beers will be served from Boscos, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Red Brick Brewing, Saranac and Woodchuck. On the sweeter side, there will be Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and Lindemnan’s Framboise Raspberry Lambic for “chocolate truffles” and beer floats.

There will also be plenty of homebrew from the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs and the Memphis Brewer’s Association.

The Bluff City Brewers are bringing a Black Lager, Cask-conditioned Bitter, Irish Red, Irish Stout, Orange Dreamsicle and Prohibition Ale. The Brewer’s Association guys will bring an Altbier, American Brown (one batch with American Ale yeast and one with London ESB yeast), American Pale Ale, Rosemary Pale Ale, Piggy Porter (bacon porter) and a Scottish Ale.

The event will feature hors d’oeuvres from Just for Lunch and Ciao Bella. There will also be live music, door prizes and a silent auction.

Tickets, which cost $25, are still available online or in person at Midsouth Malts, 741 N. White Station.

To see photos and a recap of last year’s event from FuzzyBrew, go here

Brew Movement for MS poster

Tennessee Cigar & Brew Fest coming to Jackson on Oct. 29

September 19, 2011 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Events

Tennessee Cigar & Brew FestTickets are on sale for the third annual Tennessee Cigar and Brew Festival, which will feature craft beer, homebrew and cigars next month in Jackson.

The festival will be at the Jackson Fairgrounds on October 29 from noon to 4 p.m.

Beer from Memphis’ Ghost River Brewing and Nashville’s Yazoo Brewing Company will be served alongside beer from Stone Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Dogfish Head, Victory Brewing Company and others.

Homebrew will be on tap as well, with beers from Memphis’ homebrew club, the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs, and Belgian beers from Hack’s Whacked Homebrew.

Tickets can be purchased online now for $20.