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Pints in Pictures

We’ve Moved!!! Go To Brewtallyinsane.com And See What You’re Missing.

If you’re reading this, then you’re on our “old” site.  We’ve found a new home and relaunched our site.  Please update your bookmarks and point your browsers over to our new site, http://brewtallyinsane.com   Come on, what are you waiting for?

Cheers!


Big Beers Abound At The 11th Annual Avery Strong Ale Fest

The 11th Annual Strong Ale Fest has come and gone.  Our hosts at Avery Brewing had to reconfigure a bit in order to accommodate this years event.  As they continue to push their facility to the limits and fill every nook and cranny in their building with beer, they’re just flat-out running out of space.  Until their new facility is ready next year, they’ll just have to keep thinking of creative ways to make it work.  Thankfully, this past weekend, they still managed to find enough room for a few hundred of their closest beer lovin’ friends to sip, sample and share 100+ high ABV brews.

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The tasting room was slammed as usual, pouring the first 20 beers on the menu.  Samples from Allagash, Asher, Avery, Boulevard and others were ready and waiting for attendees as they walked through the door.
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The menu seems to get a little longer each year.  105 beers were on tap this time around and with only 16 tasting tickets, some tough decisions had to be made.

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The Barrel Room was reduced from a wall of roughly 40 taps, down to only 10.  Personally, I thought this was a great improvement, as it allowed for several tables and chairs to be placed in the barrel room and gave attendees additional space to spread out and talk.

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Side note – The barrel room was lined with barrels full of Uncle Jacob’s stout.  This is a phenomenal Imperial Stout that will hopefully be released again later this year.

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The back of the barrel room opened up to a pair of massive tents, where the remaining 75 beers were flowing.  Except for the BA Ten FIDY, which sadly, none of the staff or volunteers could coax out of the keg.  So close, yet so far…

In addition, there was a tent out front, next to the patio area, which seemed to be a well-kept secret during Friday’s session.  Plenty of tables, chairs and even a heater were inside to keep the crowd happy and allow for a little more room to spread out.

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As expected, Russian River’s Pliny the Younger was a hot commodity and the usual suspects were proudly pouring this highly coveted brew.  Gang signs and all.

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Everybody has their own take on live music, but we enjoyed it.  This little trio rocked it with their covers of Zeppelin, Neil Young, Phish, etc…

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With so many great beers on the menu, it’s a little silly to try to pick a “Best of Show” beer, but here are a few that really stood out for us.  Pizza Port’s Barrel Aged Knight Rider, is an Imperial Stout that spent 9 months in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels.  A great beer that we recently had during our trip to Pizza Port last month.  Pizza Port also impressed with their Poorman’s IPA.  Poorman’s took Gold last year at the World Beer Cup.

Avery’s Tweak is a coffee infused version of their 16% Mephistopheles Imperial Stout.  Formerly known as Meph Addict, this beer NEEDS to be bottled.  You hear me Adam Avery?  Bottle this beast. Pretty please???

We also really enjoyed Wynkoop’s Barleywine, known as The Chancellor.  It’s just a well made beer that could easily stand its’ ground against some of the top examples in the style.
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Although we didn’t attend on Saturday, we did catch a few bits and pieces from the Colorado Craft Beer Show and American Craft Beer Radio, both of whom were broadcasting live from the festival.  If you missed out, be sure to look for the podcasts, which should go up in a few days.

Strong Ale always makes our list of “must-do” beer fests and this year was a great time as always.  Hats off to the Avery Crew for another fantastic event and for all of the breweries for sharing their wonderful beers.

Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. Part 6 – Mission Brewery

Our final stop during our San Diego brew adventure was at Mission Brewery.  Mission has a long history of brewing in San Diego, dating all the way back to 1913.  The brewery closed their doors in 1918, but the name was revived in 2007, when owner / founder Dan Selis launched a new line of Mission beers.  In 2011, Selis moved his brewery from Chula Vista to its current location in a former Wonder Bread bakery in downtown San Diego.

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The 14,000 square foot brick building dates back to 1834 and lends a beautiful setting for the brewhouse, tasting room and bottling line.  Mission is conveniently located in downtown San Diego, next to Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres) and only minutes from San Diego International Airport, making it the perfect beginning or end point for your brew trip.

Inside, local history gets a modern upgrade, as the 150+ year old building and its’ metal chandeliers, combine with the shiny stainless steel brewhouse and black leather barstools.  It strikes a pleasant balance for beer lovers competing amongst one another on the shuffleboard table or while sitting at the bar watching the local sports teams on TV.

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Mission makes 4 year-round beers in 12 oz. bottles: Amber, Hefeweizen, Blonde and an IPA, which took a Bronze medal at the 2007 GABF.  Their big beer lineup consists of a 9.25% ABV West Coast Double IPA called Shipwrecked and a 10% ABV Russian Imperial Stout called Dark Seas, both of which are available in 12 oz. and 22 oz. bottles.  In addition to Mission’s lineup of bottled brews, they also offer a variety of draft only and seasonals releases ranging from a Dunkelweizen to a Coconut Brown Ale to an Imperial Red Ale and more.

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Last month, we spoke with Mission’s National Sales Manager, Martin Saylor, at Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines in Vail.  He mentioned that Mission is looking to bring bottles to the Colorado market in the near future.  Beer hunters, keep your eyes peeled, as our first shipment from Mission should be heading our way in about 4 weeks!  Mrs. Insane and I can’t wait to have some Shipwrecked Double IPA in our fridge.

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Mission Brewery is located at: 1441 L St, San Diego, CA 92101.  619-544-0555.

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Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. Part 5 – AleSmith Brewing Company

When I hear the term “Big Beer” in Colorado, I immediately think of Avery Brewing and Great Divide Brewing.  Both have a vast selection of big beers ranging from 8%+ ABV Imperial Stouts, Double IPA’s, Barleywines and so on.  When I hear the term “Big Beer” in reference to Southern California, I think of San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing.  AleSmith has been serving up tasty brews since 1995 and over time, they’ve grown their line to include a variety of fantastic, high ABV beers.

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AleSmith might be best known for their popular Speedway Stout, which is a 12% ABV Imperial Stout brewed with coffee.  Speedway Stout is full of chocolate, coffee and roasted malt flavors.  The thick, creamy mouthfeel lingers and leaves you wanting more.  Speedway variations spring up from time-to-time in the tasting room.  Past experiments have included batches brewed with dried sour cherries, mint chocolate and peanut butter & cacao nibs.  Wow!  Send some to Colorado.  Please??

Old Numbskull Barleywine is an American-style Barleywine that weighs in at 11% ABV.  If you’re not a fan of the big hop flavors found in fresh batches, tuck some away in the back of your cellar for a few years.  The caramel and malt notes that come through once the hops fade after a year or more are divine.  Fresh, aged, both, whatever, it’s a great take on the style.

Scotch Ale fans never seem to have very many options.  That poor beer just doesn’t get enough respect in my opinion.  Luckily, AleSmith gives the style its’ due with their Wee Heavy.  The 10% ABV Wee Heavy is a sweet, smokey, lightly hopped traditional Scotch Ale.

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The Grand Cru might be the most complex beer in their year-round big beer lineup.  This one is a 10.5% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale that is brewed with dark Belgian candi sugar and fermented with authentic Belgian trappist yeast.  The dark brown brew has flavors of dark fruit, vanilla, brown sugar and caramel.

Don’t forget the Grand Cru’s little brother, known as Horny Devil.  This bad boy is an 11% ABV Belgian Strong Pale Ale.  Like the Grand Cru, the Devil is also brewed with Belgian trappist yeast, but uses a lighter Belgian candi sugar and coriander seeds in the brewing process.  The result is a beautiful golden beer with citrus, bread and spice notes.

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AleSmith has a small barrel-aging project and many of the barrel-aged releases are only available on draft in the tasting room.  They occasionally release 750mL bottles of their Barrel-Aged big beers like Speedway Stout and Old Numbskull, which are only available during release parties at the brewery. Take note beer traders, I highly recommend seeking these bad boys out.

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While the big beers tend to take center stage, don’t ignore the smaller, more sessionable brews like their IPA, Anvil ESB and X Pale Ale or their great seasonals like YuleSmith, My Bloody Valentine or Decadence (their Anniversary beer which is a different style every year).

DSC_0843AleSmith reps at GABF said they’re looking at entering the CO market in the near future.  Cross your fingers folks, because AleSmith would be a great addition to the CO beer scene.

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Drop by the tasting room on your next trip out west to see what they’re all about and grab some bottles to bring back for your cellar.  You’re gonna love ’em!

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AleSmith Brewing is located at: 9368 Cabot Dr, San Diego, CA 92126.  858-549-9888

Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. Part 4 – Pizza Port

No beer trippin’ report in San Diego would be complete without a visit to at least one of the Pizza Port locations.  The original Pizza Port was founded in Solana Beach in 1987, by owners Vince and Gina Marsaglia.  Vince began using the restaurant’s extra space to experiment with homebrewing.   5 years later in 1992, a 7 BBL brewhouse was installed and the brewery was born.  In 1997, Tomme Arthur took the reigns in the brewhouse and the rest is history.

Since then, Pizza Port has grown to 4 locations (with 1 more on the way), opened a bottle shop in Carlsbad (offering 600+ of the best beers available in the San Diego area), named 2003 and 2004 Small Brewpub of the Year at GABF (Solana Beach) and 2009 Large Brewpub of the Year at GABF (Carlsbad) and opened a production facility in San Marcos, CA.  The brewpubs have also taken home numerous GABF and World Beer Cup medals.  Tomme Arthur has since moved on to become Director of Brewery Operations at Port Brewing and co-founded the The Lost Abbey line of Belgian influenced beers in 2006.

Each Pizza Port location offers a wide variety of beers brewed on-site, plus a lineup of guest taps from some of the world’s top craft breweries.  The great selection of beers, ranging from west coast hop bombs to authentic Belgian ales, is sure to satisfy even the most hardcore beer nerd.  If you can’t decide which location to visit, let the beer do the talking.  The Pizza Port website has a webcam feed showing all of the beers pouring at each location.

The close proximity to the beach and the laid back vibe, combined with a tasty menu and a ton of great beers, makes Pizza Port one of our favorite places to visit in the San Diego area.  Pizza Port shows no signs of slowing down, as they’re currently working on a new location in Bressi Ranch (near Carlsbad).  I guess we’ll have to add it to the list for next time.

On this trip, we only had the time to visit Pizza Port Carlsbad, but we’ve visited the other locations in the past and encourage you to try them all.  Here’s a handful of pictures from our recent visit.

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Cheers!


The Inaugural San Diego Winter Brew Fest

The team behind the annual Winter and Summer Brew Fests in Denver, known as RightOn Productions, has decided to take their beer, food and fun fests on the road.  Last weekend, they brought the Inaugural Winter Brew Fest to Broadway Pier in lovely San Diego, CA.

Lucky for us, we got invited to come out and cover the event.  Trust me, we didn’t need much convincing.  We LOVE a good brew fest and we love San Diego.  Yep, count us in!

The event was held at the Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier, which is a modern, environmentally friendly Cruise ship terminal.  Port Pavilion is easily accessible by car, bus and train and offers scenic views of the USS Midway and San Diego Bay.

The San Diego beer scene is on fire right now, with more than 63 breweries in operation and 32 more in various stages of planning.  The San Diego beer scene is almost as exciting as the current Denver beer scene.  The inaugural festival gave us the opportunity to try beers from some of the local up and coming breweries such as Iron Fist and Manzanita, but we were just as excited to revisit old favorites from our friends at Mission and Ballast Point.

The food trucks parked outside along the bay were no joke either.  They had prepared beer-centric menus just for the brew-minded crowd.  We couldn’t get enough from the guys at Underdogs, who were serving up some mean sausage creations.  I went with the “Mac Daddy”, which was a Stone Porter Sausage, topped with macaroni and cheese and bacon.  Oh delish.  The cheese sauce on top was made with a Saison from Iron First Brewing.

Inside the pier, the crowd sipped on beer, nibbled on Cabot cheese and grooved to the sounds of local bands.  All in all, a great time and another well run festival from the RightOn crew.  No word yet on whether they plan to expand the event to include a San Diego Summer Brew Fest.  We can only hope.

Until next time, check out some of the sights from the San Diego Winter Brew Fest.

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To see more highlights from our San Diego adventure, visit the Beer Trippin’ portion of our site.

Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. Part 3 – Green Flash Brewing

After two great stops at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and Port / The Lost Abbey, it was time to start heading South towards San Diego.  So for our last stop of the day, we decided to visit Green Flash Brewing.  This place caught me completely off guard.  From the outside, Green Flash looks like a place where they should be programming satellites or making sketches for the next hybrid car.  Not your average looking brewery by any means.

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While we were scratching our heads on the way in, we slipped through the glass door and made our way down a long hallway lined with beer posters.  The hallway eventually led us to a tasting room surrounded by a large brewery, bottling line and pallets and pallets of beer.  Oh glorious beer!  It was clear we were in the right place.

We happened to hit Green Flash while they were pouring all 10 of their Anniversary Ales.  The brewery releases a different style one-off each year to commemorate the special occasion.  Past releases have included Barleywines, Strong Ales, Double IPA’s, Imperial Stouts and most recently a Flanders Red.  The prices were stupid good at just $1 for a taster and $4 for a full pour.

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In addition to their anniversary collection, there was also a variety of beers to sample from their year-round lineup, seasonals and special one-offs just for visitors to the tasting room.  Palate Wrecker Double IPA is a favorite of mine and I rarely pass up the opportunity to try a splash of this west coast hop bomb.  Luckily for me, a fresh keg was on tap.

The 9-year old Barleywine was tough to beat too.  I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a beer that was nearly a decade old and this was my second one in under 4 hours.  (Stone was also pouring beers going back to ’03!)  I think I need to “beer trip” through CA more often.

Visitors can make a day of sampling the more than two dozen offerings in the tasting room.  On brewing and bottling days, guests have the perfect vantage point to watch the Green Flash team go to work.  The small beer garden on the side of the building is a nice little hangout and a great chance to try some of the local food trucks.

While Green Flash may look a little different on the outside, Mama always said it’s what’s on the inside that counts.  And on the inside of Green Flash, is great beer.  Seriously tasty, great beer and that’s what really matters.

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Green Flash Brewing is located at: 6550 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92121.  858-622-0085

Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. Part 2 – Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey

Just a short drive from our first stop at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, is Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, CA.  Although only separated by a few miles, the two breweries feel like they’re worlds apart.  Unlike Stone, you won’t find any zen gardens, koi ponds or fancy restaurant here.  Instead, you’ll find a tasting room that’s situated right next to a buzzing brewery and a row of bubbling fermenters.  Here you can choose from an assortment of beers that range from hop-forward American ales to Barrel-Aged wild ales and Belgian-style masterpieces.

Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey is situated at the original location where Stone was founded back in 1996.  The Port / LA crew bought the building in 2005, when Stone moved to their current location down the road in Escondido.  Stone’s original brewhouse (pictured below), is still being used today by Port / LA.

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The Lost Abbey portfolio consists of more than a dozen Belgian-influenced masterpieces, ranging from Saisons to Quads to Wild Ales.  Sour fans can’t seem to get enough of Tomme Arthur’s Barrel-Aged goodies like Red Poppy, Framboise de Amorosa and Cuvee de Tomme.

In 2007, the brewery founded a beer club that shipped beer directly to member’s homes.  Popularity grew very quickly and it was later split into two clubs.  The Patron Saints club offered the year-round LA lineup, while the Patron Sinners club offered a variety of seasonals, one-offs and rarities like Duck, Duck Gooze and Isabelle Proximus.  Sadly, these clubs were shut down in 2011, in order for the brewery to better focus on expanding distribution and in order to ease the stress the club placed on the brewery staff.

The Port side of the operation leans toward bold, flavorful American-style beers.  Port is no stranger to hoppy Red’s, big IPA’s, high ABV stouts and other tasty brews.  The brewery is currently gearing up to release “Board Meeting” (pictured below), a brown ale brewed with generous amounts of Ryan Brothers coffee beans and TCHO cocoa nibs.  The result is a delicious chocolate, coffee ale that you won’t want to pass up.

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No matter what styles your palate prefers, Port / LA is there to fill your needs.  Grab a spot at the bar and get a feel for the working life of a brewery.  Stop by on a brew day and let the aromas flood your senses.  If you’re lucky, maybe the resident brew cat will even grace you with his presence.

Big Thank You to Lead Brewer Matt Webster and the rest of the gang at Port / LA for their generous hospitality.  You might know Matt from his starring role in the Angel’s Share video below.  We truly appreciate his willingness to give us a glimpse into the operation and share the brewery with us.

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Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey is located at: 155 Mata Way, Suite 104, San Marcos, CA 92069.  800-918-6816.

Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. Part 1 – Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens.

What can I say about Stone Brewing that hasn’t already been said?  While I won’t bore you with facts and figures or the latest production numbers, I would like to strongly encourage every craft beer drinker out there, to at some point, make the pilgrimage to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, CA.

The 1-acre garden is full of streams, waterfalls, bridges, stone formations, canopies and pathways, and is easily the most picturesque beer garden I’ve ever laid eyes on.  To step foot inside, is to be whisked away to beer nirvana.  Combine the peacefulness of the gardens, with the deliciousness of the beer and one can easily lose a day just watching the world go by.

Greg Koch and his team at Stone have gone to great lengths to make Stone a “destination” and not just another place to stop for a brewery tour.  And yet, just a short distance from the peace and quiet in the gardens, sits a modern brewhouse and bottling line that’s continually pumping out beer 24 hours / day.

The world-class bistro offers the best of both worlds, with tables overlooking the gardens, plus a panorama into the brewhouse.  On warm days, guests can sit at one of the stone tables on the outside patio and order from the back bar.

A seat at either the indoor or outdoor bar, will reward you with a selection of more than 30 taps and an ever-changing selection of 100+ bottles from some of the best breweries in the world.  The food menu is nothing short of fantastic and ranges from stinky cheese plates to pasta to sandwiches to bone-in steaks.

During our visit, it was the annual “Stone Winter Storm”, which features 100 unique Stone kegs and bottles.  This year, Stone was pouring everything from 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale to Special Releases, Barrel-aged variants and more.  I started my visit with a pour of 2004 Old Guardian Barleywine.

If you’re lucky enough to visit during one of the many events, you might even learn a thing or two.  Stone offers classes through their “Beer U” tastings, “Master Pairings with Dr. Bill” and some of the best festivals on the West Coast, including the very popular Sour Fest and the upcoming Oakquinox (a celebration of Barrel-Aged beers).

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is one of those places that needs to be on the “Bucket List” of every craft beer enthusiast.  Whether you’re a fan of their beers or not, it’s just something that needs to be experienced to truly be appreciated.  This wasn’t our first visit and I can assure you, it won’t be our last.

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Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is located at: 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029.  760-294-7866.

Where will you find us next?  Stay tuned.  More to come!

Cheers!


Warming Up At The Denver Winter Brew Fest

Well, here we are again, in the middle of our annual “Beer Fest Drought”.  Gone are the days of Summer, when it seemed like we had multiple brew fests every weekend.  Luckily, wedged between January’s Big Beers up in Vail and February’s Firkin Rendezvous down in Colorado Springs, we’ve got the Denver Brew Fest to help get us through these tough times.  The Denver Brew Fest is a semi-annual event, (the Winter Brew Fest is in January and the Summer Brew Fest falls in July), that takes place at the historic Mile High Station.

Mile High Station, which dates back to 1897, was previously occupied by Midwest Steel & Ironworks and at one point, was utilized to help construct ships for the U.S. Navy during WWII. The building has since been renovated and now serves as a popular spot for receptions, corporate events and private parties.  Its’ 2-story layout and unique architectural features, make it the perfect backdrop for a beer festival.

The Winter Brew Fest offers a VIP option, which allows attendees admittance 1-hour early.  All festival goers have unlimited access to more than 100 beers from more than 40 different breweries. In addition to a wide variety of Colorado breweries, there are also quite a few from out-of-state, including Firestone Walker, Stone, Boulevard and Green Flash.  Aside from the great selection of craft beer, the Denver Brew Fest has live music, a beer and cheese pairing, food trucks, photo booths and more.

This was our first time attending this festival and it’s clear these guys know how to run a great event.  A few hours into the night, some bottlenecks and long lines began to form at the more popular tables, but there was plenty of beer to be had and it didn’t seem to get in the way of anyone’s good time.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and took the opportunity to revisit some of our favorite breweries, while discovering a few new ones along the way.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.

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Mark your calendars for the Summer Brew Fest, which is set for July 26th, 2013.  Tickets and full details can be found on the official website.

Cheers!


Going Big In Vail With Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines

I Love me a good beer fest and here in Colorado, there’s no shortage of good beer fests.  We’ve got plenty to choose from throughout the year.  But, it’s the Great Ones that keep me up at night.  The Great Ones that get me excited like a kid on Christmas morning.  The Great Ones that I’d jump on a flight to attend if I ever moved out-of-state.  (Gasp!)  The annual Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines in Vail is a Great Beer Fest.

Big Beers (or BBB or #Bigbeers for you twitterers / hash tag types), is a world-class event that educates beer lovers, brings us closer together with tastings and bottle shares and when all’s said and done, leaves us thirsting for more.  How the hell have I not been back to this event for the past 6 years!?!?  No clue, but I guarantee it won’t happen again.

On The Road Again

Our adventure began on Friday morning with a trip up old I-70.  No trip through the mountains is complete without a stop at Backcountry Brewery in Frisco.

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Within a few minutes of arriving, our group had secured spots at the bar and I had a glass of Old Beer Wagon Barleywine sitting in front of me, courtesy of Backcountry’s Head Brewer Alan Simons. The perfect beer to warm up with from the sub-freezing temperatures and blowing snow outside. We enjoyed lunch and I got my fill of Alan’s amazing Barleywine and hearty Breakfast Stout.

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Just as we were preparing to press on to Vail, Alan re-appeared and offered us a tour and the chance to check out Backcountry’s recent expansion.

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In addition to the new family of fermenters, Backcountry has a new bottling line that should be rolling out 6-packs down the mountain shortly.  Alan was kind enough to share some special treats with us like his GABF award-winning Imperial Saison, Imperial Saison w/ Brett and Tart SaiZin, which was aged in Zinfandel barrels.  Another great visit to Backcountry.  Their great beers and hospitality can’t be beat.  Be sure to pay Backcountry a visit on your next trip up that way.

Warming Up With A Bottle Share

We pressed on and in no time, found ourselves pulling into Vail.  We hadn’t even checked into our condo yet, when I realized Gary V from American Craft Beer Radio was trying to catch up with us for a beer.  With not much else planned for the day and bone chilling, sub-zero temperatures outside, we decided to coordinate a bottle share for the night.

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Nice photo bomb Gary!

We had a solid group of craft beer enthusiasts including Dave from Fermentedly Challenged, John from Backcountry Pizza, Lauren from Napa of Beer, plus several homebrewers and our host Gary from American Craft Beer Radio.  It was a lot of fun just to sit around, taste and share a variety of beers from Cigar City to Jester King.  Surly Five is such a tasty, barrel-aged Brett beer.  Three Floyds Dark Lord seems to show up at every tasting we attend and I can’t get enough of the rich, inky stout. And Cantillon continues to be my favorite Belgian Brewery.

We talked and tasted into the wee hours.  Thanks to everyone involved for a great time!

The Main Event

On Saturday, with no kids to wake me up at 5 AM, I managed to sleep in until all of 7 AM.  A quick check on the phone revealed a lovely temperature of -15 F.

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Yeah, -15 F is pretty special.  No reason to fight it.  We just got the gang together, got the fire going, started a pot of coffee and whipped up pancakes, sausage and eggs.  Who forgot the bacon???

Before I knew it, we were off to the Commercial Tasting Session.

Starting things off right with some Rochefort and Orval.

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Hair of the Dog!  Love me some Adam!  DSC_1041

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Brian and Great Divide had plenty of big beers, plus a special keg of Peach Grand Cru and a variety of cheeses to pair with their beers.DSC_1052

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Breckenridge Brewery brought out their big beers to share, including their Barrel-Aged Holidale.  DSC_1049

Jim, Kjell and Melissa from Rockyard Brewing brought a bunch of small batch, big brews, along with their collaborative Buddha Nuvo to share.DSC_1055

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Look for Strange Brewing to bottle their award-winning, Dr. Strangelove Barleywine in the coming weeks.  This will only be available at the brewery in very limited quantities, so don’t miss out.  DSC_1057

Danny from CAUTION: Brewing showing off his newest growler design.  Emperor’s Royal Guard Red for those keeping score at home.  DSC_1032

Crooked Stave brought pretty much everything, including the kitchen sink!  DSC_1061

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Awesome as always.  Thanks guys!  DSC_0002

I finally had the opportunity to sample the variety of sours from Colorado’s Three Barrel Brewing. They are hoping to get bombers into the Denver market later this year.  I really enjoyed all of their beers and if you’re a sour fan, I’d definitely keep an eye on them.
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Dry Dock Head Brewer Doug Hyndman was happy to share some Bligh’s Barleywine.
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Sam Adams 10th Anniversary of Utopias was flowing during the fest.  At nearly $200 / bottle, it was probably my last chance to try this big, rich and tasty beer.  DSC_0015

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Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione was almost as excited as we were when Bell’s “lost shipment of beer” showed up to the tasting.  DSC_0034

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Xandy from Elevation was pouring Apis IV, plus their next two beers, Oil Man and Señorita.  You won’t want to miss these upcoming bottle releases.
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Goose Island had plenty to choose from, including Bourbon County Brand Stout and Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout.DSC_0086

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Keep an eye out for Roadhouse Brewing from Jackson Hole, WY.  They won’t open until later this Spring, but already have a tasty IPA, Saison and Belgian Strong Ale.  DSC_0112

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Brewtally Best of Show

With so many amazing beers, covering a wide variety of styles, it was nearly impossible to narrow down a favorite.  But here are three that stuck with me.

Big Beer: Bell’s Brewery – Raspberry Wild One.  With the ridiculous amount of stellar beers pouring, I could easily list 10 as my “Favorite Big Beer”, but I’ve done my best and narrowed it down to this one.  The Wild One.  The tartness, mixed with the sweet fruit, was what made me enjoy this one so much.  It’s got complexity and depth with the oak presence, acidity and sour notes. Raspberry Wild One was just a great beer that really stuck out in my mind from the weekend.  Great job Bell’s!

Belgian: Brasserie d’Orval – Orval.  This is the Trappist that goes against the grain.  While the other Trappist monasteries brew some of the finest Dubbels and Quads around, Orval takes a different approach with their dry, slightly hoppy and funky Brettanomyces brewed beer.  I could drink Orval all day.  Drink it fresh for the hops, or age it for a little more Bretty funk.  Orval is a delicious beer and the only one the brewery puts into bottles.

Barleywine: Strange Brewing – Dr. Strangelove.  This is an American Barleywine with tons of sweet, caramel malt, balanced by a generous does of hops.  Head Brewer Tim Myers, said he hopes to bottle Dr. Strangelove later this month and sell bottles at the brewery shortly thereafter.  Job well done.  Beer hunters, snag some if you can.

With 200+ beers pouring this past weekend, it’s downright unfair to pick just 3, so here are a few others that definitely deserve a mention: Wynkoop – The Chancellor Barleywine, AC Golden – Peach Sour, Mission Brewing – Double IPA, Hair of the Dog – Adam, Three Barrel – Penitente Chimayo, Surly – Abrasive, Rockyard – Buddha Nuvo, Trappistes Rochefort – 10, Renegade – Black Gold (Peanut Butter Cup Stout), Oskar Blues / Ska – OSKAr the G’Rauch, Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout, Elevation – Oil Man Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, Boston Beer Company – Utopias 10th Anniversary, Crooked Stave – L’Brett d’Or, Backcountry – Imperial Saison with Brett, Grimm Brothers – Wee Heavy Bourbon Barrel Brett and on and on and on.  As you can see, the list was phenomenal!

Here’s some links to last week’s radio shows, both of which were live from Vail:

Colorado Craft Beer Show

American Craft Beer Radio

Vail Big Beers gives beer lovers a rare chance to sample some of the finest beers on the planet AND talk to the brewers that create them.  Such a great weekend and a BIG Thank You to all involved.  We can’t wait to go back next year.

Cheers!


Miracles Happen At The Denver Only Beer Festivus!

We had the opportunity to attend the Denver Only Beer Festivus last Saturday.  This is a new (and hopefully recurring) beer festival that was presented by Denver Off The Wagon and Imbibe Denver. The event was held at the recently renovated McNichols Building at Civic Center Park in Denver and featured ONLY Denver breweries (all 18 of them!).  Despite having sold out weeks ago, the inaugural Festivus had no lines, great beer, a DJ and dance area, plenty of room to move about and brewers working their booths and supporting their craft beers.  At one point, my wife whispered in my ear “This might be my new favorite beer festival”.  It was truly a Festivus Miracle!

TRVE Brewing just keeps getting better and better.  Owner / Brewer Nick Nunns was pouring Diotima, a Smoked Tea Saison and Stout O))), a thick and roasty American Stout.  Stop by the brewery and give these brews a try if you haven’t already.  Stout O))) was one of my favorite beers of the night.  It’s a hearty brew and perfect for those cold winter nights that lie ahead.

Crooked Stave brought the funk and crushed it as usual.  No shocker there.  Amazing brews.

There was a Yeti sighting at the Great Divide table.  They brought Oak-Aged Yeti, Titan IPA, Hibernation Ale and their upcoming Belgian Tripel called Orabelle.  Keep an eye out for Orabelle in 12oz. bottles sometime in January.

Prost is awesome, but you already knew that.

Strange Brewing always brings a great lineup and the Festivus was no exception.  Head Brewer Tim Myers brought his “Beers Made By Walking” release called Eldorado Juniper Bel-Jin Dark, along with the very tasty Pumpkin Porter and Le Bruit du Diable Farmhouse Ale.

I geek’d out for a good 20 minutes at the River North Brewery table.  They brought some big and impressive beers for all the geeks in the house.  They were pouring a barrel-aged version of Avarice (Belgian-style Imperial Stout), along with Quandary (Quadrupel) and Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle (Belgian-style Double IPA).  Awesome stuff.

The standout of the night for me was Black Shirt Brewing and their Imperial Red Rye IPA.  This a hop heads wet dream.  Man, I was blown away by this beer with its’ full and complex flavor profile.  I also tried their Saison and Red Ale, both of which were really tasty.  There was reportedly a keg of Red Hubbard Squash Saison, but it was so popular that they ran out before I got a pour.

Black Shirt Brewing Co-Owner Branden Miller has been really helpful with providing information and answering questions for the blog and it was nice to finally meet and taste his beers.  Guys, I’m excited about this one.  Black Shirt Brewing looks to be the real deal.  Miller said that going forward, they plan to open every Saturday, so check the Weekend Beer Buzz for updates on what they’ll be pouring in the Tap Room.

And that’s just a few of the many great breweries that were in attendance at the Festivus.  Don’t forget Our Mutual Friend, CAUTION, Denver Beer Co., Wynkoop, Wit’s End, Renegade and on and on! Denver is lucky to have so many great, young brewers that are crafting some awesome beers these days. It’s really impressive to see so many high quality beers coming out of places that are so new to the brewing community.  I can’t wait to see where we’ll be in 5 years.

So that’s just a quick recap on the Festivus scene and the many great beers that were flowing. Again, awesome, awesome time.  Thanks again to Denver Off The Wagon and Imbibe Denver for hosting a great event.  Now, on to the pictures.

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Cheers!


Colorado Beer Lovers Celebrate Zwanze Day At Crooked Stave

Wow, what a weekend of beer.  Even if you only had half as much fun as I did, you’re still in great shape.  My only complaint is that the weekend still isn’t long enough for my liking.  I’m still campaigning to cut the work week down and get a 3-day weekend every week, but that hasn’t happened yet…

On Saturday, we were lucky enough to attend Zwanze Day over at Crooked Stave.  After a weekend of good beer, I typically like to let the pictures do the talking, but I have some thank you notes and quick observations to share with you.

First of all, a HUGE Thank You to Chad Yakobson and his team over at Crooked Stave.  They had their hands full with the hundreds of sour beer freaks that started showing up on their doorstep as early as 3 AM on Saturday morning.  The Crooked Stave gang did an outstanding job of handling the large turnout and keeping everyone happy on a very busy day.  Thank you guys!  You rock!

Second, big shout out to the Colorado Craft Beer Community. The pre-Zwanze bottle share was nothing short of awesome and the generosity was unreal.  Huge thanks to everyone that brought beer and food to share.  I was camped out next to the table that was full of beer bottles, hoplava (hoppy baklava), doughnuts and 5 pounds of freshly grilled bacon.  If that’s not reason enough to get up at 4 AM, I don’t know what is.  You guys rock and I’m proud to be part of this enthusiastic, friendly and generous group of beer lovers.

Finally, Thank You to Jean Van Roy and Brasserie Cantillon for sending some of your amazing beer to Colorado and sharing it with us.  As if the highly anticipated Zwanze wasn’t enough, you spoiled us with Fou’ Foune on draft and bottles of Lou Pepe Framboise, St. Lamvinus, Classic Gueuze and Iris. Not to mention, my wife finally got that Cantillon shirt she’s been trying to track down for too many years to count.  Thank You Cantillon, I hope Colorado made you proud.  Cheers!

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Chad handing out the magic tickets

Chad handing out the magic tickets

Hmm, Does two dates mean I have the option to buy two pours?

Hmm, Does two dates mean I have the option to buy two pours?

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The international toast at 1PM MST

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Hope you enjoyed this round of pictures.  If you have comments, pictures or anything you’d like to share from your Zwanze Day experience, please send me an e-mail or leave a comment on our Facebook Page.  I’m sorry we missed Parade of Darks at Wynkoop and the Grand Opening of Black Bottle Brewery up in Fort Collins, but I’ll never forget Zwanze Day.

Good to the last drop!

Good to the last drop!

Cheers!


Pints in Pictures: Our Mutual Friend, CAUTION: Brewing Co. and The All Colorado Beer Festival

Another brew filled weekend has come and gone.  Here’s the highlights in pictures.

Our Mutual Friend was open for the weekend.  The Huckleberry Roasters Coffee Stout is delicious!

Next, we met up with some friends at CAUTION.  The Green Tease blew me away.  It’s brewed with Green Tea Leaves and two Sake yeasts.  Really nice, refreshing beer.

We wrapped up our weekend with a trip down South to attend the All Colorado Beer Festival.  It was nice to finally try Paradox and some of their Barrel-Aged brews.  I also got my Trinity fix and sampled new beers like the Lips of Faith releases from New Belgium and Upslope’s Christmas Ale.

Another great weekend of beer here in Colorado!

Cheers!


Pints in Pictures: Great American Beer Festival 2012

Another Great American Beer Festival has come and gone.  It was a weekend spent with old friends, meeting new ones and sampling beers from all over this great country.  Oskar Blues launched Dale’s Pale Ale in 19 oz. cans, I got to try a beer brewed with Rocky Mountain Oysters (tasty!) and local Colorado brewers took home 35 medals, including Small Brewing Company of the Year, which was awarded to Funkwerks out of Fort Collins.  Congrats to all the winners!

The awards ceremony was moved downstairs to the Wells Fargo Theatre, which allowed for more room in the main hall of the Convention Center.  In past years, it was nice to give attendees a chance to watch the presentation, but the extra space was a very welcome addition to the festival this year. I didn’t experience the cramped spaces or bottlenecks that I remember being a problem during past GABF’s.  The inevitable lines at popular breweries like Dogfish Head and Russian River were fast-moving and not an issue.  Things just seem to run very smoothly this time around.  I’ll drink to that. Oh wait, I already did.

It’s been such an amazing weekend.  Once again, Congratulations to all of the medal winners. Check out the full list of GABF Winners and see if your local brewery took home some hardware this weekend.

And without further ado, here’s a photo recap of GABF 2012.

It’s been an amazing weekend.  Hope everyone had a blast!

Cheers!


Pints in Pictures: Docktoberfest, Craft Beer Radio, Wild Woods Brewery, Rumpkin Release and the New Dry Dock

Awesome weekend.  You can read about it later.  For now, just look.

On Saturday, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan tapped the first keg of Oktoberfest at Dry Dock Brewing with owners Kevin and Michelle Delange.

Next stop, off to ESPN Radio to talk beer on American Craft Beer Radio with host Gary V. and special guests, Chris Black, owner of Falling Rock Tap House, Dustin Lemoine from Avery Brewing and Duane Taylor of The Brew Hut.

Then it was off to Boulder’s newest brewery, Wild Woods.

And eventually over to Avery for the release of this year’s batch of Rumpkin.

Then a little cookout, football and sneak peek into the new Dry Dock facility on Sunday.

Busy, busy weekend.  Plenty of things to write about, I just wanted to share a few pics and hopefully ease your “Case of the Mondays”.

Cheers!