Wow. Within a few hours I’ve already jotted down tons of tasting notes from some familiar, and not so familiar, breweries. If you’re planning to head to the festival over the next few days, don’t miss out on these beers. If not, well, use your beery imagination and add these to your ticker list. Plus, check out the new 19.2oz Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale can compared to a tube of chapstick. Pretty awesome.
23rd Street The Full Kimono
A collaboration between, 23rd Street, Blind Tiger and Free State, this American strong ale packs an intense hop bite with 90 IBUs and a wealth of bright hop flavor from the Galaxy, Citra and Chinook varieties. Think big citrus and berry notes with a slight touch of roasted malts.
Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate
This brew’s laced with big chocolate flavor, but it doesn’t overwhelm the taste buds. A touch of spiciness nips the back of the throat (typical with chocolate beers) and gives a slight kick to this chocolate-and-roast brew.
Bell’s Smoked Vienna Lager
Just like it sounds, it’s a perfect marriage of a Vienna lager’s toasted bread notes with cold, earthy smoke. Smooth and fantastic.
Fountain Square Hop for Teacher
Love the name, love the beer. This pale ale’s extremely sessionable and is packed with berry and citrus hop notes. Definitely a must-try lighter brew to sip between samples of GABF’s often bigger, louder pours.
If you take a chance on any brewery this festival, make it these guys. Out of Normal, Ill., this brewery’s line of Saint Dekkera sour beers is out of this world. A number of them are aged with fruit and the most stunning is Sour Hawaii, aged with blueberry, strawberry, pineapple, peaches and mango—it’s like a wash of fruit smoothie after a big punch of tartness.
Dogfish Head Choc Lobster
Dogfish Head brought the crazy with this chocolate-and-lobster infused beer. Yes, you read that right. The beer’s got lots of up-front chocolate, followed by a briny, creamy finish that definitely brings the sea creature to mind.
Weyerbacher Sour Black
One of my favorite sour beers so far at GABF. This beer was aged in the same Pinot Noir barrels that housed Rapture (which is also amazing), resulting in a slightly roasty, very soft and smooth beer that’s capped off with a subtle snappy sourness and a delicious vinous beery note.
Marble From the Wood
A previous version of this beer made DRAFT’s 2011 “25 Beers of the Year” list, and this one lives up to its former glory. It’s got wonderful acetic tartness, subtle cherry notes and a great wood character.
Uncle Billy’s Brew & Cue Bride of Zombie
Looking for a hop-packed IPA? You’ll love the big Amarillo and Simcoe notes in this one. Huge citrus, apricot and peach dominate while nice piney and catty hops bring up the rear.
Short’s Peaches and Crème
Purveyors of the avant-garde, Short’s delivers again with this fruit beer. Lactose and peaches give this golden ale an almost peach yogurt flavor, but without the overly yogurtlike tang. It’s fun, which is what GABF is all about.