GABF hasn’t even officially started yet (that’s tonight!) but already, pre-events for the festival have introduced serious (and seriously delicious) beers. Our three favorites so far:
1. First, we stopped by Cart-Driver, a hip little bistro in Denver that serves up wood-fired pizza and oysters (together at last!). It’s where The Bruery hosted its launch party for Bruery Terreux (terreux = French for “earthy”), a separate brewing facility dedicated to their barrel-aged, wild yeast, funky and sour beers. We tasted (and fell in love with) Atomic Kangarue, a veritable kitchen sink of experimentation: It’s a Belgian golden ale, brewed with Semillon and Viognier grapes, fermented with Brett trios and house yeast, blended with a sour blonde and dry-hopped with Amarillo. How’s that work, you ask? PERFECTLY. You get all of that grapey, vinous flavor flanked by some zesty citrusy notes and a sour funk that digs in the tongue just a bit. The hops, which might seem like the odd man out in the mix, just add a touch of bitterness into the finish that clean it up beautifully. Drinkability factor: High!
2. At the Brewer’s Reception, outside of the Hard Rock Café, we saw just about everyone in the beer industry, jammed to the music of Kyle Hollingsworth (of String Cheese Incident), and tasted the new pilsner from Russian River, STS Pils. It has all the crackerlike malt and snappy pilsner trappings with a beautiful, floral—think lavender and rose—hops that blossom in the middle, before a clean finish.
3. One of the most zany, cool events at GABF in recent years, The Brew Night Show at Lannies Clocktower Cabaret (DRAFT was a sponsor) had a pepped-up potpourri of beer-themed fun: live music, beer comedy, “brew”-lesque dancers and late-night-style sit-down interviews with author Stephen Beaumont, Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva and legendary homebrewer/founder of the GABF Charlie Papazian. Green Flash released its Treasure Chest beer, an absolutely lovely barrel-aged saison brewed with plums; delightfully puckering, a little citric, spritzy and clean, it was an excellent nightcap (and, come to think of it, would also be great with breakfast). Feel-good factor: Proceeds from the beer (and the event) go to breast cancer research.