Tomm Carroll’s 2010 Great American Beer Festival Adventures (Part 3)

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Beer Festival Denver

Through September 18, beer writer Tomm Carroll is filing quick-hitting dispatches from the Great American Beer Festival on his iPhone. Read his reports from the Super Bowl of beer.

GABF DAY 2: Destination Fort Collins

Thanks to ace New Belgium L.A. rep Dallas Byerly, who arranged a shuttle to take several of the L.A. beer scene contingent 90 minutes upstate to beautiful Fort Collins, to tour NB’s spacious wind-powered facility. Although NB beer was available on the shuttle, many of us stuck to water to pace the day.

Beer Festival Denver

The phenomenal Eric Salazar of Eric’s Ale fame led the brewery tour, and there were stops on the tap room along the way, for pours of the new candy-sweet blonde Sahti, made with juniper berries, as is true to the ancient Scandinavian style, altho bittered with Cascade and Amarillo hops. Also the mildly tart Tart Lychee, made from the nuts of the same name, and the wonderfully sour brown ale, La Folie.

In the barrel room. We got to taste some beer right from the giant Foedor. Used for secondary fermenting the sour beers. I think the one we tried — warm, woody and extremely dry — was the Felix, a rare dry-hopped sour that made an appearance at Stone’s Sour Fest in July.

Beer geeks turned nerds: Graham Haverfield, left, Tom Kelley and Jace Milstead don safety glasses for the tour of New Belgium’s brewery in Fort Collins.

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After the tour of the brewery, barreling and bottling operations, we were led to a small banquet room off the taproom for a pairing luncheon; there were four tables, each with a different New Belgium beer on them, as well as four food pairings for each beer, including a cheese and a dessert.

Beer Festival Denver

Each one was amazing. In fact, I never enjoyed Mothership Wit so much as when I had it paired with these foods. Check out the menu in the above photo for the specifics.

After lunch, most of us walked down the road a bit to Odell, another great Fort Collins brewery known for bottle-aging their beers. Many went for a taster flight as a representation of their tap fare; others went right for the wonderful Bourbon-Barrel Stout.

In the taster flight were such beers as the bretty Sabateur, and the tart Wanderer. Most interesting, and unlikely, was the Curry Wheat. The banana and clove esters of the German wheat beer yeast merge very compatibly with the curry for a dry, fruity-spicy finish.

We buy a few bottles to take home (the bourbon stout will age nicely) and then Dallas brings the shuttle around to fetch us for the ride back to Denver.

After all, there’s another fest session this afternoon…

GABF Session 2
Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Make a quick swing the convention floor before heading off to a big Italian dinner (and taking a break from beer) at Osteria Marco later in the evening. Didn’t seem as crowded or as zoo-ey as past Friday sessions.

Among the standouts:

Portsmouth’s Gose (subtle on the rock salt)
Cambridge’ CaCow (milk stout aged on cacao nibs)
Odell’s Friek (a cherry and raspberry lambic that is both sweet and sour)
Odell’s Mercenary (a 10% Double IPA full of citrusy hop-oil aroma and flavor)
Great Divide Espresso Oak-aged Imerial Stout (this beer remains amazing and is becoming a landmark of the style)
Flying Fish Exit 16 (Rice and hops? Refreshingly light bodied for a double IPA)
Flying Fish Exit 1 (smoky and chewy oyster stout)
Erie Derailed (black cherry ale that tastes just like a soda)
Captain Lawrence Cuvee de Castleton (past GABF award-winning sour)
Captain Lawrence imperial smoked Porter (deep, dark and smoky; wonderful — this could launch a whole new substyle)

And, surprising to me, I really liked three new beers at the Samuel Adams big booth:
Stony Brook Red (a kinda gateway Flemish Red, with Tart fruit and oak notes)
American Kriek (truly sweet and sour cherry; a mild Echte Kriek)
Lattitude 48 (the hoppieat beer i’ve ever tasted from Sam Adams, with the exception of the Hallertau Imperial Pilsner. With German, English and Americn hops all grown on the 48th parallel).

Later on the evening, a stop by the divey Star Bar found Russian River Supplication, as well as Avery’s 15th Anniversary and Altar Boy on tap. Also to be be found were several L.A. beer scene folks, most of them mentioned earlier, along with JJ from Mutineer Magazine, checking out the live band and the great tap list.

It’s funny, because you hardly ever see so many L.A. beer people together at the same bar in L.A. Think of at this as L.A. Beer Week on tour.

Beer Festival Denver

Owner Jim Koch stops by the Sam Adams booth to pose for photos with fest attendees.

Tomm Carroll is a feature writer and the L.A. correspondent for the Celebrator Beer News, the oldest beeriodical in the United States. He has also written about beer for the Ale Street News, Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Today, and is an experienced Beer Judge in homebrew and commercial competitions. An avid beer drinker, enthusiast, collector, writer and traveler, he drinks locally and globally. He can be reached at [email protected].

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