Monday, September 26, 2011

More Beer Things to do in Denver during 2011 GABF

You're in Denver for the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, but what do you do when you're not wandering from booth to booth on the convention floor during one of the tasting sessions? Seek out more beer to drink, of course. Denver is one of the best beer cities and there are a plenty of breweries, brewpubs and beer bars in the area to visit.

The Denver Beer Fest runs from Sept 23rd ~ Oct 1st and their website is great resource for finding beer events by date, type and location. If you want an easy way to find everything and see it on a map, check out the City Beer Map for Denver and surrounding area on The Beer Mapping Project website.

Here's a few beer places that I recommend if you're staying downtown (in no particular order):

Falling Rock Tap House (Beer Bar) - Probably the best beer bar in Denver. Located in the trendy LoDo area, its got a huge selection of draft and bottled beer.  However, don't plan on finding a place to sit down and be prepared for very long wait times to get a beer.
Rock Bottom Brewery (Brewpub) - Only a couple blocks from the convention center and on the 16th Street Mall, it makes a great place to meet up and grab a bite before and/or after the GABF tasting sessions.
Wynkoop Brewery (Brewpub) - Colorado's oldest brewpub. Great place to grab a fresh pint and some good food.
Great Divide Brewing Co (Brewery) - Stop by their Tap Room for a sample of their beers and take a tour.
The Cheeky Monk (Belgian Beer Cafe) - Great selection of Belgian beers on tap and in the bottle as well as good food.

There are also various beer bars and brewpubs scattered around the greater Denver area. The Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery is long time favourite of mine, particularly for the Sunday brunch.

If you have a car and a designated driver, you can also take a short road trip to visit some of the breweries in and around Fort Collins (New Belgium, Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins Brewing) or Longmont (Oskar Blues Brewery, Left Hand Brewing Company) or Boulder (Avery Brewing Company, Boulder Beer Company, Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery).

Anyone have any specific events or parties they want to mention??

Friday, September 23, 2011

TxBF Happy Hour to Benefit Houston Food Bank at Ginger Man

The Texas Beer Fest has helped to organize a special Happy Hour to benefit the Houston Food Bank at the Ginger Man this Friday, Sept 23rd starting at 7:00pm. Barrel-aged versions of Real Ale's Lost Gold IPA and Anniversary Ale as well as Black Wit-O from No Label will be available and for only $10, you'll get a Texas Beer Fest pint glass filled (once) with one of those beers.

The weather is perfect today for enjoying a pint out on their patio and you'll be helping a worthy cause as 100% of the proceeds will be going to benefit the Houston Food Bank.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Learning to Taste Beer

This last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in an off flavour training seminar organized by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. Sponsored by Real Ale and hosted at Independence Brewing, the class was designed to help identify common flavours and aromas in beer that are typically undesirable (although, depending on the style, some are not only desired but even required).

The goal is to help train your palate to identify these often subtle flavours and aromas, so they were presented to us in an exaggerated and sometimes overwhelming state. Tim Shwartz of Real Ale lead the seminar and walked us through each sample and discussed what causes the different flavour or aroma, where it might be appropriate and steps to take for avoidance. Samples of a common and cheap macro lager were spiked in order to experience the various off-flavour profiles and small vials containing various noxious potions were handed around to sniff to experience some of the aromas.

A word of caution though, once you take a class like this, it may change your opinion on beers that you've enjoyed in the past as you'll begin to notice these off flavours a lot more. There were a few "a-ha" moments during the class as people identified flavours in beers that they consumed recently but now recognized as one or more of these off-flavours. Not everyone can detect all off flavours and aromas however, so don't be surprised if someone raves about a beer that you clearly detect butterscotch (Diacetyl) or they notice a corn or vegetable aroma (Dimethyl Sulfide) and you don't. If you're going to the GABF, check around the middle of the convention floor near the Brewers Guilds as they often have a booth setup to try your hand at identifying off flavours. 

If you want more information regarding off flavours and aromas, check out this PDF file available on the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) website. If you're interested in attending a similar class, check with a local homebrew club or homebrew supply store and see if they offer any or if they'd be interested in organizing one.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Map of 2011 GABF Convention Floor Now Available

The map of the 2011 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) convention floor is now available on the website. The brewery tasting booths are arranged by region of the country and the attending breweries from Texas are in the Southwest section. If you have any specific breweries and beers that are a "must try", I strongly suggest you download the .pdf file and print the the map and mark the location of those booths. It can be overwhelming and chaotic in the convention center (particularly if this is your first time) and you will definitely miss out on some great beers if you just wander up and down the rows (save that for after you've got to the ones you wanted).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September Glass Nights at the Ginger Man + Bonus Nights

The Ginger Man has released their list of Glass Nights for the month of September:

7th - Castello
14th - Paulaner
21st - Stella
28th - St. Arnolds Oktoberfest

The glasses are available starting at 6:00pm (new start time) and only one glass per person with purchase of the beer of the day. As always, the glasses are subject to change and only available while supplies last.

In celebration of their annual Oktoberfest party, there are also bonus glass nights during the week of 26th (available starting at 2pm):

26th - Sam Adams (Stein)
27th - Shiner
29th - Hofbrau (Stein)
30th - Warsteiner

The Oktoberfest party is Saturday, October 1st with brats, beer and games starting at noon.