October 13

Recapping the "Great" in Great American Beer Festival

Last weekend some of the Forbidden Root crew headed west for the Great American Beer Festival. If the name sounds hyperbolic know that there are over 60,000 people attending this four day, multi-session festival where 800 breweries are pouring over 7,200 different beers. So that adjective “great” can apply to anything from event size to beer quality to degree of hangover—just depends how you approach it.

[Where the masses await entry into the convention center.]

One of the coolest things about GABF is there’s a whole world of events and exploring to do outside of the fest, not to mention dozens and dozens of amazing Colorado breweries to visit. We had limited time, but some Denver highlights for us this trip were: visiting Trve and Cerebral Brewing, drinking outside at Falling Rock, pinball at The 1up, breakfast/lunch/dinner at Cheba Hut, getting bar seats at the Casey Brewing and Blending event at Hops & Pie, and a final dinner at Linger (pun intended). 

[Casey beer flights at Hops & Pie.]

Another exciting part of GABF is the Saturday morning award ceremony, when thousands of bleary-eyed brewers funnel into a massive conference room for what’s essentially the Oscars of Beer. This year, 7,923 entries were submitted from 2,217 breweries and judged by 276 people. No small task. In addition to handing out gold, silver, and bronze in 90+ beer style categories (yes, 90+ categories), the Brewers Association also awards best brewery of the year in multiple size categories. 

To peruse all 2017 medal winners check out PorchDrinking's "Winners & Awards Breakdown" post. Huge congrats to our West Town nieghbor On Tour Brewing for taking home a gold, silver, and Best Very Small Brewery of the Year. Our former assistant brewer, Roger, picked up a silver medal for Corridor where he's now lead brewer, and Hailstorm Brewing took home gold in the IPA categorey, which had over 400 entries. Maplewood Brewery, Piece PizzaSmylie Brothers, and Horse Thief Hollow also brought home medals for Illinois.


[Inside the Cerebral taproom.]

While we didn’t take home any hardware, we did get some nice shout-outs from Denver Post’s The Know and 303 Magazine. In a sea of beer it’s always a blast to have people return to your table for more beer. 

And for those of you curious about how mere mortals work their way through almost 8,000 beers to rank first, second, and third places, ABV Chicago’s latest episode has a nice interview with our very own Randy Mosher (1:10:43). Randy has been judging GABF beers for 10 years, and discusses how he keeps his pallete fresh when working through such varied categories as chili beers, Beligan Strongs, and American Wheats. He also talks about some of his favorite beers from the fest and drops mention of our future plans for TORO...