Great American Beer Fest ~ 2013 ~ Denver Colorado ~ Friday (100th post) #GABF

Posted: October 19, 2013 in Beer Drinking Adventures, Brewery Feature
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So begins this years installment of my travels from the 2013 Great American Beer Festival in Denver Colorado…and it just so happens to turn out to be my 100th blog post too.   This years trip was about half the time as the previous years adventures but still equally as fun…new crew, some new spots, same results of a great time.

 

Like last year, we spent a day away from all of the craziness of the Denver area.  After a very early morning flight from Buffalo NY to Chicago IL to Denver CO, the day did not start off well unfortunately.  The place that I ordered my rental car through handled it like it was amateur hour.  I departed my plane at 1010am and hurried over to my rental bus in an expedient manner as my friends were landing at 1050am from Los Angeles.   Unfortunately, the bus filled up very quickly but the bus driver was just stalling for time.  After a nice 15 minute wait on ‘our side’ of the airport, the bus took the 15 minute drive around the airport property to the other side of the airport.   I found out later on that the rental car place was so busy and under staffed, that the bus driver was not allowed to return until he was instructed to do so because they didn’t want a line out of the door.   At 1050am when my friends landed, we had just arrived to the rental car place and guess where the line was….out the door.  After waiting for literally 90 minutes in line to get my rental car (and having my guys just come directly to the rental car place…also after a long delay too), we took the one hour drive north up to Fort Collins.

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Mayor of Old Town

Our first stop was for lunch at Mayor of Old Town.  It was definitely a much nicer experience this time as we went there for lunch (before drinking) as opposed to last year when we ended up there after a full day’s worth of drinking.  The food was decent and a nice send off for a full day of brewery tours and shenanigans…plus I was able to enjoy a nice beer while there…

Odell Brewing Deconstruction ~ American Wild Ale ~ 10.5% ABV

 

From Mayor of Old Town, we made out first brewery stop of the day at Odell Brewing.  This was my first time ever coming here so I was definitely excited to get here.  Upon arrival, the place seemed like a huge production brewery and the parking lot was packed.  When entering the building, there was a huge line passing in front of the bar…not knowing the routine there, I was already to bail out of the there because I didn’t want to waste time waiting in a long line for a beer…but was talked off the ledge to stay.  Apparently, when they are serving beers or flights, you wait in a line to order and pay for the beers but once completed, you go to the other side of the bar area and wait for the other servers to unload your pint or tray of samplers.   Given on how crowded the place was, it was very efficient of a system as we had our beers within several minutes of ordering.

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Interior of Odell Brewing

Odell offered three different pre-determinded flights and many pints for order.  The building itself is a wide open expanse with plenty of seating options available.  Here were my flight options while we were there…

Odell Brewing Crush White IPA ~ American IPA ~ 5.6% ABV
Odell Brewing Hand Picked IPA ~ American IPA ~ 7.0% ABV
Odell Brewing Celastrina ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 7.5% ABV
Odell Brewing Myrcenary Double IPA ~ Double / Imperial IPA ~ 9.3% ABV
Odell Brewing Mountain Standard Double Black IPA ~ Black IPA ~ 9.5% ABV
Odell Brewing Fernet Aged Porter ~ Porter ~ 7.3% ABV

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Odell Brewing Co-Pilot Flight

Overall, Odell was a very nice to visit, big facility and nice tasting room but it was a little too crazy for my liking during the GABF week, may be better to visit when it is a little less crowded.  From Odell, we made the quick three minute drive over to Funkwerks.

 

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Funkwerks Brewing

Funkwerks is a small brewery located in a industrial complex just outside of Fort Collins (where most of the breweries are located) and specializes in Saison style beers primarily.  Funkwerks was another stop that I am thankful that we hit up early year before the fuzzy head and palate wrecking kicked in, as it was one of our last stops one night last year.  When we arrived there, the place was pretty full with patrons.  We had to wiggle our way up to the bar, place our order, then make our way to the front deck where we shared a table with a bunch of guys from Columbus OH.  Of course, I had to get another flight and some extra beer too…

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My flight of beers and some South Central Cholo

Funkwerks Belgian White ~ Witbier ~ 6.8% ABV
Funkwerks Saison ~ Saison / Farmhouse ~ 6.8% ABV
Funkwerks Tropic King ~ Saison / Farmhouse ~ 8.0% ABV
Funkwerks Dubbel ~ Abbey Dubbel ~ 6.3% ABV
Funkwerks Quad ~ Quadrupel ~ 11.0% ABV
Funkwerks Rum Barrel Deceit ~ Belgian Strong Ale ~ 10% ABV

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Funkwerks was fun to stop into again but I was rather disappointed with the beers this year as it seemed like the flavors in each beer just weren’t as bold as they were last year.  The Rum Barrel Deceit was a very nice find and I purchased a bottle of their Saison with Asian Tea to go too.  One of the guys that we were talking to stated that they had just come from Equinox Brewing and said it was decent…so….

 

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Equinox Brewing

Equinox Brewing is located in downtown Fort Collins and a small little brewpub.  When we arrived at Equinox, I think we had bigger anticipation of having a few beers while we there but got caught up in the table shuffleboard in the back of the bar.  Apparently, shuffleboard has not made its way out to the west coast area as neither of my travelling companions have ever played it before.  Basically, we were there only long enough to enjoy this beer…

Equinox Brewing Space Ghost IPA ~ American IPA ~ 6.4% ABV

After slowing down our beer guzzling for the shuffleboard, we decided to bail out of Equinox and make our way over to New Belgium before they closed down for the night.

 

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New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing is a large production brewery but also has a large wide open tasting room too.  The tasting room was rather large, featured roughly 20 beers on tap and also offered a decent selection of bottles too.  One nice thing that we learned was that if you purchased a bomber and showed your AHA membership, you received a free tulip glass…so obviously I bought a beer to go.  Even though we were pressed for time because they were closing down not too long after we arrived, we were able to jam in a couple of tastings before we were ‘forced’ to leave.

New Belgium (Lips of Faith series) Le Terrior ~ American Wild Ale ~7.5% ABV
New Belgium (Lips of Faith series) Fresh Hop India Pale Ale ~ American IPA ~ 7.0% ABV

I really like New Belgium actually, even though it was not one of our ‘planned’ stops for the trip but like all plans when doing GABF, they are only as good as the first beer you have then are completely open for negotiation (aka all bets are off).  But, from our unscheduled stop, we made the 45 minute trek south to a definitely planned stop in Boulder.

 

Avery Brewing was a huge hit with me last year and would be a definite staple every time I go back to the area because they pull out the big guns for the Denver Craft Beer Week, with non-stop barrel aged goodies, retired beers suddenly reappearing and one gone one offs reemerging every day, every three hours.  Upon entry into the building, we immediately made our way back to the barrel room.  I don’t know why but there is something cool about just sitting amongst the barrels drinking the great beers.  We quickly ordered up some great retired beer and started making friendly chat with people whose names I couldn’t remember for the life of me or where they were from (head fuzziness what starting to kick in a little bit).  Here were my ticks from Avery Brewing…

Avery Brewing Eremita II ~ American Wild Ale ~ 9.5% ABV
Avery Brewing Eremita VI ~ American Wild Ale ~ 6.5% ABV
Avery Brewing Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale ~Barleywine ~ 15.5% ABV

Avery was a fun time as always and I wish we could have stayed longer but those retired beers aren’t cheap when buying a round comes to a couple of twenty dollar bills easily, it can get expensive very quickly.  From Avery, we decided that it was time to get some more food in our system and recommended that we hit up Mountain Sun Brewing.

 

Mountain Sun Brewing is a small brewpub in downtown Boulder with a pretty solid menu and decent beers as well.  Unfortunately, our stay there was very brief as one of our party was spending some extra amount of time in the bathroom and the waitress had asked to us leave, as soon as our food was delivered.  Um…No, we will be eating our food defiantly at your establishment and not tipping.   Our stay at Mountain Sun was so brief that I completely forgot to do an Untappd check in for whatever beer that I ordered.

 

After ‘leaving’  Mountain Sun, we headed downtown to our hotel, the Embassy Suites, downtown Denver.  I usually don’t care about hotel while on vacation, especially knowing what a drunk fest it was going to be that weekend but we really lucked our way into this gem.  The Embassy Suites is a part of the Hilton Family of hotels, which I am a devout fan of and their rewards points program.  When we arrived to it and noticed the proximity to the Colorado Convention Center (across the street), I can easily understand why they charge $400/night for the suite.  But, like I said, I am devout fan of their rewards program and being an avid traveler, the room cost us $0 per night..my kind of price.

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Colorado Convention Center (from outside hotel)

While it would have been smart to obviously call it a night and stay in, one of our party said “When the heck am I ever going to be out in downtown Denver during a beer week, lets go out”…that I needed to hear.  Unfortunately, one our party was sleepy and without saying so, decided to go to sleep (aka Passed Out face first on the pull out sofa).

 

We took the nice nightly stroll down to Falling Rock, which is considered the best beer bar in the Denver area.  With a reputation like that, it easily translates into Instant Shit Show as the place was packed, took 15 minutes just to get to the bar and when we did, caught the sneer of the bartender for not having a fourth selection instantly available as the first three were no longer available.  We stayed for one beer…

Stone Brewing Suitable for Cave Aging – Smoked Porter Tribute to Danny Williams Aged in Red Wine Barrels ~ Porter ~ 9.0% ABV

…then headed across the street to a Chicago bro bar called Hayters (actual name) where my travelling companion was introduced to a north side beer staple (and 2013 GABF Silver Medal Winner)…

Pabst Brewing Heileman’s Old Style ~ Pale Lager ~ 5.0% ABV

..which he could barely choke down.  I guess when you are sitting in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, the beer is more palatable…but when in Denver for GABF, more of a turd than a whale.

After enjoying that victory of beer greatness, we decided to call it an early evening (aka we went to two more bars real quick after last call and couldn’t get another beer).

 

The first day was kind of bittersweet because we had such a short trip out to Denver but had accomplished a great amount of beer goodness on our first day.  If there was ever a moral of this story, it would be never to tell me of all people that you don’t get drunk and never get sick from drinking.  Challenge Accepted Sir, You Lose!  (nighty night sweet prince)

Comments
  1. Matt says:

    Aaron certainly lost that bet. I thought he’d hold up a little better, too.

  2. I didnt notice your Untappd check in for Old Style…but he had one….weird.

  3. […] in the hell does the time go?   It seems like it was just yesterday that I was boarding a plane to Denver for the GABF and it turns about that it was a month and a half ago.  Another thing that I thought was ironic […]

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