Posts Tagged ‘new belgium’

Well, in case you don’t remember the Alamo, it is located in downtown San Antonio and quite the boring tourist attraction. I have always been a mild war history nut but the Alamo itself was kind of a let down as far as a tourist attraction went….and they didn’t even serve craft beer (now you can see my disappointment).  The building that you see before you was actually the Chapel of the entire Alamo compound and there isn’t much more beyond that, other than a small courtyard and a gift shop (which must have been built by Davey Crockett himself).

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The Alamo…..(in the basement!)

So my wife wanted to go someplace on vacation that was a heck of a lot warmer than sunny Buffalo (like such a place exists) but wasn’t really interested in going back to Florida, so we decided on taking the kid to Sea World in San Antonio TX.  What we didn’t realize that we came down to San Antonio during Fiesta…which someone described to me as their version of Mardi Gras….except with a lot less boobs being shown and more Mexicans to go around.

Fiesta goes for 18 days straight and is now loosely based around the annual Battle of the Roses, which started as a dedication parade for those that fought at the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto back in 1890.  When we went downtown on Monday night, we visited the Market Square where there were streets lined with vendors and several stages providing various styles of music.  We also visited the famed San Antonio Riverwalk where there was a boat parade going on.  But, by Wednesday afternoon, we had noticed that downtown was becoming crazier with half the roads being closed, bleachers being set up all over the parade route, the cost of parking doubling and every corner being crazy busy…not exactly ideal when towing around a four year old with you.

One of the highest rated and most famous restaurants in San Antonio is Mi Tierra .  Located in the famed Market Square area of downtown San Antonio, this place is know for its great food and 24 hour bakery that never closes.  The food was decent, the atmosphere was great and my daughter is a huge fan of table side Mariachi bands.  Since I was in a Mexican restaurant, it was only fitting that I had to get a Mexican beer that I had never had before…

While we were watching the boat parade on the Riverwalk, I found a kiosk nearby that was serving finger food and serving local craft beer, so I got to drink something while we watched the boat parade…

Later on Monday evening, after the wife and daughter called No Mas!, it was time to meet up with my local trader at his local watering hole for a small bottle share…or so I thought, at Big Hops Growler Station.  We managed to keep the employees up past their bed times and we’re able to crush bottles until 1am (even though they closed at 10pm).

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Big Hops Growler Station now has three locations around the San Antonio area and is a local watering hole for my TX trading partner Chris.  He managed to swindle the employees to allow us to have a bottle share there that night, for my arrival….and here is what we crushed:

Jester King Brewing RU55 ~ American Wild Ale ~ 7.3% ABV
Dark Horse Brewing 3 Pairs of Legs Maple Porter ~ American Porter ~ 7.0% ABV
Prairie Artisan Beers Bible Belt ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 13.0% ABV
Grassroots Brewing Arctic Soiree ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 6.0% ABV
Pisgah Brewing Hellbender ~ American Barleywine ~ 10.2% ABV
Bruery Griffon Bruxellois ~ American Wild Ale ~ 6.1% ABV
Bruery The Wanderer ~ American Wild Ale ~ 8.0% ABV
Freetail Brewing Ananke (2012) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 5.8% ABV
Freetail Brewing Ananke (2013) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 5.8% ABV
Lost Abbey Angel’s Share Brandy Barrel Aged (2008) ~ American Barleywine ~ 12.5% ABV
Karbach Brewing Series F.U.N. Series 008: Fra-Gee-Lay ~ Herbed / Spiced Beer ~ 8.0% ABV
Freetail Brewing La Muerta (2010) ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 10.2% ABV
Cascade Brewing Elderberry ~ American Wild Ale ~ 8.1% ABV
Crooked Stave Artisan Beers Batch #60 ~ American Wild Ale ~ ABV Unknown
Ithaca Brewing Luminous ~ American Wild Ale ~ 6.0% ABV
Darkside Fermentation Flanders Red ~ Flanders Red Ale ~ 7.0% ABV
Grassroots Brewing Arctic Saison ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 6.0% ABV
(512) Brewing Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter ~ American Porter ~ 8.2% ABV
Harpoon Brewery 100 Barrel Series #49: Brown IPA ~ American IPA ~ 5.7% ABV
Brewdog Paradox Springbank ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 10.0% ABV
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Smoke on the Bayou ~ Scottish Ale ~ 9.0% ABV
Crooked Stave Artisan Beers Nightmare on Brett (aged in Leopold Bros Whiskey Barrels) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 9.67% ABV

 

On Tuesday, we took a bus tour around downtown San Antonio, a RiverWalk boat tour, then lunch at a downtown brewpub called The Granary ‘Cue & Brew.

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The Granary

The Granary ‘Cue & Brew has been open for several years now and feature Farm to Table proteins from several farms in Texas.  They strive to feature fresh foods while using only the best local quality ingredients, nothing off the back of a distributors food truck.  From what I can gather, he Granary has been brewing their own beers now for a little over one year now, in keeping with the same standards of ingredients that they utilize with their food too, Farm to Tap.  The interesting thing about their location is that is located in the vicinity of the Pearl Brewing Complex, which has been defunct now for many years.  It was only until recently that a company came along, purchased the entire canning complex and repurposed the property for loft apartments and retail shops but still maintain the Pearl identity.  My wife got the Beef Brisket, my daughter has the chicken and I destroyed a Pastrami Rib crusted with a cracked pepper rub…all of the food was excellent and their BBQ sauce was decent with a nice mildly smoked flavor to it.  At the time we went, they had 4 in-house beers on tap, 2 in-house pops (yes, Pop not Soda) and several guest taps…but since I wanted local beers, I grabbed these selections:

After getting blasted by 95 degree heat all day, we decided to hit the hotel and relax for a little while…and thankfully the Embassy Suites by the airport had a bar inside, so I decided to grab a happy hour turd.

Since we were still very tired from the heat and long day, we decided to stay down for dinner that night and ended up at Freetail Brewing for some pizza and beers.

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Freetail Brewing Company

Freetail Brewing Company was started towards the end of 2008 and have since then grown very nicely with a goal of making quality beers, which they have done.  Some of their bottle selections have become some of the best beers made in TX in many different beer styles with options like La Muerta, Old Bat Rastard and Ananke.  Over the past 5 years, they have grown beyond their current locations capacity and are expanding to a new locations dubbed FT2, which will be their production brewery located in downtown San Antonio.  When we arrived, as if on queue, my daughter passed out in the car about 90 seconds before we arrived, so she was cranky and tired when we entered the place.  Unfortunately, I had enough time there to order a pizza, two quick pints and pay the bill…and all within 20 minutes.  The pizza was pretty good and the in-house beers were decent (tonight):

 

Wednesday morning rolled in and we were all still pretty tired from the previous day, plus my wife still had a touch of heat exhaustion.  We were kind of dragging our asses in the morning but had to power our way through the day because we had tickets for several things that we had to do.  After jumping back on the tour bus and looping almost all the way around downtown again, we stopped at the 750 foot Tower of the Americas.  The Tower of the Americas was the corner stone piece of the HemisFair Park, home of the 1968 World’s Fair, and it listed as the second highest free standing structure in the US, second only to the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

We decided to head back down to the RiverWalk and hit one of the highest rated restaurants in San Antonio, Boudro’s.   Set along the riverwalk, we were able to grab a table right on the riverwalk where my daughter was amused by the birds swimming the riverwalk and waving at all the boats passing by.  While Boudro’s was supposed to be known for their great food, my wife and I left both disappointed in our meals…maybe they are well known for their dinner food.  Anyways, I couldn’t come down to Texas without slamming one of these ‘craft beers’:

After lunch, we headed over to the San Antonio Children’s Museum for a couple of hours to burn some energy off then down the street to San Antonio’s famed Buckhorn Saloon & Museum.  The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum is listed as the oldest running saloon in Texas, dating back to 1881.  It was originally established as a trading post originally for all of the cowboys to blow off steam but then turned into a saloon and house of ill repute.  The interior is loaded with a ton of taxidermy and the largest collection of antlers ever assembled.  For a tourist trap, they actually had a nice tap list of local Texas beers, so I grabbed this one:

After returning to the hotel and the family passing out early on me, I had a little under two hours to get for a couple…and since I was only 10 minutes from Freetail Brewing, I decided to head back there again.

While I was there, I was bullshitting with a couple of guys and it turned out that one guy was opening his brewery sometime by the end of this year.  San Antonio Brewing Company coming soon..plus the guy was really cool about wanting to hear an out of towners perspective on the craft beer scene.  Overall, a really good place to visit with some really good pizza but the house beers were rather disappointing.

 

Thursday morning came and we decided that instead of dragging the four year old all over downtown San Antonio with the craziness of Fiesta, we opted for a two hour drive down to Corpus Christie so that we could hit the beach for the day.  When we got to the shores of North Beach, to my surprise was this fucking beauty…the USS Lexington.

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USS Lexington – Corpus Christi TX

After being at the beach for roughly an hour, the sun broke through the overcast and it was time for a beer, but the only shit that the nearby bar would allow me to leave with was this nasty gem…

During this time, my wife had the realization that her father had served on the Lexington.  As much as I would have loved to tour an air craft carrier, we were nasty from swimming in the Gulf (see BP Oil Rig Spill for more details…), we didn’t think that our daughter would want to take the tour…plus we had to meet some friend out for dinner later that night.

After getting back to out hotel for much needed showers and some quick relaxation time, we headed over to meet up with my Texas trading partner, Chris and his new bride Amanda, at a real San Antonio gem, The Cove.  This place has to be the most diversified business plan in the history of the world…maybe a close second place behind General Electric.  The Cove is comprised of the following entities on the property…a Self Serve Car Wash, Coin Operated Laundry, Ice Cream Parlor, a walk up Food Counter, a music bar, playground, dog park and 50 tap Texas Craft Beer Bar.   Yeah, it was interesting but such a cool set up…after we ate dinner in the front bar (indoors), we headed outside to let the daughter play with the other kids at the playground while the adults drank from the Texas Beer Bar.

 

On Friday, it was my daughters reason for pestering me for the past month…Sea World.  Of course, I had to grab a beer for my theme park tick on Untappd.

Every night between the hours of 5pm-730pm, the hotel we were staying offered up a free happy hour…which included PBR and Killians. Gross indeed, but the hotel bar also had some bottles (that I didnt realize until our last night there) so I decided to grab another Texas turd from the bar…

With the kid and wife passed out and our last night in San Antonio, I decided that I had to sneak back to The Cove for a couple more beers..

Airplane beer, courtesy of Southwest Airlines…

 

I have to say that when we booked this trip, I told the wife to not book anything other than the day to Sea World because I wouldn’t to do things on the fly…after everything was said and done, we did a shit ton of things…and I got to drink a shit ton of good beer.  San Antonio was fun to say the least and a nice craft beer town on the rise.

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Texas Whalez Bro…

As I have stated in my Decisions, Decisions, Decisions Beer It Forward thread, my time on BeerAdvocate.com is coming to an end and am just finishing up with my pending trades and remaining Beer It Forwards.  This particular one was my baby from the get go because I am a lactic acid junkie.  I had started this installment of it before BeerAdvocate.com started banning many long time users for no reason, so I had to keep my head down so that I could see this one through to the end.

Here was my first haul…

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From Left to Right:

  • Almanac Farmers Reserve #3
  • Goose Island Lolita
  • Cascade Brewing Elderberry
  • Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus
  • New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb
  • New Belgium La Folie
  • Tilquin Quetsche
  • New Glarus Wild Sour Ale

…and my second haul arrived yesterday…
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From Left to Right…

  • Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout
  • Bruery Tart of Darkness
  • Commons Brewery Flemish Kiss
  • New Glarus Serendipity
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru
  • Upland Brewing Cherry Lambic
  • Freetail Brewing Ananke
  • Mystery Bottle to be opened with my tasting group this weekend (Goose Island King Henry)
  • Three Floyds Dark Lord
  • Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
  • New Glarus Wild Sour Ale
  • Pipeworks Brewing Berliner Weiss Glass

Overall, I can not complain about my hauls because there are some decent beers in both of them…and every box is better when there is a bottle of Cantillon included inside.  Unfortunately, as the BIF organizer, this one is not done for me until all of the boxes have been delivered safe and sound….three more to go.

The second day in Denver started off much like the previous day, getting up way too early and having way too little sleep.  My bunkmate for the evening keeps off hours for his work schedule and no matter how drunk or hungover that morning, he was still up at 730am that morning.  Being the light sleeper that I am, as soon as he got up out of bed, my eyes were wide open (and so was the head pounding).  I decided that after laying awake for 20 minutes, it was time to hop out of bed, slam down mad amounts of water then go out for a nice morning jog??   53 degrees outside, sidewalks wide open, homeless people still sleeping…a perfect time to go out for a stroll around downtown Denver.  My goal was to run to Great Divide…

…down to Coors Field then back to the hotel.  The only problem with that plan was I wasn’t 100% sure where Great Divide was, so I over shot it by 4 blocks.  Plus, just two blocks from Great Divide is the Salvation Army and a soup kitchen, so there were plenty of street people about on the sidewalks.  Hungover and off the beaten path, I just decided to do an about face and headed back to the hotel.  2.4 miles in roughly 22 minutes wasn’t bad considering how bad my head was still a little fuzzy.

After a large breakfast, we decided to head over to the Colorado Convention Center so we could wait amongst the masses of beer crazed nerds.  As we anxiously awaited the doors to open, there was plenty of entertainment with the people watching.  As noon approached, the line erupts into a roar and what begins as a muddled mess of people pushing the line forward, quickly turns into a nice brisk pace getting through security, obtaining bracelets and our glass for the afternoon.

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I do not know if I can accurately describe the feeling when you enter the main hall of the convention center but once you obtain your glass, whatever plan of attack you had prepared is now gone.  Basically, it was a mad scramble for the three of us in our party to decide what beer we wanted the most…and the winner was…. Bruery Sour in the Rye with Peaches.   But fear not, it was not the only beer of the afternoon, there were definitely plenty more in store…(in order of rating, 4 stars)

 

Four Star Beers…

  1. Bruery Sour in the Rye with Peaches
  2. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour
  3. Russian River Framboise for a Cure
  4. Deschutes Jubelale 2012
  5. Avery Ross’s’s’ Melange
  6. New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb
  7. Live Oak Brewing Hefeweizen
  8. Buffalo Bayou Gingerbread Stout
  9. Freetail Ananke
  10. Bear Republic Tartare
  11. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Flanders
  12. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Raspberry/Strawberry Ale
  13. Nebraska Barrel Aged Hop God
  14. The Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze
  15. Olde Hickory Event Horizon
  16. Fat Heads IBUsive
  17. Spring House Kerplunk! Chocolate Imperial Stout
  18. Peekskill Awesome Sauce
  19. Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
  20. Funky Buddha Passion Fruit Berliner
  21. Deschutes Bellmore Sour Quad

 

Three Star Beers…

  1. Buffalo Bayou Figaro Figaro Figaro Fiiigaro
  2. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Belgian Style Lambic
  3. 7venth Sun Mangrove Double IPA
  4. Blackberry Farm Classic Saison
  5. New Belgium Coconut Curry Hefeweizen
  6. Crossroads Outrage IPA
  7. Great Basin Bitchin’ Berry
  8. Sweetwater Dank Tank Price is Wrong
  9. Round Guys Saison du Pomme
  10. Sweetwater LowRYEder
  11. Swamp Head Saison du Swamp Brettanomyces
  12. Smuttynose Straw-Barb Short Weiss
  13. Forest & Main Solaire Reserve
  14. Crossroads Maggie’s Farmhouse Ale
  15. Bell’s Sparkleberry Ale
  16. Fat Heads Alpenglow
  17. Scratch Carrot Ginger Saison
  18. Freetail Salado Kriek
  19. New Holland Blue Sunday
  20. Austin Beerworks Heavy Machinery Belgian IPA
  21. Funky Buddha No Crusts
  22. New Glarus Serendipity
  23. Trinity Brewing 7 Day Sour
  24. Surly Furious
  25. Kuhnhenn DRIPA Double Rice IPA
  26. Avery Thensaurium
  27. Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter
  28. Dad & Dudes Prickly in Pink
  29. Squatters and Wasatch Squatters Hop Rising
  30. Dad & Dudes Rum, Forrest! Rum!
  31. Goose Island Kisetsu
  32. Goose Island Sofie
  33. Goose Island Sofie Paradisi
  34. Squatters and Wasatch Squatters Hell’s Keep

 

Two Star Beers…

  1. Dad & Dudes Watermelon Basil Wheat
  2. CAUTION: Brewing Hippity Hops Chrysanthemum
  3. Flossmoor Berliner Weisse
  4. Blue Mountain Spooky
  5. Gravity Brewing Orange Blossom Saison
  6. 7venth Sun Brewing Graffiti Orange
  7. Cigar City Cucumber Saison

Now some might wonder why I have had so many great beers at my fingertips but landed on some beers that no one has ever heard.   From time to time, you find yourself wondering through a section, just checking out breweries and you see one that sounds interesting…so you stop and sample it on the way to the next stop.  Also, you may also notice several breweries where there are multiple samples from…well, that is because after waiting in line (for more than several minutes), it is easy to step up, grab a quick sample, slam it, step down about two feet then ask someone else for a sample from the same brewery.  I am not necessarily camping in front of the brewery, thus blocking other thirsty beer nerds, just sampling on the move.

One thing (that is actually a good thing) is that the people pouring the beer are very religious of only pouring the beer samples to the one ounce pour line on the glass.  When you are drinking 50+ samples of mostly high ABV beers, you will come to appreciate them doing their job properly.  The problem is that towards the end of the brewers reserve session, they are trying to empty remaining kegs and leftover pitchers towards the end…so that one ounce pour may turn into a full 4-5oz fill.

Another cool thing about the beer festival, is that there are plenty of guys from the industry to talk to.  Most brewers, especially the smaller ones love to talk about their beers.  Sometimes, you even get to see old friends reunite (and sporting their hardware)…

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(I tried to get them to say FUCK ITHACA instead of the traditional CHEESE but Chief laughed hard, doubling over with Hutch turning away red face… so I had to retake another picture).  (also, the picture is not blurry, this is just what your vision looks likes after 4 hours of solid drinking).

To be concluded…

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)

After the Memorial Day Weekend tasting , I have really slowed down on the drinking so that I could put more of my focus on losing some of this weight that has been apart of my BeerAdvocate build for so long now.  Well, since I have started this little endeavor, I have dropped 10 pounds over the past month and a half.  But with the good of losing weight, also comes the bad of not reviewing as many beers as I normally do.  I have to go back and figure it out but I was reviewing roughly 55-60 new beers per month but since I have been on this weight loss kick, that number has dramatically fallen to about 35-40.  I know, its not like I gave up drinking altogether but that is a serious fall off for a ticker like me.  Anyways, lets get to the tops (and bottoms of the month)…

Top 5 Beer Reviews for June:

 

The 5 Beer Reviews that somehow made it into my mouth during June:

  • The Bruery Provisions Series: Snicklefritz ~ Belgian Strong Pale Ale ~ 3.58 /5 Rating
  • ShawneeCraft Brewing Sub Rosa ~ Quadruple ~ 3.55 /5 Rating
  • Free Will Brewing Napoleon Sour Farmhouse Ale ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 3.34 /5 Rating
  • Rohrbach Brewing Gimme Shelter ESB ~ Extra Special / Strong Bitter ESB ~ 3.26 /5 Rating
  • And the beer that makes me want to avoid Troy NY altogether was Browns Brewing Troyalty Series #1: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 2.90 /5 Rating

When a Loon can only make the #4 spot for the month, it still isn’t a bad month… but, I promise to drink more in July…mainly because I have several beer hauls coming in over the next week and the big Buffalo BA summer tasting coming up next weekend.  Details to come…

Every year for the Memorial Day weekend, my best friend and his family come into town to visit family and hang out with us.  For the past several years, I have attempted to put together a tasting with my local Buffalo BAs, so that we can showcase some of our great beers that we typically open for each.  Last Year’s Memorial Day Weekend tasting went very well and I wanted to make sure that we did this one even better than the previous year.  Some of the great beers that I was able to share with everyone was my Tired Hands haul from my Fantasy Hockey BIF , a growler of Bruery Berazzled sent from my buddy Matt in California and of course, my bottles of Bruery Batch 1 Levuds.  Well, the guys in the tasting group really wanted to put the screws to me and compiled a vertical of Deschutes Abyss (minus the infected bottle from 2009) along with some other great selections

I had informed the group that this tasting was kicking of at 3pm sharp…and after doing hours of yard work, I was ready to go about 10 minutes before hand.  In attendance for the tasting other than myself, my wife, my best friend T were my Beer Advocate brethren Chopko, Tom, Aaron, Brandon, Pete, Tim, and Joe.  Even though I told guys not to bring beer because we had plenty to go around, it still turned out to be an epic bottle share (and no one listened because they all showed up with extra bottles)(..but didnt go home with any).  Here were the offerings that didn’t survive the tasting…

As you can see from the line up that we went through that night, it was a marathon, not a race… 29 beers (10 from growlers), 1 mead, 18 coiled sausages and 3 hamburgers consumed.  Another great tasting…

As I gear up for the GABF next week, it is time to reflect on the previous month….and what a great month it was.  This was probably the best month I have had reviewing beers since I started doing it 15 months ago.  Between the several tastings I was priviledged to be a part of and the new places I was able to visit, life was pretty good.  So, without further adieu, let the show begin…

Top 5 Beer Review for September:

  • Goose Island Bourbon County Rare ~ American Double/Imperial Stout ~ 4.95 /5 Rating
  • Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen (3F) Armand’4Oude Gueze Lente (Spring) ~ Gueuze ~ 4.48 /5 Rating
  • New Belgium Brewing – Lips of Faith – Super Imperial Pale Ale (Alpine Collaboration) ~ American Double/Imperial IPA ~ 4.43 /5 Rating
  • Three Floyds Zes Zes Zes ~ Saison/Farmhouse Ale ~ 4.43 /5 Rating
  • Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout ~ American Double/Imperial Stout ~ 4.40 /5 Rating

Not Every Beer is a Whale, the Not Top 5 for September:

  • Sierra Nevada Brux ~ American Wild Ale ~ 3.43 /5 Rating
  • Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout ~ American Double/Imperial Stout ~ 3.28 /5 Rating
  • Innis & Gunn Independence Day 2012 ~ Scottish Ale ~ 3.25 /5 Rating
  • Hill Farmstead Clara Grisette ~ Saison/Farmhouse Ale ~ 3.25 /5 Rating
  • And your winner for the month of September wasnt…..Community Beer Works De Maas ~ Belgian Pale Ale ~ 3.13 /5 Rating

For the 61 beers I reviewed last month, almost half of them received a rating of 4.00 or more…thats a pretty solid month.  Community Beer Works are doing some great beers, but De Maas just didnt fit the bill for me.  To those of you that will be blowing up my cell phone…No, I have not come to the dark side with two stouts in my top 5 for this month, they were just solid beers and deserved their proper respect with subjectivity.  American Wild Ales all the way, baby.  Denver…look the hell out because I am coming very prepared….