Tuesday, October 22, 2013

a weekend at gabf - day 1

The Stay Hoppy Team
By Matt Abendschein

It's been almost two weeks since GABF and I can honestly say I don't think I have fully recovered. No, not from the copious amounts of delicious craft beer, but from the high. There was an amazing energy during that weekend that can not be described. There's just something about thousands of people gathering together for one common interest, but it's even better when that common interest is craft beer. There's already something intrinsically communal to beer, but give it a mountainous backdrop in a city with some amazing food and it becomes magical.

Day 1

Upon arrival, Carlos and I checked into our four star hostel. A glitch in their check-in process delayed us from actually seeing our room so we ditched our luggage with the front desk and proceeded to the GABF media luncheon which just happened to be on the 38th floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in their Pinnacle Room. My first official GABF beer was a Gooseberry Gose from Fitger's Brewhouse out of Duluth, MN. While the beer did not actually have any gooseberry in it, it was still a deliciously refreshing beer and a damn good one to start off with.

Beer with a view
Luncheon Menu

After a couple of those and some quick mingling with Bitch Beer and An Avenue, we proceeded into the dining hall for a spectacular meal paired with some even more amazing craft beer and a quick talk from the legendary Charlie Papazion.

Media Luncheon Featured Breweries

Charlie Papazion

Everything was delicious, but the standouts for me were the Blue Mountain Local Species, a Belgian strong pale, with the short rib and both the Logdson Seizoen Bretta, a farmhouse ale with brett, and Elysian The Great Pumpkin, an imperial pumpkin, with the pumpkin mousse cake. The Seizoen Bretta and that pumpkin mousse cake should be on a menu somewhere, it was quite the mind blowing pairing. Unfortunately, Daniel did not get to come to the media luncheon with Carlos and me as his plane didn't land in time. However, he did get to check into the hostel before us and he got to see our room. To our surprise, we got a text that read just two words:

'Holy shit.'

It's a good thing we weren't going to be spending much time there!

After the media luncheon, Carlos and I were going to meet Daniel at a GABF favorite hangout, the Falling Rock Taphouse. However, on the way there, we made a quick detour to The Beerliner bus which was of course offering free Texas craft beer thanks to Tony Drewery (@beerpedeler). When we got there, Tony offered us some cans for Shotgun Friday, a tradition of shotgunning a beer or two on Friday led by none other than Tony. What a sweet sweet welcoming that was! Once the cans were demolished, Peticolas was on its last keg and Community was right behind them so we of course endulged in free Texas craft beer for a bit while Daniel finally met up with us.

After a couple more beers from Community, we headed off to Falling Rock Tap House just a block up the road. The place was packed full of people so getting a beer was about as quick as Droopy telling a story. Here, I enjoyed a Seven Day Sour from Trinity Brewing Co., a wonderfully dank and earthy sour that would have paired amazingly with some stinky French cheese.

The hour was finally approaching us. The hour in which a hoard of beer nerds flock to booths full of craft beer like dwarves flock to jewels. It's an amazing sight.

It's quite funny actually how much the GABF sessions reminded me of Las Vegas. Not the glitz and glamour, but the sounds. If you've been to Vegas, you know there are two distinct sounds: the slot machines and paper hitting hands (the guys handing out porno ads on the strip). Well, GABF is kind of like that. There are two very distinct sounds to GABF as well: the ocean (being inside, the acoustics made the whole place sound like an ocean) and people yelling 'OHHHHH!' after the dropping of a sampling cup. You'd be surprised how many times this happens but after about the 100th time it began to drive me crazy. Hold onto your freaking cups people! Someone even tried to bat mine out of my hand just for the 'OHHHHH!' reaction but to their surprise I always have a death grip on my beer cup. Joke's on you.

Anyway, the actual GABF sessions were surprisingly a lot of fun. I was skeptical, I'm not going to lie. I thought it would be a little, well, boring to just go booth to booth trying different beers. However, a combination of great entertainment via drunkards, great beer, great people and great friends, the sessions were a blast. It was damn near impossible to keep track of all the beer we drank, especially when we kept losing Daniel (we seriously needed a leash on this one).

See why?

Standouts for me at the actual GABF sessions:
New Glarus Serendipity
Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze
New Holland Dragon's Milk (and Reserve w/ peppers)
Anything from Jolly Pumpkin
Almanac Dogpatch Sour
All of the Texas beers of course!

If you can't tell, I gravitated towards sours this trip.

After the session ended, another trip to the Beerliner was in order with Hops & Grain now pouring. At this point, I really don't recall what I drank, but I do know I ended the night early at midnight by going back to the hostel while Daniel and Carlos went on to another bar (read their stories coming soon).

Day 2 is full of food, more beer (brewpubs!) and peeps passing out under beds. Read more tomorrow!

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