Been psyching myself up with some Public Enemy and now I’m going to try to describe the awesomeness that is GABF, the Great American Beer Festival. This was our second year to go as a brewery and my first year to attend, easily a once in a lifetime experience.
I’ll set the scene: Denver, CO. Over 5,100 feet above sea level. One of America’s craft beer meccas. 5 MHBC boys with a seemingly infinite amount of beer and beautiful country to look at. It feels like everywhere you look is a John Denver song or a quote from Dumb and Dumber, we were in heaven. All of our craft beer bros from TX were there, from our Brewery peeps over at Collective, Lakewood, Community and Panther Island to our besties over at Bearded lady (there’s not enough text on this document to mention all the awesome people we saw/met).
We drove our little minivan the 12-hour drive from Funkytown through Raton Pass in New Mexico up past the Rockies straight into the heart of beer country. After a rowdy first night over at Declaration Brewing and keeping Tony Drewery awake over at the Beerliner we awoke at the crack of noon and made our way over to the sweet greasy elixir known as hangover brunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon prepping for the first official night of the festival, setting up our booth and chatting with our amazing volunteers. Once we got it kicked off we walked around with sample cup in hand, all with a different tactic in mind. I was only having sours and stouts so that I could keep my taste buds guessing, another was having only IPAs and keeping an elaborate ranking list, the rest just looking for the weirdest beers they could find. After getting through what seemed like only 1% of the festival the first night was over, it was time for a pre-hangover last meal before we crashed for the evening in prep for our big Friday. Our dinner order went like this, “I’ll have the nachos, mozzarella sticks, calamari, 1 order of boneless wings and 2 orders of traditional wings. What do you 3 want?” Great day.
Friday was our first time outside of Denver, we were invited by one of our New Belgium buddies to go out to Fort Collins and get way to close to a bunch of important brewing equipment and be sternly reminded to not venture from the tour. This would not be the first time we got a little “adventurous” at a brew tour on our trip. We got to grab a bottle on Pumkick off the bottling line. It wasn’t handed to us, they actually let us reach in and grab the freshest bottle of Pumkick we would ever have. It really was incredible. It was here we picked up our Collective Brewing pal James and he would be with us the rest of the day. After setting a mental goal to be twice as big as New Belgium by next year we went to Odell’s and had another amazing brew tour and plenty of cool guy beers. We then ventured out to play a little frolf (Frisbee golf) under the direction of our resident “craftlete,” another amazing decision with a beautiful view. Soft, wet grass underfoot we traipsed around the countryside in friendly competition. When we finished we realized we could still hit up Oskar Blues on the way home, and away we went. This was my favorite brewery, I loved the attitude of the place and it felt a lot like home. Hashtag Life Goals. By the time we got back it was time to meet up at the Beerliner for the world’s largest beer-shotgunning meet up. We hung out with some more of our NTX friends, found some Martin House beer as it was passed through the crowd of eager shotgunners, and celebrated the best way we could with all our brethren by inhaling 12 ounces of liquid nirvana. You rule Mr. Drewery.
We arose again Saturday with the tenacity to grab our last day by the horns and get after it. So we did. But first we went to the awards ceremony and watched our NTX friends Rahr, Panther Island and 903 get medals for their beers and bring some recognition to our fine state. Congrats y’all! It was then back out to Oskar Blues to reclaim a few forgotten items, then straight to Longmont to see what Lefthand was all about. After another amazing tour we stumbled over to Avery Brewing, our last brewery of the trip. After gaining complimentary entry we decided we needed to continue on our conquest for unique beers, and we had all forgotten that Avery only has unique beers. After 2 or 3 crazy sour/barrel-aged brews apiece we went to their restaurant and had equally amazing food. Thanks again for the hospitality guys. And now that we had enough breweries for the day it was time again for frolf, this time a much easier course but a little more rocky. Much like before, no one left disappointed. Back to Denver to finish up the festival and tear down the booth, and fit in a few more beers. After the festival we headed back to the Beerliner to wish all of our friends goodbye, grabbed ourselves some burgers and a snickers ice cream and it was time to get horizontal.
After listening to Serial all the way home and discussing our various opinions on whether or not Adnan deserved to be convicted, we arrived home late Sunday and returned to our normal lives and our comfy beds. Thanks for memories GABF, can’t wait to see yall next year and eventually get to walk up on that podium and take home a medal for the homeland.