Intro | Day 1 | Day 3
So, day 2 turned out to be all about the growing focus on beer and food and how the line between the two is blurring, as many brewers are getting into food and vice versa. The day started off with a press luncheon featuring different beers from around the country paired with several dishes. The meal was delicious as was the beer. I’ll share the menu with you here:
Welcome Beer: (Yes there was a welcome beer. Perks of going as press)
Taps Fish House & Brewery (Brea, CA) – Belgian White
Roasted Carpaccio Beet Salad with Fennel, Green Apples, Goat Cheese, and Bacon served with Vinaigrette
Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen (Bellingham, WA) – Vienna Lager
McKenzie Brew House (Malvern, PA) – Saison Vautour
Grains of Paradise Seared Lamb Loin, Ginger Forbidden Rice with Apricots and Cranberries
Nebraska Brewing Co. (Papillion, NE) – Melange A Trois
Devils Backbone Brewing Co. (Roseland, VA) – Danzig
Pumpkin Bread Pudding topped with Ska Ten Pin Porter Caramel Sauce and Lefthand ESB Ice Cream
Barley Brown’s Brew Pub (Baker City, OR) – Turmoil
Rock Bottom Breweries (La Jolla, CA) – Moonlight
American Artisan Cheese Plate:
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company – Original Blue and Toma
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – Flagsheep,
Cowgirl Creamery – Mt. Tam
Pagosa Brewing Co. (Pagosa Springs, CO) – Pagosa Pale
Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon (North Olmstead, OH) – Head Hunter IPA
Freetail Brewing Co. (San Antonio, TX) – Bandito
After the luncheon we headed out for a tour of local Colorado breweries. Perhaps the highlight of that trip was a stop at Strange Brewing Co., which is a new brewery in Denver located in the middle of an industrial area where you would never think to find a brewery. Think Brooklyn Brewery circa 1996, except in an industrial strip mall. It is a tiny brewery with a bar in front and a three-barrel system in the rear. Yes, three barrels – and even that small capacity is due to a recent expansion. The brewery was reminiscent of the early days of craft brewing due to the fact that much of their equipment was either custom-built or repurposed dairy equipment. Their mash tun was an old dairy separator, and two of their fermenting tanks had been hand built. These were all hand-me-downs from older breweries that had once used them to get started; so in effect, this is the first generation of craft brewers, all grown up, supporting the second-generation siblings. We tried their 7 Barrel Saison, the Fresh Hopped Pale Ale, and their Cherry Bomb, which was created due to a mistake in their attempt to brew a normal cherry beer. They lost a lot of water to evaporation when adding the cherries, and the resulting brew was quite a bit stronger than they had planned on. However, it was so popular that they keep making it. All three beers were delicious, and I recommend a trip to the brewery if you are ever in Denver.
Luckily the third session made up nicely for that, as it featured Oskar Blues. Most people know Oskar Blues from their popular canned beer, Dale’s Pale Ale. They were the first craft brewery to can beer back in 2002, and now well over 100 breweries are canning beer. The brewer owns a brewpub, has recently purchased a farm and is now taking the merger between beer and food to its next logical step by creating a complete cycle between brewery, farm, and restaurant. The session illustrated this by pairing vegetables and beef raised on the farm (using spent grain and grey water from the brewery) with their HGH Double Dry Hopped Strong Ale. The HGH is made with hops grown on their farm so that everything we tasted in the session had been growing on the farm just a few weeks ago. The dish was amazing, and the beer was also spectacular. Sustainable, locally produced food and beer are big topics on Urban Oyster’s tours and I have been inspired by my experiences at the festival to produce a more detailed post about different practices around the country being used by brewers to enhance the sustainability of their production. That post will be coming in the next month or so.
By the end of day 2, my stomach and liver were both maxed out and I went to bed happy and very, very full.
Stay tuned for our last blog post about our experience at GABF tomorrow. For questions or comments about this blog post, please contact Andrew Gustafson or leave a comment. If you would like to follow this blog, subscribe to our RSS feed or sign up for the Urban Oyster email newsletter. All photos courtsey Dave Naczycz.