Great American Beer Festival 2006

Once again we are going to the GABF. Like last year James Spencer and I are heading to Denver to cover the GABF for his podcast Basic Brewing Radio. We have made contacts and scheduled interviews with some famous names in the brewing world. This year should be even better than last years GABF which was a blast. I plan on blogging and snapping photos with my phone along the way. Come along if you like...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday in the mile high city

We moved to the Hyatt Convention Center today to be closer to the event. Wow this place is really nice. Flat screen TVs in the elevator, flat screens in the room, heck flat screens on the wall outside the hotel. The folks at the Hyatt really like flat panels! Our room is on the 32nd floor, and we have a very nice view of the city and the mountains off to the west. We went to a media event put on by the Brewer's Association, where they had several things planned for us. First they had a panel of experts talking about pairing food with beer - specifically pairing beer with the traditional American Thanksgiving meal of turkey or ham and stuffing along with pumpkin pie for dessert. They gave us two beers to sample as we ate a small sample of these foods. The first was Dogfish Head's Raison D'Etre and the second was New Belgium's Trippel. They where correct; those beers did go well with the turkey and ham. After that they had us do a mix-and-match taste test, where they gave us three beers numbered 1, 2, and 3. All the beers where about the same color to make the test a little more difficult. Then they brought us the same three beers, but this time they has the letters A, B, and C on them. We tasted them again and had to indicate which numbers went with which letters. This was a bit harder than it might sound. One beer was clearly different from the other two. But, the other two were much more similar. I'm happy to report that James, Brian and I got a perfect score and got some little pins that say "Master Beer Taster" on them. The last presentation they had for us was an example of how a judging round is conducted at the GABF. This was very interesting to me. I have judged beers in homebrewing contests, and they do it very differently for the GABF. In homebrewing contests they usually use a point system, but here they don't. They do read the style guideline at the start of the round, but every judge is a professional brewer, so they are expected to know the styles pretty well. The stewards bring out all beers in the flight, and they quietly tasted each one and make notes. Then they work as a group and eliminate the beers with flaws or don't fit the style. When the group agrees to eliminate a beer, they all pour it out in a bucket at the center of the table. When they have only three beer left, they are done, and the last three beers move on to he next round. While we were at the media event, we got to spend some time with John Palmer, the author of "How To Brew". James had met John before and has had him on his podcast. John is a terrific guy and is an incredibly knowledgeable brewer. The first edition of his book is available online for those who would like to check it out. After the media event, we hung out in our room and chatted with John until time for the "Get back to your roots" Mead tasting event put on by our friends at Redstone Meadery. There where so many meads to taste - sweet ones, dry ones, meads with fruit, meads with spice - it was incredible. After trying all those wonderful meads I think I will have to make some mead again this fall.

Until tomorrow cheers-


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