Monday, November 10, 2008

2008 All Colorado Beer Festival highlights

One of the last regular season beer fests in Colorado is held down in Colorado Springs. For the second straight Veterans Day weekend, the 2008 All Colorado Beer Festival was celebrated at the Mr. Biggs Event Center. I had missed this event last year and was determined to get down to it this year. Last year there were at least 20 Colorado breweries in attendance. This year was going to be even bigger.

I had never been down to the Mr. Biggs Event Center. When I looked up the facility on Google, I noticed that it was part of a large amusement complex. Half of the complex was made for children! OK, I wondered how they would keep the kids from raiding the kegs. I mistakenly went into the main family entrance and wandered around looking for the beer fest. I found a sign pointing to the Events Center and followed it to a small open door. I peaked in and found the beer festival, only problem was, the festival hadn't opened yet and I was essentially sneaking in the wrong door.

It didn't take long for security to notice me and politely escorted me to the Events Center main door where they kindly put me first in line right outside the door. Well at least I wouldn't have to wait long in line when the doors opened. Heh. All tickets were either sold online or at the door. You'd save $5 if you bought in advance which is exactly what I did. I just had to check in at Will Call to claim my entry.

The event room reminds me of an old Western town. There were mock building fronts lining the walls and all of the breweries were at tables along the boundaries of the room. The first people I noticed there were Eli Shayotovich and Erik Boles of They were a 1st time sponsor of the event and they had a booth set up complete with live video on their laptops and a mini-studio set up for doing interviews. After shooting the bull with the boys for a while I headed to the tables for some beers.

While I didn't count all of the breweries in attendance, I was told by Ed Sealover at the Beer Run Blog that this year's brewery count had grown from 20 to 24 breweries. Among the breweries that I took notice of these were the ones in attendance this year:

Anheuser-Busch, Backcountry Brewery, Odell Brewing, Bristol Brewing, Boulder Beer, Arctic Craft Brewery (now closed), Left Hand Brewing, Oskar Blues, Ska Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery, Glenwood Canyone Brewpub, Durango Brewing, Rocky Mountain Brewery, Trinity Brewing, Twisted Pine Brewing, Del Norte Brewing, New Belgium, Rock Bottom Brewery (Colorado Springs), Trinidad Brewing, MillerCoors, Steamworks Brewing, Phantom Canyon, McClellan's Grill and Brewing, and Blue Moon Brewing Company. That's 24 by my count.

Being true to my beer geekiness, I brought along a log book and my trusty Flip Mino video camera to record everything I did. My philosophy is, if I don't record it, I'm not going to remember it the next day. And man, I'm glad I brought them along. I tasted nearly 30 beers that day and jotted down a line or two about every one of them. Here are a few of my tasting highlights:

Bristol Brewing - Winter Warlock. I've heard a lot about this beer but had never tried it until now. Nice roasted malt taste. I asked about their XXX Winter Warlock and was told they will never make that again - was too difficult and too costly.

Trinity Brewing - Farmhouse Saison. One of the newest breweries from Colorado Springs. I tried their new Saison. OMG what's in this? It had White Sage, Corriander, Lavender, Grains of Paradise, Pumpkin and a boat load of Brown Sugar. The aroma was dominated by the sage. Sweet, spicy, very unique and not bad. Also tried their Awaken stout. Not bad.

Twisted Pine - Northstar Imperial Porter. This was one of the few decent seasonals that I saw breweries bring along. I applaud Twisted Pine for not just bringing their typical line. This porter was excellent. Roasty with a different kind of finish. Also had their Cream Stout which is only available in their variety 12-pack. Got one at home still from mine.

Trinidad Brewing - Wee Heavy Lassie Scottish Strong Ale. Ever since the GABF, I've really gotten to like Scottish style strong ales. This one was very malty and sweet with the typical Scotch effect. Very good.

Blue Moon - Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale. I don't know why I can't seem to pass up a Pumpkin Ale. This one was spicy but did not remind me of a pumpkin pie like others of this style do. It was OK but was hoping for better.

Rocky Mountain Brewery - Rump Romper Raspberry Cyder. Classic. What a name. Even the label showed a beautiful scantily clad lady. This was a hard cider, an exception to be found at a beer fest. Very tart and tasty. A good palate cleanser. I absolutely loved this. I've become a hard cider fan this past month or so.

Arctic Craft Brewery - Patientia Sour. I finally found a Colorado brewery besides New Belgium that brought a nice sour ale. Wow! This brew was a cloudy orange and was aged in wood for 9 months. Very tart, sour, funky and damn good. I voted this my best find of the session by far. I went back for 2nd's and 3rd's on this stuff. Excellent. They also had a Milk Stout with a nice roasty aroma. Was quite the shock going from a sour to a stout. It wasn't a good transition.

Rock Bottom - Russian Imperial Stout. See a trend here? There were a lot of good dark beers at this brew fest. I skipped these at the GABF and wasn't going to pass them up here. Strong 8% ABV, nice bite and decent RIS.

I could go on but this blog entry is already long. They had a live band going and while they were good, they were also a bit too loud for decent conversation to take place.

I applaud the volunteers and staff for running a great show. I was only slightly disappointed that some of the breweries here had very little presence and impact. And I was even more disappointed that there were some notable no shows: Great Divide, Bull & Bush, Fort Collins Brewery, Crabtree Brewing, Estes Park Brewery and others. I think it would be a much better brew fest if more of those breweries had been in attendance.

I'm already looking forward to next year. Hopefully there will be even more people show up. There were only about 250 people show for the Saturday afternoon session and 500 people for the Friday night session. Not sure how many showed for Saturday night. Stay tuned for video coverage of this festival. Should have some footage compiled later this week.

Continue reading: Video tour of the All Colorado Beer Fest.

Volunteers needed for the 2009 ACBF!

Related articles:
- Celebrating anniversary at the GABF.
- Rocky Mountain Brewfest 2008.
- Odell Small Batch Beer Festival 2008.

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