Thursday, October 6, 2011

Final 2011 GABF tastings and recommendations

2011 GABF Strange Brewing BoothThis was to be a night to remember! The 2011 GABF is now starting to be a fading memory and before it's too long gone I wanted to share my tasting notes on what I thought were some hits and misses of this year's festival.

I went tasting on Thursday night only and worked the other three sessions. While I was volunteering I purposely didn't drink much, so much of my notes on beers came from Thursday night or the beers that were at my table during Friday and Saturday.

I volunteered Friday at the Thirsty Dog Brewing booth from Akron, OH. They had 5 beers, only 4 of which were kept in stock unfortunately. For both sessions of Saturday, I poured beers exclusively at the Brooklyn Brewery booth and worked side-by-side with Garrett Oliver (what a classy guy). I ended up getting a copy of his book, The Oxford Companion to Beer, as a gift from the Brewery for all of my "hard" work. They were extremely busy and I ended up working non-stop two straight sessions. I was dog tired after Saturday.

Instead of writing down my notes this year, I took video notes of practically every beer I tasted. While this may or may not have ended up saving me time for this write-up, at least I had live comments from the moment I tried the beer. Some comments worked well, and for others I found myself at a lack of words to describe some of the beers. The following notes were gleamed from my videos and rated on a scale of 1 (*) to 5 (*****) stars with 5 being the best. Here we go...

Tasting Notes from Thursday night's session

Most Unusual Beer: By far it had to be - Mangalitsa Pig Porter from Right Brain Brewery - made with whole pig heads. Meaty & smokey was a good way to describe this, and I don't mean bacony either. Porter or no, this had too much meat flavor for my liking. **

Best Beer: For me, it had to be Brain of the Turtle from Trinity Brewing Company of Colorado. It had an OMG super tart sour taste and oh so powerful! I wanted a full bottle of this stuff. *****!!!

New Glarus Raspberry Tart - hit this brewery up 1st thing - good as always, sweet and tart and very well made. ****

Dogfish Head Urkontinent - Waddleseed, African green rooibos, Myrica Gale, Amarenth, Belgian dark candy syrup, and honey. Roasty, floral and chewy with a unique taste of astringency, hazelnut, coffee and chocolate due to the odd mix of ingredients. ***

Elysian Brewing Great Pumpkin - spicy, sharp and heavier pumpkin taste than most pumpkin beers. ***

Russian River Sanctification - a bit tart, light in color like a pilsner, not too sweet. Excellent. ****

Full Sail Imperial Stout - roasty, thick, chocolate, coffee. Excellent! ****

Shorts Brewing Whiskey Sour - sour, aged in whiskey barrel, quite tart, semi-sweet, citrus and alcohol nose, good. ***

Cigar City Hunahpu Imperial Stout - so very roasty, lot of chocolate overtones, thick, chewy, love it! *****!!

Troeg's Flying Mouflan - Barleywine - very strong alcohol, high maltiness, tasted aged already, a bit mellowed. **

Nodding Head Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse - not as sour as others can be, mild, yet tasty and something I could drink all night. ***1/2

Strange Brewing Cherry Kriek - very sweet, nice cherry aroma, slightly tart, mild alcohol, very well balanced. ***

Gunnison Brewery Superbia - Belgian Golden - brewer rep actually grabbed my glass as I was waiting for another brewery and poured it in without me asking for it (pushy!) - a bit spicy from the yeast, almost like a saison, a bit floral, OK. **

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse Farmer's Daughter - Oktoberfest style - a tasty variety, yet nothing outstanding. Still very respectable. ***

Odell Brewing Bourbon Barrel Stout - strong kick, roasty, very tasty, nice woody/bourbon overtones from barrel, awesome. ****

Avery Brewing Immitus - barrel-aged sour - very tart, hits you with sour right up front, one of the best! *****

CAUTION: Brewing Honey Matrimony - dark, roasty, wild flower honey, touch of sweetness. Good. ***

CAUTION: Brewing Loa Wang Lager - asian spiced lager, unique and tasty, slightly sweet. Nice. ***

Uncle Billy's Brew & Cue Hop Zombie - very hoppy taste, strong hop aroma, quite good! ***

Bell's Brewery Le Pianiste - countryside saison - very unremarkable, merely ok. 1st bland Bell's I've ever seen. *

Weasel Boy Brewing Barrel Aged Cherry Stout - mild cherry and roast aroma, not very robust, lighter tasting than most, can't pick up much wood, pretty average. **

Seabright Brewery Golden Sour - play on words? Light yellow color, very nice sour nose, real good tart/sour taste. ***

Elliot Bay Brewing Bourbon Barrel Pumpkin Ale - an excellent surprise beer, bourbon/pumpkin flavor, stronger than most with a kick! Highly recommended. ****

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja - what more can I say, one of my favorite sours, can't go wrong with this sour standard. ****

Hoppin' Frog - Frog's Hallow Double Pumpkin Ale - Wow! Double is correct, so much intense pumpkin taste, strong alcohol, pumpkin spices, very tasty, one of the best pumpkins. ****

High Noon Saloon & Brewery - Sex Bomb Chocolate Raspberry Stout - gimmicky name got me to try it, pretty average, slightly sweet, not that good, meh. *

Wynkoop Brewing Frambozen Quadrupel - barrel-aged sour ale, nice raspberry tartness, limited season and quite well worth it! ****

Odell Brewing Mountain Standard Double Black IPA - very hoppy, with big citrus nose. Excellent blend of dark malts and bitterness. ****

Maui Brewing Imperial Coconut Porter - strong powerful taste, save this one for late in the session, overwhelm taste buds, big coconut nose, roasty, very good! ****

Pizza Port Scotch Ale - a bit sweet, very malty, just a bit of hoppiness, distinctive Scotch ale trait. Nice brew to finish the evening with. ***

Thirsty Dog Barrel Aged Siberian Night - a dark roasty and powerful Russian Imperial Stout. This beer always got a big reaction from everyone who sampled it including me. Very nice. ****

Thirsty Dog Cerberus - A strong Belgian Trippel, light colored, huge Belgian nose, semi-sweet but tasty. ***1/2

Brooklyn Brewery Black Ops - poured this myself while volunteering, dark, rich, powerful, chocolate, molasses, coffee, damn good. ****

Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace - a nice light colored Saison with champagne yeast and bubbles that wouldn't stop. Nice taste from the Sorachi Ace hops, not overpowering. Decent for a saison. ***

Brooklyn Brewery The Concoction - a unique spiced beer based on a tonic mixed drink recipe. Hard to describe other than to say - very interesting. **1/2

Your turn:

There you have it. Did you try any of the same brews I did? Would you agree with my ranking? What were some of your absolute favorites or misses? Please consider posting a comment below or post a comment on the Facebook wall.

Related articles:
- 10 ways to make the GABF even better.
- 2011 GABF Opening Night Photos.
- Heading out for the 2011 GABF.

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