Friday, October 12, 2012

Getting some exercise pre-GABF

Walking Denver during GABFDrinking beer and walking 4 miles right before the #GABF may not sound like a good idea, but hoofing it on the cheap around Denver takes some doing. Call it building up some sweat equity and burning some calories. Prior to the Thursday session of the 2012 Great American Beer Festival, I decided to take it to the streets in downtown Denver not only to visit a few favorite spots, but to also get a short workout prior to the evenings big session.

I arrived early afternoon in Denver and had a few hours to burn before hitting the Thursday night session. I knew of a few favorite spots along Blake Street that I wanted to visit and decided that walking would be a good way to get some exercise and allow me to walk off a couple of beers at the same time. I had targeted three places: Wynkoop Brewing Company on 18th Street, Falling Rock Tap House and River North Brewery on Blake Street. As the eagle flies, that's a mile from the Convention Center to the furthest point, but as the beer blogger walks, that turns into more like 3+ miles total effort round trip.

First off, yes, I do know about the free shuttle bus along the 16th Street Mall, but no, I didn't want to cheat myself out of some exercise. It took me about 15 minutes to walk from the Convention Center to Wynkoop Brewing Company on 18th Street. It was a fairly easy effort and didn't have to cross too many busy streets.

Wynkoop Rocky Mountain Oyster StoutOnce at Wynkoop's I knew immediately what I wanted to try - their new Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. Yup, the one made with bull testicles. I've had Rocky Mountain Oysters before (battered and fried) and didn't think that there would be much taste added to a beer, especially a stout.

The beer arrived in a medium sized snifter glass ($6 by the glass). It was dark, poured with little to no head, and smelled just like a stout should - roasty. And the taste? You wouldn't even know there were bull ball essence in this brew. Rich, roasty, hint of smoke - but no bull aftertaste.

I had two more stops to go, so right after that sampling I headed back up 18th to Blake Street and headed northeast a few blocks to Falling Rock Tap House. I expected to see a crowd here and was not disappointed to see the place bursting with craft beer fans.

The outside patio was packed as was the interior. It took me a good 15 minutes to get to the bar and obtain a beer. I noticed they had the new Prost WeiƟbier on tap and wanted to try my first Prost beer. The beer was listed at $5 a pint. It poured orange and cloudy, just as a good German hefeweizen should.

By then, it was getting to be around 3:30pm and I had just about 90 minutes left before my media pass would get me into the festival hall. I enjoyed the big banana and wheat aroma of this beer and polished the majority of it off in just a few minutes. With a big crowd and no place to sit, I figured to move along as fast as possible.

Rivery North BreweryMy last stop was going to be River North Brewery which opened its doors earlier this year. They built their business in the old Flying Dog location a few blocks past Coors Field. The tasting room was surprisingly not crowded and I had no problem finding a seat and ordered a sampler of two different beers.

The first was their "Hello, Darkness Black IPA". This was a tasty brew with a lot of roast and a healthy hop bitterness. The taster glass was just the perfect size for trying out a new brew.

The second taster beer I ordered was their Quandary Quad that was aged in a Stranahan's whiskey barrel. Oh my! That was a powerful brew with a nice bourbony aroma and very smooth. That was my favorite brew of my walking tour.

I chatted with the friendly staff and they invited me back into the brewhouse and showed me around. Back there I met the owner Matt Hass and some of his crew. He showed me his brew system and fermenters and talked about how business has been since their opening. I couldn't help but notice the nice collection of wooden barrels that they were accumulating. I look forward to sampling more barrel-aged brews in the future.

By then, it was 4:30pm and I wanted to be back at the Convention Center by 5:00pm. So I said my goodbyes to River North and started heading back. I walked at a pretty darn good pace on the way back, only stopping at corners for traffic and glacing side to side at the other spots I didn't have time for: Breckenridge Colorado Craft, Blue Moon at the Sandlot, and the Blake Street Tavern. I did manage to snap some pics of them as I went.

Luckily, I made it back to the convention center at 4:50pm - huffing and puffing and with a bead of sweat around my forehead. Whew! Having a few brews and walking briskly does work raise your heart rate, especially at 5280 feet.

While I'm due to head back down there again this afternoon, I don't believe I'll be as adventurous as I was on Thursday. I was very tired by the end of the 1st GABF session and it took me a while to get back home in Greeley, CO later that night.

Related articles:
- Thursday Night at the 2012 GABF in Pictures.
- Falling Rock Tap House 2012 GABF Events.
- GABF Week List of Events and Links.

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