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Great American Beer Festival

GABF Day 3, Session 1 Photos

These photos were taken Saturday afternoon during the first session of the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, which was presented by the Brewers Association.

After the awards ceremony everyone headed upstairs for the first session of day three, which would have two sessions. Continue reading

2017 Great American Beer Festival Awards Ceremony Photos

These photos were taken Saturday morning at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival Awards which was held in the Mile High Ballroom at the Colorado Convention Center. The awards ceremony is the highlight of the three day event put on by the Brewers Association.

This year’s competition featured 7,923 entries from 2,217 breweries in 50 states and Washington, D.C. The competition took place in six sessions over a period of three days and was judged by 276 beer experts from 13 countries. In addition to commercial brewery entries, the judging panel also evaluated 118 Pro-Am entries. The competition was made possible with the help of 365 volunteers. Continue reading

Barrel-Aged Beer Day at GABF with Avery Brewing Company

Friday was day two of the 36th annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF), and it also happened to be Barrel-Aged Beer Day which was very convenient as I was invited to a guided beer tasting with Avery Brewing Company’s Andy Parker, the “Chief Barrel Herder” at Avery Brewing, which was held at Tap Fourteen in Denver. The press-only event featured pours from five different barrel-aged brews; Tweak, Coconut Porter, Amicitia, Ginger Sour, and Islay.

While we enjoyed the various options, Parker gave us a little background on his 10 year history of barrel aging and how when he brought up the idea of buying some barrels to Adam Avery, Avery’s response was so enthusiastic that Parker didn’t bother saying anything else, he just got the barrels and the rest is history. Continue reading

GABF Begins: Day One

These photos were taken Thursday evening at the Colorado Convention Center, where the Brewers Association is holding their 36th annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF). The event runs through Saturday.

If you have never attended GABF, think what it might be like to be a kid locked overnight in a candy factory; where would you begin? That is precisely the predicament I faced as I entered the huge venue, filled with 800 breweries pouring more than 3800 beers. In a word, it is a little overwhelming; I probably wandered around for close to 30 minutes, chatting with friends from various Southern California breweries and taking photos before I had my first beer. I did not want to spend my time drinking beer I can easily get at home, but with 800 breweries to choose from, where do you start? Continue reading

GABF 2017: The Warmups

These photos are from Wednesday in Denver as the city and I prepared for the 2017 Great American Beer Festival.

My day started at the Colorado Convention Center, where I picked up my media credentials for GABF which begins on Thursday evening. Wednesday was set aside for brewers, sponsors and media to get checked in and while I was there a pretty steady stream of participants came in to register. I could peek into the venue, but I will not be allowed in until Thursday so I did not bother trying to photograph it; instead I went looking for a beer. My first stop was Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery. Continue reading

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day 2: It was an IPA kind of day

Tuesday was day two of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and I really wanted an IPA. For those not in the know, we have been enduring a pretty bad heat wave and a couple cold beers were just what the doctor ordered. An IPA and some air conditioning would be even better. I decided to start off by heading to Long Beach for a visit to the Great American Beer Festival’s 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.

While Long Beach sounds like it would be cool, it was actually 105 degrees which was 10 more than home so the beer and air conditioning were quite welcome. When it comes to IPA’s, most locals would have to admit that it is pretty tough to beat the superb options provided by award winning head brewer Julian Shrago. Like I usually do, I opted for a flight consisting of three IPAs, Laurel, Pole Position and The Falcon which are all three fine examples of the West Coast IPA style. I finished the flight off with their Onyx Imperial Stout. In addition to their own fine brews and good food, Beachwood has a pretty amazing guest tap list. This just shows the confidence they have in their own beers. I decided to try the San Clemente IPA (Artifex Collaboration) from Pizza Port San Clemente and it was great. While Beachwood is not having any planned American Craft Beer Week events (because every week is American Craft Beer Week there) they were have a special bottle release for their Jean-Quad Van Damme Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian-Style Dark Ale that was to be held Tuesday evening. They only bottled 100 so there was a limit of one bottle per customer. While 100 bottles would not usually last very long, Beachwood only announced it on the Instagram account and I mentioned it last night on the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page so there was limited exposure. I just called and there are still some bottles left so head over and grab one; or bring a friend and grab two. Be sure to tell them Craft Beer Guy sent you. Continue reading

Taking a self-guided craft beer tour of the South Bay

I am a firm believer that if one person suggests something, there is a good chance that dozens of others are thinking the same thing. Since I have had many people tell me that I should include maps of the craft brewery tours I write about, I have decided to add a new feature, maps of the various breweries and their relationship to each other. I have decided to use MapQuest since they allow you to plug in your starting point; Google Maps seems to eliminated that feature, so we will use MapQuest until something better comes along.

These maps will be set up to show the easiest way to visit each of the breweries visited and will usually form a circular pattern so you are not bouncing around from one end of town to another and back again. I am beginning with the South Bay area of Southern California for a couple reasons. The first, and most logical, is because that is where I live. The second being that there has been such an explosion of microbreweries around here that I know people from other areas would like to know the easiest way to see all that the South Bay offers. Whenever possible, these tours will begin with one freeway close location and end with another freeway close destination. If you are a first time visitor to any of these locations I recommend a purchasing a flight so you can sample what each brewery offers,

Continue reading

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing: Best Mid-Sized Brewpub 2013

Last Wednesday, as I became increasingly jealous of the people on my Facebook feed as they announced their arrival in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), I decided to head over to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA. I had just seated myself at the bar when Beachwood General Manager Brandon Halvorson came up and said, “You just cannot stay away.” I admit, when we want lunch and a great beer, it does not take much convincing to get me to drive the 15 miles to Long Beach. Yesterday, the beer world found out why when Beachwood BBQ & Brewing won five medals at GABF, making it the 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year! I was so happy to hear this I almost felt like I was a winner. I guess all of Beachwood’s patrons are winners because we are able to enjoy their food and beer six days a week.

Beachwood won gold medals for Foam Top for the Golden or Blonde Ale category and Kilgore Stout in the American-Style Stout category. They also got silver for Udder Love (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout) and bronze medals for System of a Stout (Coffee Beer) and Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer). I guess the big surprise for me is that none of their IPAs got a medal, but it is my understanding that they had over 250 IPA entries and it took two or three days to go through them all. Be that as it may, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing has made some tremendous beers and are definitely getting the recognition they deserve; and to think they are only two years old. Congratulations to Julian Shrago, Ian McCall, Brandon Halverson and all the staff at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.

I guess it also shows that if it seems that I visit some places more than others, there is a good reason for it; the Craft Beer Guy would not steer you wrong. These photos were taken Wednesday October 9 and Saturday October 12 after the medals were announced. You can find a list of all the past and present Great American Beer Festival winners at http://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/the-competition/winners/. Cheers! Continue reading

8th Annual American Craft Beer Week, Day 7

The 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) came to an end on Sunday, but not before I got an opportunity to track down some more award winning breweries. As it happened, I had a wine festival to cover on Sunday; it was a fundraiser for a non-profit, which is why I let it cut into my beer time. Since the event was out in Santa Monica, I took advantage of my geographical location and took a break from the wine event to seek a local craft beer spot that I was unaware of. I was pretty surprised when we found Westwood Brewing Company because Westwood is a high rent area which means it had to have been there for a while; why had I never heard of it?

Turns out that Westwood Brewing Company (WBC) has been around for about 20 years, stopped brewing about 9 years ago and won some awards at local beer shows. Sadly they will be closing in August to become a crab restaurant. Not sure if they are using the kettles to boil the crabs or not. Anyway, there was no WBC beer to be had, so I had a Chainbreaker White IPA by Deschute’s (2012 GABF Silver Medal) which was perfect on the hot summer day. Not much to say about the place since they are closing other than I am sure they will be missed by the UCLA students.

Later that day we headed to Sophie’s Place in Redondo Beach. Sophie’s Place is a nice little gastropub, located in the Riviera Village section of Redondo. They have 8 rotating taps and about 50 other craft beers available in bottles and cans. It is hard to believe that I only started going there 10 months ago because it sure seems like I am there a lot. It is owned by three brothers, one of which, Bobby, is a big fan of craft beer and does some home brewing. Bobby takes pride in the beers he has available and frequently hosts events to promote our local microbreweries. For day 7 of ACBW, Bobby divided his taps between two Central California craft brewers, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company and Firestone Walker Brewing Company; both of which are GABF award winners. Since I was not ready to do a flight of eight, I opted for a 2nd Anniversary Grand Cru, a Hurricane Deck and Big Cone Black Ale from Figueroa Mountain; and a Sucaba from Firestone.

It was another fun American Craft Beer Week; I am going to have to figure out something different for next year. Continue reading

2013 American Craft Beer Week – Day 3

Stone Brewing Taps

Stone Brewing, Company Store – Pasadena

Wednesday was day three of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), and I continued my quest to visit as many Great American Beer Festival (GABF) gold medal winners from Southern California as possible. For day three we drove out to Pasadena to visit the Stone Brewing Company Store that opened the middle of last year. I have visited the location a couple times and I will admit that if I had an office job that required I commute, there would be nothing better that I can think of than to have something like the Stone Brewing store waiting for me at the end of my work day. Besides beers on tap, they offer growlers and bottles and extremely good prices. It is worth the trip.

Rated as one of the best brewers in the US and the world by two of the largest beer enthusiast websites, RateBeer and BeerAdvocate, I would be remiss if I did not include Stone Brewing in my quest for GABF award winning breweries from California. While I went to Pasadena yesterday, if you have an opportunity to visit their brewery in Escondido you should do it. Good food and great beer in a very scenic setting. It is appropriate for the entire family.

For my award winning flight I opted for a Stone Ruination IPA, a Stone Levitation Ale (2007 GABF Gold Medal), a Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale (2010 GABF Bronze Medal) and a Smoked Porter (2010 Asia Beer Award Gold Medal).

Haven Flight

Haven Gastropub Flight

After sampling at Stone for a while, we went around the corner to Haven Gastropub and Brewing. I have been there before, but as I recall they were just starting to brew on location. I had forgotten about that, but knew I could find some award winning beers on their guest tap list. As it turns out, Gastropub Brewing has a new Head Brewer, Brian Thorson, an award winning brewer formerly with Drake’s Brewing and yesterday they released his new brew, so I included it on my flight. My flight consisted of Haven Simcoded American Pale Ale, Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin (2010 & 2011 GABF Gold medal), Eel River Acai Wheat, and The Bruery White Oak. While the beers from Haven, Eel River and The Bruery were not medal winners, the breweries and brewers have won numerous awards.

All my photos from day three of the 2013 American Craft Beer Week can be found on GotBaddog.com.

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