The Great American Beer Festival, the nation's largest, staggers into the Colorado Convention Center this weekend. Last year, 46,000 attendees sampled nearly 3,000 beers, and this year's Fest is already sold out. Check Cafe Society all week for survival tactics and beer recommendations from some of the breweries bringing their wares to Denver.
Flying Dog Brewery: Frederick, Maryland Q&A with Senior Vice President of Brewing Operations Matt Brophy
George Stranahan opened Flying Dog Brewery in Aspen in 1990. He won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival the following year for Doggie Style Pale Ale, and the brewery has been a festival mainstay ever since. Ralph Steadman illustrates all Flying Dog labels, and the brewery fought a successful five-year campaign against the state of Colorado to allow the slogan "Good Beer. No Shit." to appear on the label of its Road Dog Scottish Porter. Flying Dog opened a second location in Frederick, Maryland, in 2006 and moved all operations there in January 2008. Currently, Flying Dog produces 50,000 barrels of beer each year.
Westword: If people only try one of your beers, which should it be? Matt Brophy: Doggie Style Pale Ale. Everyday drinking beer. It's got great hops, great balance. It's not too big -- you can drink more than one.
WW: Other than your own, what is your favorite beer? MB: There's a small brewery in Pennsylvania called Troegs, and they have a hopback amber. I really like that beer.
WW: What is the best thing about the Great American Beer Festival? MB: This is THE beer festival. There are more breweries here than at any other festival in the country. I think the energy of the festival is pretty unique and special. When people drop their cups, everybody starts screaming.
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WW: What is the best way to avoid liver damage at this year's festival? MB: It's always good to eat, stay hydrated. I think people coming in from out of town need to stay hydrated, pace themselves, eat some greasy food. Maybe go to bed afterwards and not go out to bars like everybody does.
WW: Which beer are you most excited to try at the Festival? MB: The first one is New Glarus Belgian Red. I'm not a big fan of fruit beer, but that's an amazing beer. There's a brewery called the Jolly Pumpkin, and he does a great job. It's all wood-aged beer, and we don't get it in this area.
WW: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be? MB: I'd probably go with the Doggy Style Pale Ale. You can drink it all day long. I'm drinking one right now, actually.