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 through the week for survival tactics and beer recommendations from some of the breweries bringing their wares to Denver.
Lb. Brewing Co.: Hays, Kansas Q&A with Brewmaster/Founder Gerald Wyman
Gerald Wyman was a farmer and rancher before he became a brewer. He and his wife, Janet, raised a pair of daughters in Brownwell, Kansas. It wasn't until the kids left home that the two left their old lifestyle and opened a microbrewery in Hays. Lb stands for "liquid bread," which Wyman tells us is how the Germans refer to their beer, and at the Lb. Brewing Company diner, you order your brews by the 16 ounce slice.
Westword: If people only try one of your beers, which should it be? Gerald Wyman: I'd have to say the Oatmeal Stout. We got a gold for it last year and hopefully we've got something just as good this year. I've always liked an Oatmeal Stout. It's a nice evening beer, a beer to finish the night with. I've always liked the silkiness of it and the nice roasty, chocolatey flavors, I guess. And I'm awful fond of our IPA, too. I'm getting to be kind of a hop head.
WW: Other than your own, what is your favorite beer? GW: I kinda like Sierra Nevada's anniversary ale. It's a very good one. It's just 100 percent Cascade hops, it's just a nice, big IPA.
WW: What is the best thing about the Great American Beer Festival? GW: It's just a good time. It's all about beer, and you're talking to people who deal with beer, and it's good advertising. It's just fun. I really don't know what else to say. You get a chance to try the other brewers' beers and kind of compare styles, and there's a lot of people there that I've met. It's nice to visit with them again.
WW: What is the best way to avoid liver damage at this year's festival? GW: Drink a lot of water. It's very important to drink a lot of water. And just use a little common sense. You're only drinking an ounce of samples. Eat good through the festival, and basically don't overindulge. You really don't there on the floor.
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? GW: Am I going to have any food? If I have food, I'd go for the IPA, but if there was no food there I'd definitely take an Oatmeal Stout. Because there's a ton of calories in that thing. LB stands for liquid bread. That's our true liquid bread. That's what the Germans called their beer, 'liquid bread.' And the Stout -- I think that'd sustain about anybody.
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WW:What got you interested in craft beer? GW: The first micro I went to back in '97, I got very interested in it. It was just flavorful, good beer and then I started in as a home brewer and went from there. It's just all about good beer, good flavor.
WW: What prizes do you think you have a good chance of winning this year? GW: Sure, every one of them! (laughs). But that don't happen. It would be nice to have a repeat of last year. We got a bronze for our American Wheat and we hit a gold medal for our Oatmeal Stout, and I couldn't be any happier to repeat something like that. I'd be on Cloud 9.
WW: What should people know about your brewery? GW: We strive for the cleanest brewery that anybody could ever see. The equipment, the brewery and we try to be as particular as possible as far as ingredients and the process. And produce the best beer I can.