Twelve beers to track down in Denver outside the Great American Beer Festival
There will be thousands of beers to sample inside the Colorado Convention Center during the Great American Beer Festival, which starts on October 11, but there will also be some very special beers served at bars, breweries and restaurants during the week before GABF.
Some of these were brewed especially for the festival, while others are only being poured in Denver for a limited time, either because of the GABF or because they've been timed to coincide with the festival. All of them are worth seeking out.
1) The Deuce
Oskar Blues/Sun King breweries
Oskar Blues and Indianapolis-based Sun King Brewing are whipping up their second collaboration beer, a "hopped-up brown" they have named, uh, the Deuce. The beer will be revealed during Great American Beer Festival week at a party at Blake Street Tavern and will likely be served inside the festival and elsewhere in town after that. It will also be sold in Alumi-Tek aluminum, resealable bottle-like cans. Oskar Blues and Sun King first got together last spring to brew Chaka, a Belgian-style pale that was released for the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego in May. To get into the Blake Street Tavern Party -- which takes place on Thursday, October 11 at 9:30 p.m. -- you need to print an invitation off of the Oskar Blues Facebook page.
2) Haven and Hale Peach Ale
To celebrate Colorado's amazing peach harvest, Odell Brewing in Fort Collins brewed a pilsner-style beer with 1,800 pounds of peaches. "That's a full peach in every growler," the brewery says. "You can almost taste the skin with every sip." Aside from at the brewery's own tap room, you can find the beer at Highland Tap & Burger on Friday, October 12, beginning at 11 a.m. during an Odell tap takeover also featuring Mountain Standard Double Black IPA, Easy St. Wheat, Isolation Ale, Myrcenary and Levity.
3) The Big Brown Rye
This beer is a collaborative project between Durango's Ska Brewing, Freshcraft and Peach Street Distillers (which has some of the same owners as Ska). A high-gravity brown with plenty of rye malt, the beer was aged aged for three months in Peach Street bourbon barrels. It will only be available at Freshcraft, where it will be tapped at a big party starting at 10 p.m. on Thursday, October 11.
4) Porter's Pride
Colorado Brewers Guild
Award-winning brewers at the Great American Beer Festival will bring home something in addition to their medals this year: a bottle of a special beer made collaboratively just for the occasion at Breckenridge Brewery by members of the Colorado Brewers Guild. A 22-ounce bottle of Porter's Pride, an imperial porter brewed with 200 pounds of dark chocolate, will be handed out to every medalist at the private awards ceremony on October 12. But regular Joes can try it, too, on tap at the restaurants and breweries owned by the Breckenridge-Wynkoop group and at the CBG booth inside GABF. Proceeds will be donated to the Danny Williams Fund. Williams, who was was the cellar master for GABF and the World Beer Cup, died earlier this year.
5) Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout
Malt, water, hops, yeast...and bull testicles. That's the recipe for the ballsiest beer that Denver's Wynkoop Brewing Company has made in its 24-year history, and one that it will start serving on October 8 during Great American Beer Festival week. Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, which started off as an April Fool's Day prank last spring, became a reality when the brewery decided to brew a beer with 25 pounds of the local delicacy, hand-sliced and then roasted. The Wynkoop describes it as "an assertive foreign-style stout, slightly viscous, with a deep brown color. It has equally deep flavors of chocolate syrup, Kahlua and espresso, along with a palpable level of alcohol and a savory umami-like note. It finishes dry and roasted with a fast-fading hop bite." You can find the beer at the Wynkoop, where the kitchen will be serving a special Rocky Mountain Oyster dish to pair with it, and also inside the Great American Beer Festival. Try it...if you have the balls.
6) Odio Equum
The latest barrel-aged sour from Avery Brewing won't be in a lot of places, nor will it be around long, but you can get a taste at Star Bar if you participate in the Pucker Up Poker Run, sponsored by Avery Brewing and the Denver Off the Wagon blog on Friday, October 12. For $45, players get a four-ounce taster of a rare sour beer from Avery at each of five locations around town, along with a six-ounce pour of an Avery "palate cleanser" to wash it down. They'll also get a playing card; the person with the best hand at the end of the day wins a prize. The beers are Odio Equum at Star Bar; Sui Generis at Falling Rock; Dihos Dactylion at Highland Tap & Burger; Bad Apple at Euclid Hall and Immitis at Lucky Pie Pizza &Tap House.
7) Grapefruit Jungle
Sun King Brewing
Hops & Pie will give you a chance to sample perhaps the largest variety of beer from Indiana's Sun King Brewing on Friday, October 12; the brewery doesn't normally distribute in Colorado, but made an exception for GABF week. You'll find Osiris Pale Ale; Velvet Fog, a Belgian quad; Cream Dream V imperial IPA; barrel-aged Oktoberfest; Grapefruit Jungle, the highly-regarded IPA; Sunlight Cream Ale; and Pink Taco, which is described as a raspberry and hibiscus sour made with a Sunlight Cream Ale base.
8) Continental Collide
Denver Beer Co/Sarnac Brewery
Denver Beer Co's brewers both went to college in upstate New York, where they spent four years drinking Saranac Brewery beer; last spring at the Savor Beer and Food event in Washington, D.C., the owners of the Saranac Brewery had a few beers with DBC owners Patrick Crawford and Charlie Berger. The result is Continental Collide, an east-meets-west collaborative effort that will be tapped at 4 p.m. on Friday, October 12. The beer, which celebrates both the Adirondacks and the Rockies, uses Colorado malted barley and rye from the foot of the Rockies along with Galena and Cascade hops raised at the base of the Adirondacks. The result is a vermilion Rye IPA with a touch of Colorado honey to compliment the citrusy New York hops.
Green Flash/Cigar City
Falling Rock Taphouse is probably the only place in town where you'll be able to taste Candela, a collaboration between these two amazing breweries. The rye barleywine will be available at 2:45 p.m. on Friday, October 12, followed at 3 p.m. by several other beers from Cigar City, which is only selling beer in Denver this week and typically doesn't distribute anywhere outside of Florida. Beers include: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, Humidor IPA, Good Gourd, Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Hunahpu's, Cucumber Saison. Cigar City beers will also be on tap this week at Freshcraft, Hops & Pie and Star Bar. Find the times and dates in Westword's Awesome Guide to GABF.
10) Burning Bush IPA
Golden Road Brewing, an upstart craft brewer that has managed to make waves in a very beery town, will release its latest canned beer, Burning Bush, at the Kitchen Denver on Thursday, October 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. But the beer -- and the one-year-old brewery -- won't be here for long, since Golden Road only distributes in Los Angeles and parts of two surrounding counties. The release is part of a special three-day series of events for Golden Road, which will also have four or five other beers on tap at the event.
11) Bourbon County Stout
Goose Island Brewing
On Tuesday, October 9, at 5 p.m. the Falling Rock Taphouse will pour one of the most celebrated -- and controversial beers -- in the country, Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout. The brew consistently rates as one of the best in the world, but the brewery itself was recently bought out by Anheuser Busch. That means that Goose Island beers will now get a much wider distribution, including in Colorado. Other Goose Island beers on tap tonight include Lolita, Juliette, Madam Rose and Bourbon County Coffee Stout.
12) White ThaIPA
Upslope Brewing/Euclid Hall
As the restaurant did last year, Euclid Hall's Ryan Conklin has teamed up with a brewery on a beer that Euclid Hall will serve during GABF week. In this case, it's a curry-themed beer called White ThaIPA that's designed to pair with chef Jorel Pierce's menu. The beer will be tapped on Wednesday, October 10, at 6 p.m. at Euclid Hall. The party will also feature some other special Upslope beers, including its Barleywine, wit and Pumpkin Ale.
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