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Crooked Stave will host fest for breweries left out of GABF

Update: Crooked Stave owner Chad Yakobson says the What the Funk festival isn't intended to compete directly with GABF, but is merely a way for some of the breweries who were on the festival waitlist -- or who don't make enough beer to serve in the hall -- to be able to show off their products in Denver. "There is nothing vindictive about it," he tells Westword. "The Brewers Association knows all about it."

Find the rest of his comments below included in the story below:

The fallout from the great brewery-registration fiasco of 2013 has begun.

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, which was one of several hundred breweries that weren't able to register for the Great American Beer Festival last month, is planning its own festival -- one that will take place at the exact same time as GABF and include several high-profile breweries that won't be pouring on the floor of the Colorado Convention Center when the nation's biggest beer fest comes to town October 10-12.

Appropriately titled What the Funk?! -- which was the reaction that many breweries had on July 9 when they weren't able to register for the main event -- the fest will take place on Friday, October 11, from 6 to 10 p.m., at the same time as the GABF session.

See also: More than 300 breweries sit on the GABF waiting list as organizers sort out what to do

It will feature barrel-aged, wild, sour and funky beers from around thirty breweries, including Cascade, Yazoo, Jester King, Prairie Artisan Ales, Ale Apothecary, Perennial Artisan Ales, Block 15, Side Project and Widmer.

"This is a barrel-aged and sour beer festival, just like Avery's Sourfest, that happens to be taking place at the same time as GABF," says Crooked Stave owner Chad Yakobson. "We want to show off some of the smaller breweries that don't have enough beer to pour at GABF."

In other words, some of the breweries wouldn't have entered their beers into GABF anyway, he explains. Yakobson says some of the breweries are participating as a favor to him and that he is able to host the festival because of Crooked Stave's newly-formed distribution arm which can pay these breweries to bring out their beer.

Although Crooked Stave eventually did make it into the festival, some of the other breweries listed above did not -- and many, like Jester King and Prairie, voiced their displeasure about the situation to the Brewers Association via social media channels.

"It's frustrating because, as far as we are concerned, breweries like Crooked Stave and Jester King and Cascade and ourselves are ones that people are wanting to come see at GABF. The work we are doing is exciting," says Chase Healey, the co-founder and brewmaster at Prairie Artisan Ales, an Oklahoma-based gypsy brewery that makes its beers at other locations and has garnered a lot of buzz over the last year.

"We all have a pretty big following of people who want to try our products, and they will have to come to this event to do it," he adds. "It's kind of funny that so many of these breweries that aren't going fall into a more artisan category. I guess we are all small breweries where we don't have people who are all-hands on deck."

Also signed on for the Crooked alternative: Gigantic Brewing, the Bruery, AC Golden, Evil Twin, de Garde, Oakshire, the Commons and Denver's Hogshead (which is pouring at GABF, but didn't register in time to also include beers for judging).

Brewery registration for GABF sold out within two hours in July, taking the Brewers Association and many would-be attendees and longtime participants by surprise. At the end of the day, there were about 650 brewers registered for the competition.

Some of the 300-plus breweries that were wait-listed eventually made it in as well, but only onto the floor of the festival where they can pour beer, but not have their creations judged. Since then, the BA has announced a new process for 2014, in which it will accept any brewery that registers for judging, although not for pouring.

But that won't help breweries like Yazoo and Prairie, who would still like to showcase their beers in Denver or had planned to be here already.

Healey says he spent July 9 brewing and figured he'd register in the evening, but quickly learned that GABF registration had sold out. "It was kind of mind-blowing," he says, and although he is frustrated that some breweries with multiple locations have multiple tables, he also understands how strong the demand is to attend.

"You look at any situation, and there are probably always ways to be better. I guess that crazy part is that even if there were a couple of hundred more spots available, it still would have been a big issue," he adds.

To add to What the Funk's "hip factor," the event -- taking place at the Sherman Street Event Center -- will be catered by Jensen Cummings, a certified Cicerone, beer lover and owner of the Slotted Spoon in Denver. Tickets, which are a whopping $80, go on sale at 10 a.m. on September 3.


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