The organizers of the Great American Beer Festival have released the list of more than 3,000 beers that will be poured at the Colorado Convention Center over the next three days. And while that's a lot of brews to choose from, there are a few unusual and/or interesting items offered by Colorado breweries that you should try. Some are hard to get at any other time — even for Colorado residents — while others have a news or novelty value that give them some cachet. And when you're done sampling these, move on to Westword's list of eight non-Colorado breweries to try at GABF as well.
Cannonball Creek, founded by two former Mountain Sun brewers, has quickly risen to become one of Colorado's favorite spots for hoppy — and otherwise delicious — beers (see Colorado Brewers Guild, below). It won two GABF medals the year it was founded in 2013, and another last year. This year, try Black 28, E.B.C., Featherweight Pale Ale, Not Mindbender and Project Alpha #4.
Speaking of hoppy beers, Comrade has also made a name and a reputation for itself with Superpower IPA and several other hop-centric wonders, including a fresh-hopped version of Superpower, which won a silver medal at GABF last year. Both of those beers will be back, along with Honeyman IPA, Moneypenny and Yellow Fever.
Black Bottle Brewery
Black Bottle struck up a loose relationship with cereal giant General Mills last year after a story about the brewery buying out three supermarket's worth of Count Chocula went viral. Since then, Black Bottle, which makes several cereal-inspired brews, has gotten plenty of attention for its Cerealiously series — and you can try the Count Chocula version at its GABF booth.
This year Avery will pull out all the stops, literally, when it pours some of its widely-acclaimed barrel-aged beers directly from wooden tables throughout GABF. Some of the beers you'll find — beers that Adam Avery himself will pour for you — include Rumpkin, Pumpkyn and Tweak, along with several sours, like Ill Dolia, Fotuna and Tectum et Elix.
The Black Project
A side venture of Former Future Brewing owners James and Sarah Howat, the Black Project consists only of beers that were fermented from yeast floating in Denver's mile-high air. These spontaneously fermented brews are made in the tradition of Belgian lambics. Former Future won a bronze metal for one of them last year; the brewery will have five on tap at its booth in 2015.
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Dad & Dudes Breweria
Don't worry, Sativa IPA won't get you high — or maybe we should say, don't be bummed? But it will almost certainly cause a healthy buzz. The beer is infused with cannabidiol oil, a non-psychoactive hemp extract — and is probably the first commercial beer to be brewed in the United States with CBD. Brewery co-owner Mason Hembree says he made the beer to support Colorado's marijuana industry.
Go ahead and sample beers from Elysian, Ten Barrel, Golden Road and Goose Island — all of which are now owned by Anheuser Busch-InBev. But get your karma back in line at the Caution booth, where you can try Peach Fuss, a collaborative beer that was inspired by Budweiser's now-infamous Super Bowl ad campaign targeting craft breweries — and pumpkin peach ales in particular.
Colorado Brewers Guild
As it did last year, the Guild again brought together two bipartisan groups of state legislators to collaborate on a beer with two different local breweries. House members went to Big Choice Brewing in Broomfield to make The Ayes Have It Aye-PA, a citrusy IPA with Warrior, Mosaic, Simcoe and Amarillo hops, while state senators journeyed to Cannonball Creek in Golden to brew up Senate Shout Out Stout, a mocha stout made with dark chocolate and locally-roasted coffee. You can try them both at the Guild's table, as part of Hop the Vote, and vote for which one you think is best. It's your civic duty.