Great American Beer Festival week kicked off, as it has for the past fifteen years, at the Falling Rock Taphouse on Monday, when the clock hit 000 00 00 00.0 But things were a little different this year, says Chris Black, who owns and runs Denver's most famous craft-beer bar. "Some people thought we were crazy," he says of the party, which has always been on a Monday, and was just about the only game in town as recently as five years ago.
This year, however, Falling Rock was competing with at least six other GABF kick-off events around Denver -- which speaks to how the city has evolved as a craft-beer Mecca, Black says. Still, there were at least sixty people on hand when the clock struck zero, and about 150 to 170 people in the house an hour later, drinking some of the amazing brews that Black tapped. Oh, and Black has a message for his friends and customers that you can find on the next page. It's also printed on all his menus during GABF.
One of those competing events was the tapping of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout at the Wynkoop Brewing Company -- a ballsy beer made with one of this region's specialties. Although RMOS began as an April Fool's joke earlier this year, it turned into the real thing when the Wynkoop acquired 25 pounds of bull testicles and made 350 gallons of this meaty foreign-style stout.
"I can't believe how much interest there has been," says Wynkoop head brewer Andy Brown, adding that the Wynkoop overnighted two cans of the beer to Anderson Cooper of CNN (the Wynkoop is considering canning the beer in the future). "The funniest thing people say, that I hear the most, is that, 'Hey, it doesn't taste that bad.'"
Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is a certainly a solid beer. Dark and heady, it has the bitter chocolate you'd expect from a foreign-style stout and a (Yeti-like) soy-sauce note that comes from the sea salt that Brown used. The balls were not detectable.
Okay, and now for that message from Chris Black: It's important, and it's on the next page: Here it is, and it's printed on every menu.
The list is a guide to the beers that we will have fairly steady for the GABF week. The really neat Special Beers are written on the chalkboards inside; they change so often I'd have to spend my whole time printing up lists and deforesting Colorado. Brewers from all over send the Falling Rock some of their favorite beers to put on tap during GABF week. Most of these beers are only a single keg (and a five-gallon one at that) and aren't for very long. Please don't get upset if the beer you wanted has run out. Take a deep breath and try something else. I'm sorry if your life-list depended on it. Relax and try just drinking the beer and savoring the moment with the folks you meet along the way. Please remember your server; they are really great people trying their best to attend to your needs in a hectic situation. -- Chris Black (King, Founder and Head Beer Geek)
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