Great American Beer Festival: 25 things I learned in 2010

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1) No matter how prepared you are for GABF, it is still overwhelming.

2) San Diego County makes more amazing beers than some entire regions of the country.

3) Maui Brewing's CoConut Porter was one of the most heavenly beers I have ever tried. Even better, sources say they'll begin distribution in Colorado by the end of the year.

4) Blue Moon -- which won Large Brewery of the Year -- made a peanut butter beer. It was pretty good. Too bad they'll never market it outside of GABF.

5) Even before Brewers Association founder Charlie Papazian tweeted about Shorts Brewing, asking whether the Bellaire, Michigan brewery, might be the "new Dogfish Head", the line at the table was gargantuan. I guess I didn't get the memo because I'd never heard of Shorts. They ran out of beer on Friday.

6) Durango's Steamworks Brewing, which had to close one of its southern Colorado operations last year after financial issues, has stopped bottling beer, switching entirely to cans. But the brewery won three medals this year, and it's Steam Engine Lager truck in Denver made a cameo appearance in Imagine That, the recent Eddie Murphy flick.

7) People will talk about anything after a few beers. For instance, I guess I am on Team Edward. After seeing Twilight: Eclipse, I can't even believe there is a Team Jacob. I mean, he's a cool guy and all -- if a little agro -- but Bella and Edward are obviously soul mates. It shouldn't even be a debate.

8) The massive line for Dogfish Head was better for flirting because there was lots of room; the 3 Floyds line was too cramped for conversation.

9) There's a woman named Laurie Delk from San Diego who has a blog called 100 Beers 30 Days, wherein she tastes beer from 100 breweries in, yes, 30 days. Her latest challenge (she's done two so far) began on the first day of GABF with a beer from Odell. Somehow, she is also trying to raise money for charity, although I didn't quite get that part.

10) People don't always look like their Twitter handles.

11) Foothills Brewing in North Carolina, must have brought one pitcher's worth of Sexual Chocolate because they ran out after the first hour of the first day of the festival.

12) Central City's Dostal Alley makes a beer with wild hops that have been growing in the mountains for 120-140 years. It's called Jacob Mack.

13) Women have more sensitive palates than men.

14) Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida is amazing. Their Guava Grove is like a sour cherry kriek but with guava. Their Jai Alai rivaled west coast hoppy IPAs.

15) If you buy a burrito from the guy selling them out of a cooler at GABF let-out, you can bargain him down to $2. Also, they are really, really, really spicy. 16) Food from Farm to Table Pavilion is much better than burrito guy, but since no one is cooking wild-mushroom polenta outside the Colorado Convention Center at 9:45 p.m., I'll take what I can get.

17) The bathroom lines are no better/no worse than at a Rockies/Broncos game.

18) Some people drop their plastic cups on purpose just for the crowd cheers.

19) Volunteers have endless patience, but they are inconsistent in their love for beer. Note to certain volunteers (not all): Take five minutes to learn the basics about the brewery you are pouring for. If you don't like beer, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

20) Stone's Greg Koch isn't used to standing in line to get a beer -- especially his own, but he had to at the Cheeky Monk, which was packed on Thursday with people who wanted to try Stone's Saison du B.U.F.F., as well as versions made by Victory and Dogfish Head.

21) Uptown Bros, the Cheeky Monk, both on Colfax, and Vine Street Pub, on 17th Avenue, make an awesome beer-nirvana triangle outside of LoDo.

22) Some breweries don't bring nearly enough beer. Note to Ninkasi, Allagash and Deschutes: I realize you're not running a charity, but you might want to bring enough for three days.

23) I can't even imagine the level of coordination that has to happen every year in order for the Brewers Association to hold this event. It is truly mind blowing.

24) Although I couldn't get the duck-rabbit stew with Duck-Rabbit beer, the Farm to Table Pavilion was really good. Definitely worth it. Great food. Great beer.

25) Charlie Papazian is a rock star.

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