Great American Beer Festival week in Denver is special to beer drinkers for many reasons, but one of the biggest is because they can sip suds from breweries from around the country — beers that aren't sold in Colorado. In the past, you needed a ticket to GABF to get your lips on these rare tastes, but these days, out-of-state breweries are tantalizing locals by temporarily distributing their liquid assets at bars, restaurants and even liquor stores around the city.
Big names — topped by breweries like Bell's, Lawson's and Surly — are out there, but you'll find plenty of others if you keep your eyes open. Here are ten to help you tank up.
You won't find beers from this highly regarded Asheville, North Carolina, brewery inside the convention center this week, but you can track them down at TRVE Brewing, where several are on tap all week. Burial will also be available at a pair of TRVE-sponsored events in town. Search for them in our GABF week beer calendar.
Sun King Brewing
Indiana's Sun King loves Denver and has been bringing beer in for GABF week for several years. This time around, in addition to the the festival, Sun King taps will be pouring at Hops & Pie on Thursday, including Diddy Muckle, Classic Example, Bourbon Barrel Timmie, College Avenue, Velvet Fog and Hot Rod.
Minnesota's Surly Brewing, known for beers like Todd the Axe Man, Abrasive and Darkness, is a favorite among Midwesterners and is virtually unobtainable in Colorado — unless you have a GABF ticket. But the brewery has been dropping off loads of beer in liquor stores around town this week, and several varieties will be served at a dinner tonight at TAG.
Beer drinkers can't rave enough about Bell's Brewery, a Michigan native loved by all who come to Colorado from the Midwest. The brewery has trucked in beer to Colorado for GABF week for the past couple of years, but this year will be a Bell's bounty. Find taps pouring at numerous locations around Denver, and in liquor stores (events are listed in our GABF beer calendar or on the Bell's web page). Oh, and if you want the very rare Uberon, the whiskey-barrel-aged version of Oberon, head to the new Old Chicago in the River Point Shopping Center in Sheridan (3840 River Point Parkway) tonight at 6 p.m.
Lawson's Finest Liquids
Known for its floral Sip of Sunshine IPA, Lawson's Finest is also one of Vermont's finest breweries, and although it poured some of its treats at last year's festival, the brewery won't be on the floor this time around. Rather, you will have to find Lawson's at Hops & Pie and Falling Rock today (see our GABF beer calendar for details) and at a few other places this week. Tiny amounts of beer were also dropped off at several Denver liquor stores.
You can always count on Indiana's Three Floyds to show up in Denver during GABF, and although it won't be inside the convention center this year, the brewery's beers will be back at Lowdown Brewery + Kitchen on Thursday. I also found some Zombie Dust at Falling Rock the other day, so keep an eye out.
You've probably heard of Daisy Cutter, a West Coast-style pale ale that set the standard for Chicago breweries at one time. The beer is still a classic, and you can find it and other Half Acre brews around town this week in a few bars and liquor stores and at the festival itself. Try Hops & Pie today, Falling Rock on Friday night or Jake's Brew Bar in Littleton on Saturday.
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Jack's Abbey Craft Lagers
This brewery does lagers and it does them well. Jack's Abbey, out of Massachusetts, will be all over town this week, in bars and liquor stores. Try Hops & Pie, Falling Rock, Jake's Brew Bar and others, but check first. The brewery is also at the festival and at liquor stores. Hint: Excess IPL is fantastic.
Located in Athens, Georgia, Creature Comforts has made a name for itself over the past few years, and although you won't find CC's beers at GABF, you will find them at Hops & Pie or Falling Rock today, Euclid Hall or First Draft tomorrow, and Star Bar on Friday night after 9:30 p.m., when Creature Comforts will blow things out with Wicked Weed and some other brewery friends. Some possibilities include: The King's Ransom, Southerly Love, Mutualism, Transmission, Athena, Tropicalia, Bibo and Reclaimed Rye.
These guys, along with a bunch of other breweries from Bellingham, Washington, will turn up Friday at the Crafty Fox for a special evening of tasting from 4 to 11 p.m. Other breweries on hand include: Aslan Brewing, Chuckanut Brewery, Kulshan Brewing, Wander Brewing, Melvin Brewing, Tap Trail, and Crooked Stave Artisanal Beer Project. The event, which is also a booster for Bellingham tourism, will let attendees enter for a chance to win a trip to Bellingham for two.