Beer Man

The Great American Beer Festival is sold out, but these hot events around it aren't...yet

The Great American Beer Festival sold out in minutes -- possibly seconds -- this year, stealing the breath away from many beer fans and crashing plans. But the festival-related events that surround the annual beerstravaganza, October 11-13, have risen to a level in the past two years that now equals, arguably, GABF in coolness and cachet -- if not in quantity and renown. But some of these events will sell out as well -- and probably soon. Here are three that you may want to jump on sooner rather than later.

See also -Five new things to look for at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival -The Colorado Brewers Guild is whipping up special beer for #GABF award winners -Four ways to enjoy beer more, courtesy Rackhouse Pub's GABF Beer Judge School

Rackhouse Beer School October 9-12, various times Rackhouse Pub $35-$45 Last year, the Rackhouse Pub brought in Gwen Conley, the Sensory Goddess for California's Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Company (and GABF beer judge) to teach a class on Sensory Training 101. It sold out in three days. This year, Rackhouse owner Chris Rippe plans to take you back to school with not one, but four days of beer classes taught by some of the most knowledgeable people in their fields. Oh, and there will be be beer drinking as well. But each class is limited to sixty tickets.

"We have thousands of people who come to town and spend a lot of money, but most of the events are all about beer tappings and not much education," Rippe says. "So the idea was that people could learn about how beers are made and taste them and then take that knowledge with them to the festival.

"The coolest part of this is most consumers can't just gain access to the people who are speaking," he continues. "You can't just call up Gwen Conley and ask her to do a sensory tasting with you. These are the most knowledgeable people in the industry."

Sensory Training 101, October 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Conley gives you a full education in palate development, flavor recognition, style guidelines, and overall beer enjoyment.

Yeast 101, October 10, 4-6 p.m. Left Hand Brewing head brewer Ro Guenzel and White Lab's yeast guru Neva Parker will teach you about the history and growth of brewing science as well how brewers use different yeast strains to manipulate the flavor profiles. To make the lesson hit home, they'll be serving four cask beers featuring identical hop and grain recipies but dosed with four different yeast strains.

Hops 101, October 11, 3-5 p.m. Dry Dock Brewing owner Kevin DeLange and Brewers Supply Group's Purchasing and Inventory Manager Justin Livengood show students how brewers use hops to create balance and bitterness, and how different soil content, regional climates and genetic variations keep things interesting. Oh, and you get to try four casks from Dry Dock that feature beer made with identical grain and yeast recipes, but four different hops.

Sours 101, October 12, 3-5 p.m. Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Andy Parker of Avery Brewing and Troy Casey of AC Golden talk barrel-aging, souring, blending, Brett and everything in between. There will also be a specialty guided tasting of select sours from Crooked Stave and Avery.

Euclid Hall/Avery Brewing Midnight Breakfast October 11, 11 p.m. Euclid Hall $99 Euclid Hall debuted its Midnight Breakfast with Avery Brewing during last year's GABF to rave reviews and a handful of beer celebrities. The draw: an intense, palate-pounding menu by Euclid chef Jorel Pierce paired with an equally overwhelming series of some of Averys' rarest, most delicious and most sought-after brews. This year's breakfast starts at 11 p.m., after the end of the GABF Thursday night session, and includes nine decadent culinary creations that Pierce designed specifically to match nine of Avery's beers, most of them barrel-aged and cared for Avery's Andy Parker. Here's the menu:

Dish: House-made teriyaki spam with pineapple and maraschino cherries Beer: Avery Lilikoi Kepolo

Dish: Cheese and breakfast charcuterie with jam and mustard toast Beer: Recolte Sauvage

Dish: Dried strawberry and duck sausage with emmentaler mashers Beer: Quinquepartite

Dish: Dill and lardo tea sandwiches & rye toast, garlic confit Beer: Oud Floris

Dish: Fruit and nut granola bars & sieved yogurt icing Beer: Uncle Jacob's Stout

Dish: Lazy-eyed Susan with pineapple jam, plantain matchstick, Grand Marnier-soaked brioche, & quail egg Beer: Rumpkin

Dish: Headcheese McMuffins Beer: Hog Heaven

Dish: Sourdough waffles with cherry rosemary compote & foie gras "butter" Beer: Columbus Chinook dry-hopped IPA

Dish: Biscotti Beer: Tweak

The Lion, The Bear & The Brewmaster October 10, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Mile High Station $75 Highly-regarded California beer maker Firestone Walker will team up with local celebrity chef Hosea Rosenberg tonight for what the brewery is calling, "Firestone Walker unplugged -- a rare night of food, barrel-aged beers and brewery banter. The event will feature a vertical tasting of the brewery's last four anniversary ales, all of which are now sold out, XII, XIII, XIV and XV. Firestone Walker will also unveil the latest vintage, XVI. All of the anniversary ales are made by blending various other Firestone Walker beers - with help from the wine-making community in Paso Robles, California - and then aging them in barrels. Meanwhile, Rosenberg, the former Top Chef winner who owns Boulder's Blackbelly Catering, will offer a small-plate menu created to pair with the beers. "Along the way, brewery proprietors Adam Firestone (a.k.a. the bear) and David Walker (a.k.a. the lion) and Brewmaster Matt Brynildson will share unscripted stories and scuttle from inside the brewery," according to Firestone Walker. "The conversation will be moderated by Justin Crossley of The Brewing Network."

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes