The Brewers Association made this year's app for the Great American Beer Festival available on Wednesday, and although the beer list won't go live until today, the app will be more necessary than ever in 2014. That's because there are about 730 breweries at the festival this year, pouring upward of 3,500 beers. Which is a whole lot. Although I've never been one to focus on a certain style, I do like to have a strategy at the festival.
As devised in previous years, it involves checking out a mixture of old favorites, recent discoveries and buzz breweries that I've never tried but heard a lot about, either from friends, other beer drinkers or online. None of them are from Colorado, since I can try those on the other 51 weeks of the year -- and only a few have ever had even limited distribution in Colorado. Here is a list of thirty or so breweries whose booths I plan to hit up at the GABF.
Old Favorites Although the lines are long at New Glarus, Sun King and Three Floyds, I always come away happy. Drake's is just plain amazing.
New Glarus, Wisconsin Three Floyds, Indiana Sun King, Indiana Two Brothers, Illinois Allagash, Maine Drake's, California Yazoo, Nashville Nebraska Brewing, Nebraska
Recent Discoveries Ladyface impressed me a lot two years ago at the festival. Glad to see that they are back. I've had Societe's hoppy beers in San Diego. Amazing.
Ladyface Ale, California Societe, California La Cumbre, New Mexico
Buzz Breweries Texas and Florida seem to be coming on strong in the world of craft beer, and I've heard good things about several breweries in each state. Black Star Co-op is the first co-op of its kind (another was recently shut down in Texas for playing naked Twister).
Real Ale Project, Blanco, Texas Austin Beerworks, Texas Black Star Co-Op, Texas Funky Buddha, Florida Due South, Florida
Colorado may be the center of craft brewing in the West, but Wyoming and New Mexico are getting their share of praise as well. In addition to La Cubre (above), I'm going to check out Abbey Brewing (beer made by monks) and Melvin in Wyoming, winner of the Alpha King Challenge two years in a row.
Abbey Brewing, New Mexico Melvin Brewing, Wyoming
Oregon continues to be one of the best states for craft breweries, and it's hard to keep track of the scene there. But I got a few recommendations recently. The rest on the list were recommended as well.
Barley Brown, Oregon The Commons, Oregon Bend Brewing, Oregon Boneyard Beer, Oregon Breakside Brewery, Oregon Gigantic Brewing, Oregon 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, Illinois Tree House Brewing, Massachusetts Rare Barrel, California Wicked Weed, North Carolina Port City, Virginia
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