What We're Drinking | September GABF Edition - The Iowa Beer Blog

A blog about the beer produced, distributed and consumed in the great state of Iowa.

Monday, September 24, 2018

What We're Drinking | September GABF Edition

What we're drinkin' is my usual monthly look at some of the beers that I've come across in Iowa. This month, it'll be a tad different as I slid off the beaten path and ended up in Denver, Colorado, for the Great American Beer Festival.

Still, I've encountered a handful of tasty Iowa brews leading up to GABF. I was really digging on People Power by Thew which was pouring around Labor Day at the Hall in West Des Moines. Another new Thew beer I had was Afternoon Kickoff, an American coffee stout with a really nice roast-y flavor perfect for early Saturday mornings.

I've also ventured over to Barn Town Brewing in West Des Moines and really enjoy the Maple Pecanye West and Hawaiiowan Punch. The latter I raved about in June following the Iowa Craft Beer Fest. The Maple beer is used with Maple tree sap extracted at Des Moines Golf and Country Club next to Barn Town. That's a really cool local touch and a really good beer.

Anyway, if you're unfamiliar, the Great American Beer Festival is the biggest beer event of the year held in Denver. The three day event ends with an awards ceremony where 8,500 beers were entered. The festival boats 800 breweries and over 4,000 beers to sample for folks like me that had a ticket. Being first timers, we only planned to attend one night of the event.

I'll save you the particulars, like the cancelled flight in one city and two hours of hauling ass down the Interstate to another. We made it there with all of our naivety intact. It was not only the biggest and best beer thing I've done but the most organized too.

Because of past experiences elsewhere, I made what turned to be poor assumptions. I told my buddy we'd better plan to stay in long lines and expect to maybe taste three of the whales on our mile long list. This was not the case as we casually strolled from booth to booth finding just about any beer we wanted. The longest line we encountered, Weldwerks, was maybe 10 minutes long. We were 15 minutes in and already checked off maybe 10 whales. It was time to regroup and reorganize. That whale in a barrel pace not many can survive.

I won't dive into every 1-ish ounce sample but do want to mention the highlights. We were the first to stop at the More Brewing, of Chicago, Illinois, booth and the Henna Swirl and Barrel-Aged Henna Karma are worth all the hype. Fudge-y, coco, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, yes they were good. And More was right next to Modern Times were DDH Dinosaur World and Barrel-Aged Devil's Teeth confirmed by belief MT is one of the best breweries in the world.

A new brewery to me, from the other side of the map, Kane from New Jersey. The exploding coffee flavors in Sunday Brunch are amazing. A Night to End All Dawns was very good too but as a coffee beer fanatic, SB made my top three beers of the event.

We had a plan to visit Weldwerks in Greely prior to the fest but the airplane gods had different plans. I mentioned the line to their end cap booth but rotating through was no problem. Especially for pours of Single Barrel Peanut Butter Medianoche, Coconut Medianoche, DDH Juicy Bits and QDH Juicy Bits.

And for my favorite beer of my first event, by far, Willoughby Brewing Company's Maple Nut Smasher was a face melter. I hadn't heard of the brewery before reading a mention of a place to stop on one of the pre-event beer blogs. This beer explodes with sweet maple, coffee, peanut butter and chocolate. They had their regular Nut Smasher and Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter too but the maple was the star of the show. Bravo! Willoughby Brewing Company and bravo! Great American Beer Festival.

The Iowa Brewer's Guild was pouring some Iowa samples at the Guild Pavilion but we didn't get a chance to stop by and see what was on tap. Iowa breweries were shut out of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the awards ceremony this year.

The date for the 2019 GABF is set for Oct 3-5th. 2019. I've already put it on my calendar and plan to make a minimum of two days at the event. I'd recommend making the trip but if you're reading this you already know this.

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