I've been fortunate to have a lot of real estate to yammer on about beer lately; the new Isthmus Drinks supplement included my story on finding local beers that take away the sting of missing out on white whales, I covered the Angelic Brewing reunion party during Madison Craft Beer Week and what turned out to be the penultimate homebrewer gathering at Cambridge's CamRock Café and Sport, and I've recently reviewed Ale Asylum, Blair Street Brew and BBQ, and One Barrel, Karben4, and House of Brews. Oh, and beer paddles! Somehow, though, I failed to post my collected thoughts on the beers I tasted at Great Taste of the Midwest back in August. (If you follow me on Untappd, you at least saw my ratings of those beers.)
It might seem like getting back to a burning question no one's been asking, but I'm also gearing up for my first trip to Colorado for the Great American Beer Festival this week, so you'll have to excuse me if I just gotta talk about beer a bit more. First, a brief GTMW recap.
A raspberry/strawberry blended sour from DESTIHL was maybe the sourest beer I've ever tasted -- no, it was. Was the sourest. Perennial out of St. Louis poured a fine barrel-aged tart cherry oud bruin. Leinenkugel's Tenth and Blake team put together a straight-up sour apricot in addition to the Berliner weisse + fruit juice bubbles combo from last year. This statement is becoming almost as common as the mindset it warns against, but people gotta stop sleeping/hating on Leinie when it comes to both experimental and production craft beer.
Along that line of Leinie defense, see also: La Mumba, a rum barrel-aged Big Eddy Wee Heavy variant, casked. This one's dialed to 11 on almost all gauges (body, sweetness, booziness), and is exactly what beer festivals are best for. And as good as it was, it might have been bested in presentation by Schlafly's super creamy-smooth bourbon-barrel aged barleywine/pale ale blend, served out of a Ghostbusters proton pack-style portable tap. Yes, off of a dude's back.
Team Surly killed it as they always do, and I don't care if you say I'm in the bag for 'em. Misanthrope, a white wine barrel-aged saison, had a great balance of funk and oak. The SYX variant, aged in the same type of barrels, was even better. Schadenfreude (an oak-aged dark lager) and the Three Floyds co-op IPA called Urine Trouble were both solid efforts, four stars, would drink again.
You'll notice that all of these breweries are Midwestern (duh, I know, it's Great Taste of the Midwest). The work that lays ahead of me this week in Denver will be a whole new thang. I'll have access to beers from California and the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies, the South, and the Mid-Atlantic -- many completely without distribution in Wisconsin. I'll probably stop at some of the locals' booths to literally or figuratively say hi, but at this fest, it's the coasties I'm looking to meet.
The app for GABF is, I have to admit, a lot nicer to play with than the GTMW app. I get that GABF's got more capital to throw at an app developer, but at my fingertips, there's just no contest. So it'll be much easier to set up a wishlist on my phone, though I'm sure it'll be just as easy to get sidetracked, too. My Colorado friends put just the right amount of peer pressure on me (read: very little) to get me to assent to attending three separate sessions at GABF. And my wife's patience with and graciousness toward my beergeekery has been saintly. I'm a lucky guy.
If y'all have any recommendations for beers or breweries to look for at GABF, please sound off in the comments below. And if you're going to be there, too, holler!