Here are my notes – jetlagged and sleep-deprived though they be – filtered through three straight days (four, if you count setup and the Brewers’ Gathering on Wednesday) of the Great American Beer Festival.
Lots of good, straight-ahead traditional European lagers. Pils, Helles, Vienna and Maerzen – this always does my heart good. Prost, Real Ale, and Falling Sky are three off the top of my head that had great and authentic-tasting examples of down-home continental lagers.
Niches and specializations. There are a number of craft breweries out there now that seem to be positioned as the brand for that sweet spot where “Heavy Metal” and “Good Beer” intersect on the Venn diagram. Likewise, there seems to be a larger number of smaller breweries with a very specific focus – sours, saisons, IPA – where in the past it seemed adequate to have a range of “craft” styles (one IPA, one stout, one blonde, one seasonal …). Made me wonder if this is a sign of things to come in terms of market fragmentation and sub-subcultures.
I like IPA. Even after all these years, it’s a default setting for me when presented with an unfamiliar beer list or brewery range, and a pretty good litmus test to see what a brewery is all about.
I also like Mosaic as a solo hop.Pfriem Family Brewers had a luminous single-hop pale ale with Mosaic. I went back for it a couple times.
Natty Ice: gold medal winner. It was for the American-Style Cream Ale category, and I remark on it only because of the crowd reaction at the award ceremony: there was much whooping and hollering, which struck me because Budweiser Select, which won gold in the previous category (American Light Lager, I think) was met with comparative silence.
Lots of folks I knew, some who knew me. It’s always worthwhile to spend some time in the company of other beer lovers, and it was good to see some of you (for the first time, or again) in Denver last week to chat, high five, bump fists, clink glasses, or wave from across a sea of humanity.