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Sunday, October 12, 2008
GABF 2008---Closing Things Down
The big whopper of the final day that is the double-session of GABF began for us with a belly-filling breakfast at Dixon's. An easy-going spot on the edge of LoDo provided us with everything we needed to set a good base for what was in store for us over the following 16 hours. (Thanks to Dan for the tip.) After getting some of our things in order for our next day's return trip home, we headed out in the cool and drizzly midday weather to the Convention Center. It's amazing to see how early and long the general admission line forms to get into each session. When we ducked out for a bite to eat in between the two Saturday sessions, the line was already snaking down the street and around the corner...the evening session wasn't due to begin for a little more than another hour. Here are a few quick notes about each session and the remainder of our trip to GABF. I'll be following up with a slew of pictures and a full written review of GABF 2008 later this week. - I was astounded by how special the awards ceremony can be for brewers, friends, and family alike. There's true appreciation that can be felt in the crowd as winners names and beers are announced. - I figured I'd duck out for a few beers during the ceremony, but I stayed dry as I was captivated watching from the first award to Lew Bryson and on through the numerous awards to Philadelphia region breweries. (Maybe they could use a "hey, beer man" to circulate during the awards ceremony, ha!) - Iron Hill? I suppose I underestimated when I mentioned yesterday that they had a few medal winners on the table. Gotta say how proud I was to be behind their table pouring and representing. - I continued to be impressed with what I found in the Plains states region. Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma all represented very well. - I began to dabble in the Pro-Am beers, but not nearly as much as I would have liked to. I knew a few of the people from around the country who had entered beers. I tasted theirs, but wish I had just a bit more time to taste others. I really do enjoy seeing this homebrewing angle/aspect to the professional side that makes up the majority of GABF. - We grabbed dinner at Appaloosa Grill just a few blocks from the Convention Center. As you'd expect in this great beer state, a Great Divide Hades and Deschutes Black Butte were on two of the many quality tap handles and they went nicely with my dinner. Brian Dunn of Great Divide pulled up at barstool next to us and chatted with us for a while...then, it was back to the Convention Center for the evening session. - okay, first up about Saturday's evening session. Yes, it is a bit different from the other three sessions. But, not really that much different than what I saw on Thursday or Friday night. The Saturday afternoon session (the awards ceremony) did have a markedly different profile to the crowd and its behavior. But, for all of the warnings I received about staying away from Saturday, I couldn't quite see why...maybe in past years? The biggest drawback, of course, was the lack of beers available; I get that. Once the awards were given out and stickers went up on the brewery tables signs, whatever beers weren't already kicked went very quickly after that. - We did leave the evening session about half way through. We were hoping to get ahead of the curve and secure some space at Falling Rock for the "closing party" before the throngs arrived. This approach worked out well. - Downstairs at Falling Rock? Well, there could be plenty of stories to tell...I'm working on which ones to share and which ones to keep. Many have no point in being shared, rather they are the kind of stories that need to be experienced first hand. I'll leave for now with the awe that I had for the amount of brewing talent at Falling Rock. Brewers and related industry folk more than I could keep track of were tucked into the cozy downstairs. But, then I went upstairs and outside as well to find even more of the same. - Pitchers of Salvation, Eric's, La Terroir, La Folie, Smoked Porter and many, many more were floating around. If you recognize these names, you'll know how special this last night of GABF was at Falling Rock. Russian River had an "event" earlier in the evening and New Belgium was closing things down with a late night promotional event of their own. With everyone's work finished, it was fun to watch everyone unwind, tell stories, and create a little trouble :) - Patty and I took a taxi back to our hotel and shared with literary award-winner Lew Bryson. Once again, for you full disclosure folks (ah, full disclosure, how liberating ;-)...Lew continued on in the taxi to his hotel and paid our fare. Now I can't call him cheap, I suppose? - Our mid-day flight home today to Philly was packed with award-winning brewers, publicans, and PR people. I won't say who sat in first class and who in coach, but no drinks were passed back from first class and everyone arrived home safely. - Well...except for a few bottles of beer that I needed to discard of at Denver's airport. I've never had a problem with weight restrictions in the past, but this time there were one too many larger format bottles, and my suitcase was weighing in up around 65 pounds. I won't disclose which bottles didn't make the cut, but I will say there was no way the La Folie wasn't making the trip and that I wasn't ready to shell out an extra $50 for the ones that I left behind. My sweet-talking skills must have been off, since the ticket counter agent wasn't showing any leniency. Oh well...