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Aug 20, 2014

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GABF brewers' diaries

Todd Ashman

Denver - Sept. 26

Last day of judging ... Friday is going to be a great day just a morning session of judging and then off for a little adventure.

English Style Summer Ale ... a style never before judged by the GABF. Nice light bodied golden ales with a pleassant hop character. The examples we awards medals to will now be the "precedent." I feel we did well. Next was Belgian Sour Ales. I love this category as it is not easy. You either show your pedigree or you don't. It comes down to six beers and it is hard. The ones we dismiss are all fought for and in the end I think 5 medals could have been awarded. It wasn't easy letting some of those beers go but in the end it has to be that way. All I could give the brewers was my thoughts and they were all great those last 5-6 beers. There are some really good brewers out there doing great work with lambic style beers.

I get Kelly Kuehl from Mid America Brewing and we head out to Boulder to meet my buddy Dave Chichura, bBrewer at Mountain Sun and we have beers and lunch. I love the Mountain Sun as it really represents what I want in my own brewery some day. Hard to explain but kind of a McMenamins feel with some Colorado attitude added (or is that altitude?). Simple, homey with a little hippy/Grateful Dead thing going on. Great beers on tap and a lineup of 19 on them to choose from ... wow! I have the Chazz Cat Rye and some Hog Back Dopplebock. We chat over the state of the Craft Brewery Industry, brewing, and corporate brewpubs. After a nice meal and beer I feel more like a nap than what's next, but I press on.

Press Event at New Belgium. It started out as a vertical tasting and now more of a who's who in brewing. It's really a press event though and a well put together PR for New Belgium brewing. The folks at NBB have always put out a wonderful spread of food and beer. The have always been incredibly gracious hosts. I'm sure someone will write about the event in more detail so I will just mention what touched me as important. Of those attending we were broken into three groups each attending a different presentation. One on Wood Aging, another for Food Pairing and the last Transatlantinque Kriek. Tomme Arthur and Peter Bouckaert spoke at the Kriek stop. Tomme Arthur is the most creative, innovative, pushing the envelope brewer in the United States. The fact that he is brewing the beers he makes at a little 7 barrel brewhouse in the San Diego area just makes it all the more impressive. Anyway, Tomme spoke of NBB's Transkriek project with Belgian brewer Frank Boon, and then about his own "flavor driven" beers. Then it was Peter's turn and he spoke of "building bridges" with other breweries not only here in the US but in Belgium as well. Maybe it is a great time to be a brewer — what these two brewers were talking about truly made me happy to be brewing in this country right now.

These rest of the evening was eating and drinking. With tomorrow's awards ceremony less than a day away my angst was starting to flare up. The drive back to Denver was quiet and a nightcap at the Blake Street Tavern made the day end on a good note.

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