Denver Business Journal: 29 must-try brews at the Great American Beer Festival

“The Great American Beer Festival is here, with some 800 breweries from across the nation (some never found in Denver outside this event) pouring more than 3,800 beers at the Colorado Convention Center.

But it is only the fool who would enter those hallowed halls today through Saturday and ignore this state’s own fruits.

Colorado brewers — and there are 161 of them that will be pouring at the festival — are coming in from some of the most remote parts of the state, and they are breaking out some rarely-tasted one-offs .

That means a higher concentration of blow-your-taste-buds-out-with-delight offerings in the Mountain section of the great hall than in any other area — yes, even more than the Pacific.

With that in mind, here is an alphabetical list for locals and visitors alike of absolute must-try beers at the festival.

A few you’ll know. Many you will not. But hey, isn’t that the greatest joy of GABF?

  1. AC Golden Colorado Native Kriek Noir: A stunningly tart beer aged two years with cherries and then bottle-conditioned for another two, It will take your taste buds to the edge with its complexity and ultimately reward them.
  2. Avery Promiscuus: Very few brewers have used Madeira and port barrels to age their wares, and it’s a shame. This beer, which I’ve only had in the Boulder Brewery’s taproom, is bold and funky, and you’ll swirl it around again and again to discern the flavors.
  3. Black Project Cygnus Double Montmorency: The great joy of Black Project is never quite knowing what its spontaneous fermentation will produce. But when the brewery takes three different years of barrel-fermented coolship ale and tosses them together with pounds and pounds of cherries, you know it will be special.
  4. Boulder Shake Chocolate Porter: America’s oldest microbrewery may have hit on the best recipe in its 38-year history when it created this creamy, sweet and full chocolate porter that will give you a different taste to consider.
  5. Broken Compass Coconut Porter: This mountain-town brewery not only cemented its reputation by winning a medal for this at its first GABF, it actually started to draw people out of the Denver area up to Breckenridge to seek this out.
  6. Caution Brewing The Earl: Lakewood’s finest brewery employs a lot of unusual ingredients in its beer, but its use of Earl Grey tea to add a leafy presence to a surprisingly full-bodied English mild creates the most unique taste in its portfolio.
  7. City Star Belle: Arguably no brewery in Colorado has improved as much this year as City Star, which wowed earlier this year with its Wood Belly barrel-aged imperial IPA. So when the brewery decides it’s going to uncork a barrel-aged sour oatmeal pale ale aged with passion fruit, you just want to see what it can do with that combination.
  8. Comrade Fresh Hop Superpower IPA: The year-round version of this beer is becoming the Colorado standard-bearer IPA for some hop heads. And this is the kicked-up version that is only available for a limited time.
  9. Copper Kettle Snowed In Mocha: Snowed In, a bourbon-barrel imperial oatmeal stout, is one of the finest Christmastime beers in the state. So, what will a little coffee and chocolate do to the body? That’s kind of the point to buying tickets to the GABF.
  10. Crooked Stave Trellis Buster: These guys are some of Colorado’s sour kings. But when they pour a beer they describe as their hoppiest beer ever, you eagerly ask for this dry-hopped double IPA.
  11. Dry Dock Pumpkin Double Porter: The double hazelnut brown ale and the double hazelnut coffee porter were out of this world. This is the next iteration of the concept, and appropriate for the season.
  12. Fate Brewing Pinot Noir Gose: Take one of your signature beers, age it with pinot noir grape must, sit back and enjoy.
  13. Funkwerks Nelson Sauvin: This beer combines one of the most appealing hops available today with the body of a saison to produce a rainbow of flavors.
  14. Great Divide The Smoothness: First offered last year, this Jameson-barrel-aged dark lager has enough body to stand up to Irish whiskey overtones but not too much to render the barrel moot….”

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