The original plan for the week following our Anniversary on the second of October was to get a place in the Shaver Lake area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Well, a call from the Canadian company that I consult for created a small problem for that week. A client needed two people during our planned get-away week for some work in Grand Junction, Colorado. They had one guy free that week and, being the good guy that I am, I volunteered to be the second. I volunteered to give them a portion of the week my bride and I had set aside for our mountain get-away during the week following our anniversary …….. Number 32 and counting!
That could have been a bad move on my part but it didn’t take long to convince my brilliant, beautiful and better half that we could have a good time in the Rockies instead of the Sierras. My work had me in Grand Junction on a Wednesday/Thursday. We decided to spend a few nights in Denver prior to driving across to Grand Junction. We arrived on Saturday, October 4th and the Beer Gods were smiling upon us. I knew that the Great American Beer Fest was held in Denver but I failed to buy discounted tickets when they were first offered. I honestly did not plan that far in advance and flat forgot about it until we arrived at the hotel. I travel far too much and the concierge seeing that I was “Premier Platinum” for Marriot started a ticket hunt for us. He warned us to expect to pay a premium, as it had been sold out for months.
As he was working his magic to snag some tickets, we took a walk over to the 16th Street Mall. Lots of food, lots of beer and lots of people watching. We saw many of the Beer Fest attendees wandering the street as the noon session closed and the evening session, open to the general public, was being restocked with an estimated 3500 different beers from over 700 brewers. Oh my, a beer drinker’s heaven.
We decided, or should I say my bride decided to test the scalper market down near the convention center. My CFO and Chief negotiator went to work on the streets of Denver. For whatever reason, men are putty in her hands…me included. Guess what, she scored two tickets to the evening at less than face value! I think she could have taken a little more out of the guy but……I kept my mouth shut! Wise move.
It was a big, big crowd for the evening session on the 4th. I am not much of a fan of standing in lines but in this case the reward was worth the effort. After being herded through the doors and up the stairs to the top floor of the convention center we were faced with some very serious decisions. Our decisions were made 1 ounce at a time……that was the standard pour! So many choices!!!!! Even though I prefer IPA’s and Stouts, the craft beer industry is stretching boundaries into some very interesting offerings.
We had a Cucumber Ale and it tasted just like a cucumber…..not a beer nor and Ale – scratch that one. This year’s offerings were well represented by sour beers. Sour beers are brewed with Brettanomyces, the most common of the wild yeast strains. Those sour beers were in abundance at this year’s event. My taste buds do not care much for the sour /tart tastes, or at least in the extremes found at the Fest. New Belgium has a beer that is a bit tart but in a pleasant way, Snapshot is the name of this tasty brew. My wife loved it. There were some amazing IPA’s and Double IPA’s and a few Imperial IPA’s that I gave up trying to segregate and remember! One very interesting observation concerning the Stouts I sampled….none quite measured up to my current Russian Imperial Stout that continues to age very well, much better than I have aged! Can you hear me patting my back?
The people really made the evening for us…..many in costume, many beer geeks, a whole gob of what some would call beer snobs…..I prefer to label myself as a beer geek, educating myself on all things beer – Try this definition out: “Beer Geek: One who devotes himself to life long learning and loving of all thing beer related; one who attempts to try every beer regardless of the significance or insignificance of the price tag.” Thanks goes to Nate for the definition @ http://thankheavenforbeer.com/2009/04/09/beer-dictionary-beer-snob-vs-beer-geeks/
Denver has beer! Some of you may have already figured it out but in case you haven’t, be yee snob, geek or as Nates says – “heading toward beer-savant”, Denver is close to beer heaven. Look left or right up and down the 16th street Mall and your choices of beers run into the several 100’s. A family friend originally from Midland Texas, Aurora now living in the Denver area, walked us down to the Denver Beer Company brewery for a great evening, wonderful soft pretzel, and great beers…Thanks Aurora!
Even the local Rock Bottom Brewery cranks out awesome brews and has an equally awesome wait staff! How do I know….a couple of years ago I and one of my work mates, a formerly rowdy Canadian from Carnduff Saskatchewan, made connections with the wonderful wait staff at Rock Bottom…..We were invited to the tapping of a Vienna Black Lager on our last night in town. In fact we were served the first beers from the tapping, well before the other customers, and just before the wait staff had their briefing and tasting prior to making it available in the restaurant. I have a vague recollection of being treated to many special beer treats that night. I am sure thankful for level sidewalks and a short distance to the Marriott hotel!
The drive to Grand Junction included stops at Frisco and Back Country Brewery and Pub…. The sampler was awesome. Then a diversion to Breckinridge Brewery – in my opinion not nearly as good as Back Country. Also nearby was the Dillon Dam Brewery just a few minutes from Frisco was visited on our return trip. Before arriving in Grand Junction we found Palisade Brewery nestled into the area with peach orchards, vineyards and wineries. I have been here before but it was a first for my wife….GREAT BEERS. We caught a nice sunset as we left.
Grand Junction holds its own in the Colorado beer scene! Six right in the immediate area and others nearby including a distillery. Damn……they make a small batch Bourbon that seems to have a great reputation! Rockslide in Grand Junction is PDG! I still like Kannah Creek – great variety of beers and a fun staff.
I wonder if I can find several months’ worth of work in Colorado and follow that up with a month in Portland Oregon??????
Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
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