In a scene being reproduced this week at breweries throughout the United States, brewers are packing up their beers, and shipping them via Fed Ex, UPS, and other conveyance to Denver, Colorado. Later this month, the beers will be judged against each other in 83 style categories (and 85 subcategories) at the Great American Beer Festival.
The 2011 Great American Beer Festival runs three days, Thursday, 29 September, through Saturday, 1 October, in Denver's Colorado Convention Center. According to the press release, 2,400 different beers from 465 different U.S. breweries will be served to 49,000-plus attendees. Many of the beers are routinely only available at single brewpubs, or in the limited geographical distribution area of small breweries, so this will be a unique opportunity for may.
This year marks the 30th running of this annual festival and competition, organized by the Brewers Association —a trade organization for American breweries producing fewer than 6 million barrels per year. Most American breweries —small to large— consider the GABF to be the preeminent competition of American beer. Only 3 medals are awarded in each category.
Although most of the beer at the festival is served from kegs, any beer to be judged at the GABF must be submitted in bottles. Many brewpubs —restaurants that brew on-site— do not have bottling facilities. They often resort to makeshift devices, such as those used by homebrewers, to bottle their beers by hand.
Above, Bill Madden, owner and brewmaster of Mad Fox Brewing Company —a brewpub in Falls Church, Virginia— is arranging the shipment of 72 hand-bottled beers: that is, 4 bottles each of each 18 different beer 'styles.' Madden told me that his brewpub will also be sending 5 kegs of beer for the non-competition part of the festival.
- Big Chimneys Porter
- Broad Street IPA
- Defender IPA
- Elixir Hellerbock
- English Summer Ale (Citra hops)
- Fennec Ale ("ordinary bitter")
- Kolsch Kellerbier (pulled directly from the fermenter)
- Orange Whip IPA (citra-hop ale)
- St James Stout
- Tuppers India Ink (Black IPA)
- Slobberknocker Barleywine (aged in oak whiskey barrels)
- Strawberry Blonde Ale
- Wee Heavy Strong Scotch Ale
- Wee Heavy Strong Scotch Ale, aged in oak whiskey barrels)
Bad news: the festival has sold out of tickets.