Thursday, October 20, 2016

Volunteering at the 2016 GABF

GABF week has come and gone but it has built many memories. I, for one had a terrific time while volunteering for the paired event at GABF. It is for AHA and BA members only. It cost quite a bit of cash, $145 but it includes the pairings of chef to brewery plus entrance to the main GABF event.
Through a friend of mine who has volunteered at the Paired event for a couple of years I decided to volunteer too. There is a process of submitting an application along with a recommendation from a previous volunteer. There is also emails going back and forth with information and instructions about being a GABF volunteer.

Fellow Paired volunteers, Kirsten,
Deborah, and Jeff. 

The day of the first session was on Thursday, we arrive early to check in. We get a t-shirt which we have to wear while volunteering and a plastic tasting container for beer. Yes, we are allowed to taste beer on our break but getting wasted is very discouraged. We met up with our team lead, Laura Lodge who gives us a tour of the paired venue and off we go to our station.
Matt Lincecum
Jared Barker and Mike Friedman.

There were 22 tables that had 7 local chefs and 4 local breweries from metro Denver and Boulder. Lost Abbey, The Bruery, Oskar Blues, Ninkasi Brewing, Grand Teton and Bear Republic to name drop a few breweries that were there.

Gnoochi alla Romana.

Chicken Liver mousse.

 My station was with Fremont Brewing from Seattle and Mike Friedman, head chef of Red Hen from Washington DC. The concept is the breweries bring 2 beers and the chefs will create 2 small plates that pair with the beer. Fremont Brewing brought Field to Ferment, a fresh hop pale ale that Chef Friedman paired with a gnocchi alla romana with smoked salmon, cucumber, creme fraiche and trout roe. The second pairing was with The Lamb, a  Saison aged in oak wine barrels with a touch of Brettanomyces Lambicus, with chicken liver mousse, fig jam, fresh thyme, and hazelnuts, sandwiched between rye bread. The first day was boring standing there waiting for something to do like get water, or pass the plates to the front table. By the end of the day, I was very tired but the brewery and the chef congratulating me on a good job. The Fremont founder Matt Lincecum was there with a few of the breweries crew. They were very nice so was Mike Friedman and Jared Barker, General manager of Red Hen. They were very friendly and didn’t mind me being there drinking their beers and eating some of the small plates of food. I have to say both did a great job with the pairings. The Fremont Brewing and the Red Hen crew made the experience more enjoyable.

I took a few 10 minute breaks to taste from the other tables of paired small plates and beer. It is amazing how full you can get eating the small plates that each chef brought for their pairing of beer. I saw many people I know there at the pairing event and some famous people in the brewing industry, Eric Wallace, founder of Left Hand Brewing,  who I have been acquainted to for many years stopped by and said hello, while tasting the small dish. Our table was right in front of the entrance so most people stop there first. Jeremy Teiber, who I have written about in a previous post, was there with his wife, Allison and their year old daughter. I saw, Tomme Arthur, Lost Abbey founder wandering through the event and I praised the founder of Dry Dock Brewing, Kevin DeLange on his incredible beers that they are brewing these days.

The second day of pairings went faster because I got to help more with plating both dishes. The press were allowed in an hour early that day so there was more of a rush of plating to do. For both days the Fremont Brewing crew had also brought three flavors of chocolate from Theo Chocolate in Seattle with a case of the brewery's Rusted Nail, a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout with cinnamon, licorice, and smoked barley. That beer went fast and it paired well with the chocolate.

Theo Chocolate in three flavors,
dark chocolate, dark chocolate
with orange, and dark chocolate
with coconut.
One of the Fremont Brewing's crew
pouring Rusted Nail.

It was a very nice experience volunteering at the GABF. So if you're interested in Paired at GABF make sure you are a member of the American Home brewers Association or the Brewers Association. See you next year!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sour Sunday 2016

It’s that time of the year again, GABF and to kick start the week is Sour Sunday at Backcountry Pizza and Tap House in Boulder Colorado. John Fayman and his staff did a wonderful job with this event, they had to clear tap lines to make room for all the sour ales. Anthony Lopiccolo, head chef at Backcountry Pizza was buzzing around looking after the food pairing of the sour ales. At noon, Cantillion Fou Foune, lambic with apricots was on cask. It's a sour ale from Belgium and rarely seen in Colorado.

The restaurant opened an hour earlier than usual, 10 am and there was a line growing outside the bar doors.  It seems early but as the saying goes, “It’s noon somewhere, right?”  
John Fayman and Max at the bar.

After getting a seat at the bar, we perused the beer menu and was a little overwhelmed by all the sour ales. Only at this kind of event do they offer a full pour (10 ounces) or a half pour (5 ounces) for every sour ale on tap. They also had bottle pours in the game room but they were only giving full pours.  After a moment or two I picked the ales I wanted to try as a half pour, Almanac Brewing’s Pumpkin Pie de Brettaville, a 7% ABV sour/wild ale with pumpkin, vanilla beans, pumpkin spices aged in oak barrels. It wasn’t my favorite. The other sour ale was from Cascade Brewing, Blackcap raspberry sour, 8.13% ABV with Blackcap raspberries aged in Oak barrels and it had that raspberry tartness. I went to the game room and got a full pour of Jester Kings Astrial Rubicite, this was my favorite beer of the day! It was like drinking raspberry jam, I called it a jammie flavor. Since it was in bottles, it was the first to kick.
Jester King Astrial Rubicite.
Almanac Pumpkin Pie de Brettaville and
Cascade Blackcap Raspberry.

Anthony made blueberry muffins with lemon curd glaze, those muffins went very well with the sour ales. We didn’t have an entree but we know how Anthony plans the pairings careful. Cheers to John and Anthony for another successful Sour Sunday!
Ryan pouring beers in the game room.

Photos of some of the Sour Sunday patrons:
Lucy (waitstaff), Dennis, Lisa and Emma.

Allison and Jeremy and baby.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

BSB 4th Anniversary

Wednesday, September 29 was the start of Black Shirt Brewing's 4-day anniversary celebration. We bought a VIP tickets for $10 that included a glass with their barrel-aged Anniversary Quad and some swag (can cozies and a brewery sticker). There were 12 others beers on tap as well.

Our VIP ticket was for Friday so we headed down to Denver around 11:30, I know that's early but we had other things to do later that afternoon and what about that old saying, "It's noon somewhere!" As expected it wasn't busy yet, with only one other patron at the bar.

We ordered the Quad, one on CO2 and the other on nitro.  It is always amazing how the flavors of a beer changes when on nitro, it's smoother, is mellower, and goes down way too easy especially since the quad is 9.5% this year.  The Anniversary Quad 4 Ways will have a different aspect of it each day: Thursday was regular, Friday was nitro, Saturday will have coffee infused in it, and Sunday will have chocolate/chili flavors.  
CO2 Quad on the left and the
nitro version right.

Carissa Miller, one of founders, was on hand while hubby Chad was delivering their canned beers and while brother-in-law, Branden was on his honeymoon. We had a great time talking to her about beer. It's been a long haul for those 3 people who wanted to start a brewery on their terms.
Carissa wanted me to try their gose, brewed with Yuzu, Lemongrass, Hawaiian Red Gold Sea Salt, dry-hopped w/ Equinox & Hallertau Blanc.  It was good but just a tad bit salty for me. You need that right balance of salt with the flavors for a great gose.

Happy Anniversary!

Larry Smith and Carissa Miller chatting it up!