Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Colorado Brewer's Festival

This is just a quick note after returning from the 20th annual Colorado Brewer's Festival (CBF) in Fort Collins. Every year a group of friends and I make the one hour journey north from Denver to the CBF. I have not missed one since 1992. It is always a great time with good food, fun bands, interesting people watching, and of course great Colorado beer! The organizers marketed this year's event with "Brewfest XX" posters that resembled Dos Equis labels. Despite the symbolism, only Colorado beers are allowed. There were over 50 beers on tap split between three serving tent areas at the end of what is basically a large cross (Linden and Walnut Streets) in the blocked-off old town Fort Collins. The remaining end of the cross is the center of old town where local bands perform through out the day.

Each year the crowd seems to grow, and this year was no exception. The CBF takes place on the Saturday and Sunday of the last full weekend of June each year from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Already at noon long lines had formed to enter the event. (ID check and token purchase) Beer lines are pretty reasonable until the final two hours where they can grow to 15 minutes or so. It has helped that the event doubled tent space by using both sides of the beer cooling semis, and they no longer allow half pours, but with more and more people attending each year, it can still get crowded. A couple years ago the CBF started allowing breweries to offer two beers (previously just one was allowed), and most breweries now do offer two. Most serve a summer beer as their primary (Pils, Weissbier, Golden Ale, etc.), but the second offering allows them to offer a flagship, or something unique and/or darker.
The CBF is definitely a daytime event, but we always book a couple rooms and make a day out of it. The streets of downtown Fort Collins are always alive on this weekend, and there are plenty of bars to chill at after a long hot day, and plenty of dance clubs to visit if that is what one likes. After the bars close, and before the one mile walk back to our hotel, we usually hit the Gyros vendor on the corner of Mountain and College for a snack to enjoy on the much needed walk.

If you live in Colorado, I'd say visiting the CBF is a must! If you live out of the state I'd recommend a late June visit to take it in. It is a well organized event, and always a great time!
I've included just a couple of pictures. One is of Les and his custom Montana made "Stetson" Miller Lite cowboy hat. Next year he says he'll bring a stack of them to sell to the 50 or so people that wanted to buy one off of him!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You've Gotta Drink This

For those of you that are American Homebrewer's Association (AHA) members and read Zymurgy, you are aware of their "You've Gotta Drink This" section. (If you are not an AHA member, consider joining. Even if you are not a home brewer, membership has great benefits like the pub discount program. You can get more information at http://www.beertown.org/homebrewing/membership.html) There is a beer that I have fallen in love with called Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer, so I submitted the entry below to Jill Redding, editor in chief of Zymurgy. I'm not sure if/when Jill will post my entry, but I thought I would share this will you all. Below is my submission.

Brewery: Brouwerij Het Anker (Mechelen Belgium)
Beer: Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer
Style: Belgian Strong Ale

This beer is a must try, especially for Rochefort 8/10 fans. Its color is dark amber, and it pours with a sticky, long-lasting, off-white head. The aroma is huge and dominated by rich dried fruit flavors from the malt and the yeast. It is definitely a "Belgian" nose, though not phenolic or banana-ish like some Belgian yeast strains. Probably the most effervescent aroma I've experience in a non-hop accentuated beer. The flavor coincides with the aroma and is malty sweet with dark fruit undertones. There is no perceptible hop flavor or aroma. Aggressive carbonation keeps the beer from becoming too sticky in the mouth. Its finish is long and warming with more fruit and malt. Overall this beer offers a wonderful balance of yeast, malt and alcohol, and it is a must try for fans of Belgian Dubbels and darker Belgian Strong Ales!

Side notes: On the beer shelf the bottle wasn't something that jumped out at me. But there was a small marketing sign below it stating "99 Ratebeer.com". I'm usually not swayed by this sort of thing, but I thought I'd give it a shot. I was blown away! Also, this beer is brewed once per year on February 24th. (Charles the Fifth's birthday) And different vintages are slightly different. The 2007 was 10%, and the 2008 was 11%. Despite the alcohol variation, the flavor is very similar. I doubt they are trying to make a different beer.