Great American Beer Festival

Erin and I have paid close attention to when the Great American Beer Festival is every year, because we have really wanted to go.  In years past, it has been on the third or fourth weekend in September which is a busy time in the semester.  This year, it was on the second week of October, which conveniently fell on the weekend of our second wedding anniversary and on Truman State’s midterm break.  We took advantage, and through some dedicated time on the computer, Erin was able to purchase member’s only tickets to the GABF on Friday and Saturday.

After classes on Wednesday, October 10, we drove to Kansas City and flew to Denver that night, rented a car through Enterprise, and then drove to our cabin at Cha
taqua Park in Boulder.  The park was at the base of the Flat Irons, and our plan was to hike these the next day.  A hike on our anniversary trip has become a tradition now it seems.  We hiked the redwoods in California on our honeymoon, and we hiked the Multnomah Falls – Wakeena Falls loop in Oregon for our 1 year anniversary.  The tradition continues.

At the base of the Flat Irons

The pictures above were taken using my smartphone and I uploaded the one on the left to Facebook before we started the hike.  When we were finished, the post had several comments, one of which was that a high school friend was in town from Seattle and was at Avery Brewing Company.  We drove over to Avery and joined him and his brother, who works for Karbach Brewing Company in Houston.  Both of them were invited to this private party for distributors.  
We had some appetizers at Avery’s before making our way up to Fort Collins Thursday evening.  We checked into the Armstrong Hotel and I had to crash for a while due to the hike that morning and the slow adaption to the elevation.  At the bottom of the hotel we found Choice City Butcher & Deli, which was ranked 9th in the world by RateBeer as the Best Beer Restaurants in 2011.  The place had an amazing selection of beer and some great food.  
Taps at Choice City Butcher & Deli – Fort Collins, CO

To top off the night, we walked down to the Mayor of Old Town which is in the top 100 Best Beer Bars as ranked by Draft Magazine.  I’m not sure if Erin and I were just lucky and this was just a coincidence, but those that had waited on us in Fort Collins so far were phenomenal.  Water glasses never got dry, and they would be asking what I wanted next whenever we were a few swallows from finishing our beer.  
Mayor of Old Town

On Friday morning, we drove over to New Belgium Brewing Company after breakfast.  Erin and I filled out a few postcards and sampled several of their specialty beers that they do not distribute to Missouri.  New Belgium’s National Director of Field Quality, Matt Meadows, graduated a year behind me at Ottumwa High School.  We connected with him when he arrived and he offered us a private tour.  That was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.  We brought home a Red Hoptober sign for our kegerator room. 

Erin got us tickets to the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) 2012 for Friday night and Saturday afternoon, which were the members only times.  We are members of the American Homebrewers Association. When we walked in on Friday night and got our glass and program we both had a ‘Holy Shit’ moment.  We could instantly see that 4 hours was not going to be enough. 
Like Kids in a Candy Store

When tasting so many beers, it really is hard to keep track of what you have tasted and what you like and don’t like.  I set out to find an awesome IPA, and found two that really stuck out.  The Simptra 3X IPA brewed by Knee Deep Brewing Company in Lincoln, CA and the Dry Rice IPA (DRIPA) from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company in Warren, MI.  The latter was very exciting as we were already planning on visiting Kuhnhenn on our 3rd annual Michigan Beer Trip during the Martin Luther King Day weekend in January 2013.  To give you an idea of the scale of this place, I included a floor layout of the convention center and placed a red dot at the place where Erin and I were standing when we shot the picture above.  

We were standing at the red dot (just inside the entrance) when we shot the photo above

On Saturday, we were able to try the rest of the beers we wanted to taste that we couldn’t on Friday night during a members only session from 12-4pm.  I was completely wiped afterwards and needed a long nap at the hotel.  On both Friday and Saturday evening, we met up with Erin’s friends after the festival.  On Friday, we hung out with her friends from Oklahoma that had traveled there for the GABF.  On Saturday evening, we had dinner and drinks with her friends that live in Boulder who she had got to know during her time in Valdez, Alaska.  

Our second anniversary trip was a great success.  The only thing that didn’t work out in our favor was our anniversary video that we wanted to improve upon from last year.  We didn’t get enough footage for the video, so we had to scratch the idea.  I may try to do some kind of blooper reel instead.  
GABF is during Midterm Break again next fall for all you at Truman!  We won’t be going again, but we do recommend it!


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