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  • The final part of the Clips of Faith wrap up (part two).

    To pick up where we left off yesterday, Jesse was in Davis, CA halfway through traveling around this great country with all the fixin's for a fun film and beer festival.  I would also like to present the Clips of Faith 2011 crew (in photo form), Jesse is on the far left (that's why we call him "Very Dressy" Jesse (he looks good, there is no denying it)).

    "The Last Half of the Whole Clips of Faith, 2011":

    Seattle, Washington

    ATTENDENCE: 950

    MONEY  FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $3,797

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: First, Gasworks Park in Seattle is one of the most strangely beautiful places I have ever spent a day. Consisting architecturally of towering industrial relics once used to convert coal and crude oil into gas, this place offers fantastic views of downtown Emerald City, heavy seaplane traffic and kite flying. Secondly, the park has a great sprinkler system, something we and the nearly 1,000 people in attendance realized when they turned on at 10 p.m. (although we had requested that they be turned off). Running away from the spewing sprinkler heads would normally be a great solution, but with the beer garden fencing in place and two slightly dark, remote exits proving to be elusive, running and screaming while continuing to be dowsed with water was the only acceptable move.

     

    Portland, Oregon

    ATTENDENCE: 600

    MONEY RAISED FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $1,295

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: This event was sort of poopy. By that I mean the grounds of the park we were calling home for the day were covered in a nice fresh blanket of goose crap. When scouting sites for the tour, it’s hard to account for everything. In this case, this park was not home to a flock of geese when it was visited months earlier and determined to be a beautiful green space nestled along the Willamette River that would suit our needs wonderfully. Although myself and nearly every piece of our equipment was tainted with a touch of fowl fecal matter that day, our guests still had a great time. Strangely, we did not see an increase in the sale of New Belgium blankets.

     

    Missoula, Montana

    ATTENDENCE: 550

    MONEY RAISED FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $2,269

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Occasionally things need fixin’ when you are out on the road. By “occasionally” I mean all the f’in time. At the conclusion of this event I was charged with the task of bringing four, three-feet-long 1x4’s back to the brewery for repair. The fine folks of the Missoula International Airport’s TSA squad didn’t care much for my new carry-on, as illustrated here:

    “I can’t let you on the plane with that sir,” the TSA agent said, halting the impatient security line.

    “Really? Why not? I’ve seen much longer items allowed on board,” I replied. “Some kid had a skateboard last week.”

    “Your items could be considered a clubbing threat, sir,” the agent said, very sternly.

    “These? The best I could do is spank the heck out of somebody with these,” I replied.

    She laughed. Myself, and my boards, made it safely onto the flight. And no one was spanked in the making of this memory.

     

    Asheville, NC

    ATTENDENCE: 700

    MONEY RAISED FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $2,427

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: This “Beer City USA” was very excited that New Belgium and 15 or so of its delicious beers were in town and ready to make friends. What this city wasn’t excited to do was announce that the only interstate heading to the airport would be closed all day Saturday, the same day myself and two co-workers were scheduled to fly out. At the risk of never being allowed to rent a car again, I’ll admit our trip to the airport turned into something out of Dukes of Hazzard. No, we didn’t jump any freight trains with Sherriff Roscoe Coletrane sucking our tailpipe, but we did exceed posted speed limits while tearing up the back roads of Buncombe County with the help of three people frantically hitting up map apps on iPhones. We made our flight, but didn’t have enough time for one of my shaken passengers to get the vodka drink he was in desperate need of.

     

    Charlotte, North Carolina

    ATTENDENCE: 250

    MONEY RAISED FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $777

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Our hotel was located across the street from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I’m pretty sure my sheets smelled like Richard Petty. What can top that?

     

    Charleston, South Carolina

    ATTENDENCE: 300

    MONEY RAISED FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $1,500

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Let’s talk food. At each tour stop we’d have a great guide to the city in the form of coworkers sprinkled around the nation, Beer Rangers to you. They’d always know where to eat, where to drink and what to avoid. The result is that our team bellied up and/or chowed down at some of the best beer bars and restaurants the US of A has to offer. At this point I decided to eat regionally – basically because the South was forcing it upon us. Biscuits came with everything (so many that a coworker started pocketing them for midnight snacks) and I was once blessed with a fried tomato on my roast beef sandwich. Yes, fried. When in Rome, I decided that for the next month my time would be well spent eating as many orders of Shrimp and Grits as I could. I only managed to put 10 servings in my belly. Only so many hours in a day.

     

    Atlanta, Georgia

    ATTENDENCE: 450

    MONEY RAISED FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $2,440

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Pretty standard event here, other than one of our food vendors showing up with the recreational vehicle from the Bill Murray and Harold Ramis classic film “Stripes.” And now a moment of reading silence for an awesome movie quote: “Chicks dig me because I rarely wear underwear, and when I do, it’s usually something unusual.”

     

    Athens, Georgia

    ATTENDENCE: 500

    MONEY RAISED FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $2,163

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: A guy from Iowa who has never been further east in the United States than Chicago can learn much traveling around the nation. Our site in Athens was a city block that ended at the intersection of Washington and Lumpkin Streets, also known as “Hot Corner.” This was the center of cultural life – and too often conflict - in the African American community during the 50s and 60s. Along with Charleston’s many Civil War relics, this summer afforded me a very important education not available growing up amongst the corn.

     

    Knoxville, Tennessee

    ATTENDENCE: 550

    MONEY RAISED FOR LOCAL NONPROFITS: $3,572

    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Like I said, learning opportunities are everywhere while traveling. That’s why when I walked in on two parks & rec workers from this fine city debating the merits of mixing Gatorade with moonshine, I dropped everything and sat down with ears wide open. Who cares if I needed them to turn the electricity on? Everything else could wait. For the record, we all ended up agreeing to be pro-moonshine Gatorades.

     

    All in all, 11,000 attendees helped Clips of Faith raise nearly $59,000 for nonprofits around the country, bringing the two year total to $91,000. We even kept it green, our recycling and composting efforts resulting in an average waste diversion rate of 91 percent. Not bad for a beer company. If you’d like to attend 2012 Clips of Faith, keep tabs on tour planning at clipsoffaith.com. Cheers.

     

    Thanks for the wrap up Jesse, sounds like you had a great summer (and spring and fall) and the fans of Clips of Faith (present and future) thank you for your contributions to the summertime-highway-of-laughs-and-good-times-as-presented-by-the-New-Belgium-Brewing-CO. 

    See you next year,

    Juicebox

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  • Presents!

    The giving-of-gift-type holidays are upon us and I am here to make sure you fine people make the right choices in the what to give your loved ones department...  Let me take this moment and introduce Shelby.  Shelby is a member of the New Belgium family and the head-artist-in-charge over at Meadowlark Creative, a local letterpress shop here in the Northern Colorado area.  Shelby was commissioned to make some coaster calenders in the NBB theme. A coaster calender is exactly what it sounds like, coasters (beer mats) that double as a monthly calender.  We like them a lot, and we figured they would make great gifts...

    Unsure about letterpressing?  Here is a blurb from the mouth of Shelby herself-

    Sometime inbetween the invention of movable type and proliferation of 24-hour copy centers, the craft of letterpress printing evolved from an essential trade to a forgotten one. Abandoned by all but a few craftsmen, the art of letterpress printing became that of a bygone era. Printing, it seemed, had lost its soul, its beauty, and its individuality.

    Meadowlark Creative is bringing it back.

     

    And with gusto. These Calenders are made by hand in Shelby's shop.  Each coaster was hand-fed 3 separate times into her vintage 10x15 Chandler and Price letterpress for three "hits" per coaster.  She printed 450 calenders sets with 13 coasters per set, that comes to 39 feedings at 450 times (holy smokes... that's 17,550 total impressions).  All said and done Shelby said it took her 30 hours to get them all done, pressed, organized and packed.

    It was totally worth the effort, they look amazing, and you should buy a set.  There are two ways for you to purchase these little gems. 

    Way one:  Head right over to Shelby's Etsy page at http://www.meadowlarkcreative.etsy.com and purchase direct from the artist.

    Way two:  Come on in to the brewery and buy from us.  The advantage to coming by the Liquid Center for purchase is that you also receive a beetle-kill wood stand for great displaying of the coasters in question (and you get to enjoy a beer or two). 

    This is a great gift idea for everyone who needs to take note of the date (which I assume is almost everyone).  So get after it friends, it is time to bring handmade back into our collective lexicon and give gifts of meaning that were made with love.

    _Juicebox

    PS... Photo credits go to Carrie Burger (she did a real nice job).

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  • Fresh Hop IPA, Part 2

    Following up Kenny's, Fresh Hop IPA, part one post from Tuesday is going to be a challenge, but I think this is Juicebox's time to shine.  So let's get right after it.

    Let me introduce Fresh Hop IPA, Part 2-

    It was a Sunday Morning, I was sleepy and hungry but alas, duty called.  I had been calling over to the Brewhouse all morning trying to get an ETA for the hops arrival and I was finally told (after much pestering) that the first brew had been mashed in at 10am and the hop truck was south of Laramie, Wy (which, by all mapping standards, is pretty close).  I grabbed the camera and cruised over to the brewery.  The plan was that a few of us would be needed and needing to show up at the designated hour to unload the reefer truck and hand carry the bags and boxes of fresh hops up to the hatch on the lauter tun, which would be used for hopbacking purposes.  When I looked at that truck full of hops my back started hurting and my hands got really chapped (I am, some how, allergic to actual labor) but with the help of some trusty co-workers we started carrying stuff and I felt instantly better, as a box of fresh hops looks heavy, but in reality, it's not that bad.

    The fresh hop bill went like this, a whole bunch of wet Amarillo, then a mess of wet Centennials, and finally a large helping of wet Cascades.  As we carried we had to make sure that the boxes that were being pulled off the truck were, in fact, the right boxes.  We had enough fresh hops for four brews, but we wanted to leave the hops for the later brews in the cooling air of the reefer truck, so planning as we were lifting was required.  But no big deal, Alex (the maiden of fresh hop logistics) was on hand, she directed and we carried.  Upon getting all the boxes up to the top of the lauter it was only a few minutes before the dumping had to commence.  The 6 of us lending a hand started to goof off (as expected) and we decided to fresh hop a few Blue Paddles to sip on as we were waiting.  Now Blue Paddle is one of my favorites.  It's a pilsener with the nice refreshing bite of hops, not to much, just a subtle bitterness.  Someone thought it a grand idea (it may have been me) to unload a couple wet hops from the boxes and toss them into a globe glass of Paddle.  Now I understand that no heat was going to be applied for alpha-acid extraction and the time frame of stuffing a couple hop cones into a beer and then drinking said beer would not be enough time impart much hoppiness in a cold environment either, but I figured it would at least make a good picture and then we could drink the beer (a win-win in my book).  And look, the picture came out pretty cool and almost everyone finished their hop-floating Blue Paddle during our goof off time. 

    As we were tipping back the final sips of our first beer break we got the charge. Someone yelled "pour them hops into that hatch" and everyone jumped into action.  Bag after bag, box after box of fresh, 18 hour old Yakima-born wet hops were poured right into our Colorado-located lauter tun.  Again, as Kenny described in part one, the brew would be mashed in, lautered, boiled and then sent back to the lauter tun where a bed of fresh hops would be waiting for the hot and steamy wort.  We were pouring these hop flowers in the lauter tun just as the boil was just finishing.  It was only going to take 10 or 15 minutes to soak in that hoppy flavor in the lauter (turned hopback) so our window (as with the rest of this project) was pretty small.  We were dumping as fast as we could to build that beautiful (and comfortable looking) bed of fresh hop flowers.  The lauter tun has a big rake in it that is normally used to keep the grain bed level during right when the rake got firingits normal duties, but during the fresh hopping segment of the brew the rake was employed to level out the hops and it worked great. The rake was spinning and the final couple of boxes were poured in and we locked the hatch.  Soon after the hatch was closed and lock the freshly boiled wort came flooding in.  It was a sight to see, all steamy and green and awesome.  It was also really funny to step back and watch six grown adults all fighting over the view into a very small window, it was like a bunch of kids at Disney World shoving at each other to get a better look through the glassy bottomed boat.  It really was beer making at its finest and I was happy to be there. 

    As soon as the hop soak was done and the wort left the lauter it headed for the chiller before going straight into the cellar for the yeast pitch and brew one was done.  We all high-fived.  As the high fives were going off the unmistakable sound of barley filling the wet mill filled our ears.  That sound meant the next brew was starting and it was only a few more bits until the next load of boxes needed to come upstairs for the fresh hop dumping and the reality hit... we were going to be doing this all day.

    The time frame dubbed "several weeks later" is now upon us and Fresh Hop IPA is on tap towers and store shelves in markets abound, but what does this beer taste like.  Well it is an IPA, and a bold one at that.  The nose is full of orange peel and a fresh, woods-i-ness that can only come from American hops.  It has strong, sharp bitterness in flavor and a bold, enjoyable bite on the tongue.  This is a great beer, and  very drinkable at 70 IBU's. Fresh Hop IPA is strongish at 7% ABV and has that wonderful greenness of a good fresh hopped beer.

    Overall the process to make a fresh hop beer on a big scale in Colorado is difficult, but not impossible.  Inspiration, hard work and the love of hoppy beers were all driving forces to bring this beer to you.  Was it worth it?  Drink some, and you tell me...

    -JUICEBOX and KENNY

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  • NEW BEER! Another Seasonal Addition for Winter

    New Belgium has a new winter seasonal, it's called Snow Day.  It is dark and hoppy and perfect for the coldest of months.   The tough news to take on the NBB seasonal front however is the hiatus that 2Below is going to take, two years off the shelf to make room for Snow Day.  But fear not good people, the newest of New Belgium offerings is a true delight, so good in fact I drank one this morning and wrote a review just for you.  I figured with Snow Day beginning to hit the shelves over the next few weeks you should be armed with the knowledge required of an informed consumer. 

    Let's start with the bottle picture, pretty isn't it?  That label shows off a winter-wonderland-like-vision of the Mothership and the amazing (and amazingly huge) window into Brewhouse One.  It also shows just how much snow can pile up in your imagination when you're thinking about the perfect beer for an unexpected day off.  This label is another Anne Fitch gem.  Anne has been painting labels for us since our co-founder Kim Jordan knocked on her door looking for Fat Tire and Abbey bottle art 20 years ago, and she nailed it again.  The winter season also marks the yearly cap change (visible in the photo), once the days start to shorten the white replaces the red, and it always makes me long for pond hockey season.  Then the red cap comes back in spring and it makes me pine for bike camping.

    I popped the bottle open and poured the beer into it's neighboring globe glass.  Snow Day pours dark, like very dark, black in fact. The black beer builds a strong, walnut-hued head.  The foam was very sturdy and did want to dissipate (like at all).  The aroma was strong, I only had to tilt my head slightly towards the glass to start picking it up.  On the nose the hops are very present.  This beer has Cascade, Centennial and Styrian Golding hops and the spicy tones were complimented by the Pacific Northwest (of America) hoppy-citrus punch, creating a full, round hop-o-sphere to take through the nose holes of your face. Upon first sip I was taken aback with the unexpected.  Looking at the dark color of Snow Day I was expecting a strong, roasted bitterness.  I was fooled.  The darkness in this beer comes from a new brewing malt called Midnight Wheat, it imparts a blackness to the color but does not give the burnt, acridity found in a lot of darker beers.  This wheat malt lends a good (almost) sweetness as well as that easy, smoothness found in a good wheat beer.  The sweetness in this beer bordered on the edge of chocolate (maybe coffee too) and these flavors were launched into flavor orbit when considered along side the hoppy bitterness also found in Snow Day.  The mouthfeel was pretty easy, very crisp and more refreshing than I would expect from a winter beer.  The finish had a subtle dryness, just enough to leave the palate feeling clean, but not sucked of it's moisture.  I enjoyed the sample sips so much I went back for more to the same end (the end is yums-ville (and we all have tickets for the ride)). 

    This beer is winner.  I too will miss 2Below, but I am really excited about Snow Day.  The hole in my heart left behind by 2Below caesura will be filled (beyond capacity) with Snow Day and fun winter activities (like pond Hockey).  This beer should be available soon (assuming you live within our distribution area) if it isn't already.  So get out there my friends and start embracing winter.

    XO,

    Juicebox

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  • Who Wants a Beer Cocktail?

    My love of Blue Paddle and orange juice is widely known.  I have written about it a few times and even produced the most loved recipe (see link).  I would like to take today and show off some other beer cocktails that are close to my heart and taste good on my tongue.   These drinks are good and the mixer procurement should be pretty easy, so if something strikes your fancy- mix away (but make sure to send me the royalties check).  I also added some pairing ideas to ice the cake (if you know what I mean).

    Drink one: The Depth Charge- 10oz of 1554 mixed with two shots of warm espresso.  The warmth of the coffee thaws the cold beer to just the right slightly-lower-than-room temperature kind of temperature to bring out all of the rich dark tones of the 1554.  I recommend this beer in the AM hours as an eye opener, the caffeine is definitely present and the acidity of the coffee brings a pleasant bitterness to this not so bitter dark beer.  Pair with pancakes and maple syrup.

    Drink two: The Brass Shandy- 12oz of Ranger IPA mixed with 4oz of your favorite mango/lime juice (I chose Odwalla Mango Lime Twist).  This cocktail was great for the hoppy beer drinker.  It was bitter and awesome.  The Cascade hops leapt off the nose and the taste was a spicy-citrus punch of bitter and lime.  The lime enhances the bitterness to big levels and the overall grapefruit-ed-ness of the Ranger was sent rolling in the hay with the soft fruit tones of the mango.  Pair with tofu pad-Thai, extra spicy.

    Drink three: The Frenchie- 3oz of La Folie mixed with 1oz of pomegranate juice.  HOLY SMOKES!  This is amazing! The sweetness of the juice mellows the sour of the wood aged La Folie and makes it taste almost like a fruit beer (which I guess it is with fruit juice in it).  The sour, when mixed with the strong, sacchariferous juice turns into the sharp blade of the beer rather than the broad edge.  This has dessert written all over it.  Pair with vanilla ice cream with strawberries placed atop. 

    Drink four: The Sunshine Spritz- 12oz of Sunshine Wheat mixed with 4oz of San Pellegrino's Limonata.  The Limonata on its own is almost to much for my palate.  It is a very spritzy lemon drink that registers very low on the sweet scale.  I like tart stuff a lot, but this drink is cranked to 11.  However, when you pour one part Limonata to 3 parts Sunshine Wheat the tartness of the lemon is called to a background role and the sweetness of the lemon steps up front to hold hands and bow in time with the deafening applause of Sunshine's orange peel spice.  And the extra bubbliness of the San Pellegrino gives this beer cocktail a spritzer like feel that is down right refreshing.  Pair with a melon-heavy fruit salad.

    Drink five:  The Baby Blue- Blue Paddle served over ice in a globe glass.  The piece de resistence (so to speak) of beer cocktails.  This takes my all time favorite summer beer and makes it even summer-i-er.  Keeping the Blue Paddle cold and (eventually) lowering the ABV as it melts, the ice enhances this beer into the upper stratosphere of drinkability.  It is so simple and so perfect and you should absolutely try this at home.  Pair with a warm-to-hot day full of Lawn Darts and bar-b-qued meat (still on the bone).

    Beer cocktails are delicious and coming up strong in the press right now, everybody is concocting their own gems and I felt I could add to this spreading fire.  Hope this inspires you to get your mix on and try something new.

    xo,

    juicebox

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  • An (almost) perfect pairing...

    A few months ago I mused about one of my favorite beer and food pairings, hot dogs with yellow mustard paired with Sunshine Wheat.  This pair has everything, complimentary flavors, ease of preparation and just enough of that low-brow shenanigan to have mass appeal.  I was in heaven then and I should be in heaven now because the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile just stopped by the brewery!  That's right, a giant hot dog driven by a real person pulled into the New Belgium parking lot.  Let's face it, I love anything that looks like food, but huge.  Just look at the really large pretzel necklace I wore to GABF in last week's post, or that gi-normous cherry on a gi-normous spoon in Minneapolis (pictured to your right with the Tour de Fat crew in 2009).  So when this gargantuan grandstander pulled into the lot I got gitty with glee (and alliteration).  I saw this as a perfect opportunity to launch the Sunshine Wheat/ hot dog pair into the internet stratosphere!  I went running (literally) to the Wienermobile.  Upon getting to the Wienermobile I realized that in my haste I had forgotten the Sunshine, so I went running back to the Brewery, inside I grabbed a sixer of SW and then went running again towards the fortuitous frankfurter. 

    Back at the giant hot dog I was told that normal sized hot dogs will not be made available.  With further questioning I was let in on the meanest joke of all time, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile does not give away hot dogs.  In fact the Wienermobile is not even equipped to cook cylindrical sirloins for even the most rabid fan.  Downtrodden (and weighed down by the seemingly useless six pack of Sunshine Wheat), I hung my head and started to wonder if the perfect beer and food pairing would ever go viral.

    I decided, right there in the parking lot that I would not let this cruel joke sway me from trying.  I figured that maybe the giant wiener paired with a Sunshine six pack in photos would be enough.  So here is my attempt, in full go-ahead mode:

    Tonight, after work (or whatever you may find yourself doing in the pre-dinner hours) go to the grocery shop and purchase a ten pack of delicious Oscar Mayer Wieners and a dozen of your favorite hot dog buns (an aside, this is a link to an awesome post about the 10 pack of dogs versus the 12 pack of bun conundrum facing many tubed meat enthusiasts).  When you arrive home prepare your dogs in the method that suits you best.  I prefer the straight forward boiling water approach, but you may like the bar-b-que, or maybe even the microwave (warning: microwaving hot dogs may drain the nutritional value directly out of the dog and into the atmosphere (and you may want avoid that)).  Once cooked place the steaming hot dog into the pre-opened bun (toasted if you like). The next step is a very important one, mustard selection.  Some of you may prefer the fancy brown or spicy mustards (I like to call them boutique mustards) but let me caution you away from this choice.  It is in the best interest of the beer and food pairing to go with straight "yellow mustard" (of the French's variety).  Take the squeeze bottle of that French's Classic Yellow Mustard and drizzle three fine lines across the dog laden bun.  As your mustard is becoming more viscous on the hot meat and soaking further into the bun proceed to the refrigerator and extract one bottle of Sunshine Wheat.  Crack the beer and pour it into your favorite beer glass.  With the plated up dog and glassed up beer in hand mosey over to the table and mentally prepare yourself for the pairing of the century.

    As you take in the hot dog's first bite chew thoughtfully, take in the light spice of the mustard and the warm fragrance of the dog.  Notice how the bun playfully dries out the mouthfeel.  Right when that dryness of the bun is coming to a head and you still have a partial mouthful of masticated hot dog take a swig of that Sunshine.  Feel how the beer reinvigorates the bite, moistens it back to perfection.  The orange peel and coriander of the Sunshine start to wrap themselves around the mustard spice.  Finish chewing and then swallow, your mouth is awash with wonderment.  Take a minute now and lean back, enjoy the first interaction with the pair because the rest of that hot dog and beer will not take very long to finish.

    Now, I wish (in my heart of hearts) that the Wienermobile and I could have shared this together, but alas, it was almost a perfect pair.

    -Juicebox

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  • I went to GABF and lived to tell the story...

    HOLY SMOKES!  I almost didn't make it out of there alive.  GABF has come and gone for 2011 and it was truly a success.  But as promised, I took some photos and jotted some notes and I would love to present that information to you... and if there is time, my predictions for some of the categories winners (even though the medal ceremony is over and all the winners have gone home already).  This is a long one so hang on, here it goes--->

    I was running late, like super late, I was coming off giving a tour of NBB HQ and my ride was waiting and my phone was dieing and I felt flustered.  Her car was parked in the loading zone and she started to roll off as she lowered her backseat window and I jumped in (head first (like superman (only larger and conspicuously cape-less))).  But upon the thud of landing we were headed to Denver.  We had a couple scheduled stops (again, mostly my fault) but we made it there just after the doors to the festival opened.  Last year I had a real nice lanyard (credentials baby) which granted me access to the door without a line, but this year was different, I had a mere ticket which relegated me to the back of the line (and boy-howdy, that line was huge).  We found the back of that line eventually and then started making our way towards the entry door.

    Upon getting in to the big show I decided it prudent to head directly towards the New Belgium Booth to take a look see and start my evening of with a delicious Belgo IPA.  My mind was immediately blown.  That new booth had everything: gorgeous art, lots of tap handles and a line of people to back it up.  The folks who designed and built this booth (Ryan and Troy and Karen, et al...) should really be high in their boots right now because they did a tremendous job.  And as my plan would suggest I started my evening with a 1oz pour of delicious Belgo IPA.  Now, if you read this blog (even sometimes) you should know that I love Belgo IPA.  Truth be told I just love Belgian style IPA's but Belgo is my favorite and that small plastic glass of love was the right way to start out my GABF tasting adventures.

    After that quick NBB stop I promptly headed towards the Midwest.  I hail from the great state of Missouri and I love tasting the beers from my hometown as well as other adjacent Midwestern cities.  Town Hall had a lavender explosion of wonderful-ness in LSD and O'Fallon's Pumpkin was great too.  I made stops at Boulevard and Mother's and many other great USA-centered breweries before heading into the wilds of the Northeast.  Allagash (as always) provided unbelievable beers and great companionship.  To the dismay of the building line behind me I stayed up front at the Allagash booth chit-chatting and sipping some amazing beers.  The Curieux was great, as was the Coolship Resurgam, wild and crazy and quenching and awesome. 

    Now at this stage in the GABF game I was plan-less.  Last year I stuck with sours and had a fun time (and by the end, a stomach ache), but this year I was hoping to just mosey about until a plan presented itself.  35 minutes in and no ideas had surfaced so I figured I'd better head into the great and hoppy wilds of the Pacific Northwest before my aimless ways blew out my palate prematurely. I stopped first at Breakside Brewery and upon tasting my first sample there a plan became clear.  I drank Farmhouse Grisette and from that moment on (GABF and otherwise) I wanted to drink nothing but sessionable saisons. This beer was somewhere hanging about 3.2% ABV and the saison characteristics were still very present.  There was a touch of fruitiness, a light, delicate balance of the funk/tart, and it was drinkable till daybreak.  I absolutely loved this beer and it set the bar for my new favorite style (sorry Belgian style IPA's). The problem with this plan, however, was that over the next two and a half hours of this GABF sipping time I found less than a couple other low alcohol saisons; (Fort Collins local) Funkwerks Saison is one great beer but the 6.2% ABV removes it from the front porch sessionability of a great low-octane beer.  So thanks to Breakside I was heartbroken and then further heartbroken when I realized my next trip to Portland isn't even planned yet, so who knows when I will get to enjoy their wonderful beers again, sigh...

    But my GABF Pacific Northwest wanderings were not quite done.  I have been a fan of Deschutes since my ill-fated move to Bend, Oregon in the year 2000.  I left Bend a mere 8 months later but my love of their brews continues today.  I stopped by to try the Deschutes/ Boulevard Collaboration: Conflux number 2. The beer was amazing, flat out, a wheat IPA, so good.  And then I noticed that Deschutes had a branded spit-toon.  As I was stepping back to try it out (fresh cheek full of chaw) Alicia from Deschutes politely asked to keep the spit-toon for beer related spits only.  Which I guess I can understand, but I bet I could have hit that thing from 10 yards (I have been practicing and the spit accepting hole on that spit-toon was huge).  I also had 1oz pour of Stoic while at the Deschutes booth and was blown away (again (every time I have that beer it is a borderline religious experience)).

    Then, as typical at this stage in the GABF game, my palate went the way of the Kangaroo Island Emu and I could no longer taste anything, so I set out to snap a few more photos before my phone died (and took my camera with it).  I have an affinity for pretzels and outdoing people so I brought this as my pretzel necklace (see image to the right).  It tasted like plastic and wasn't very filling but man, it was huge and it grabbed people's attention.  I also thought it relevant (based on my love of pretzels) to head on over to the Snyder's of Hanover booth to say hello and talk about the ancient art of pretzel making (a study of mine).  It was here that I ran into my long lost German relatives Ingrid and Bert.  I have not seen these two since their last trip to the USA and I had not expected to see them at GABF.  I mean sure, they are beer lovers (and fancy dressers) but Germany is a long ways away.  Needless to say it was nice to see them.  We are all pictured together and the photo caught the moment in which I was explaining my family relations and their outfits to the Snyder's of Hanover spokesman, they were super impressed that my cousin Bert had our family crest on his lederhosen.

    It was then (walking from the Snyder's booth) that I ran into Eric from www.focusonthebeer.com.  He is a good friend and truly a gifted beer blogger.  If you don't read Focus on the Beer already follow the link over and check it out, great stuff.  Anyway, Eric and I were talking about GABF and the great beers we had tried to that point (he talked about the Coche de Medinoche from Elysian (or was that me (I don't know)).  We were also trying to make plans for some beer sipping after GABF closed for the night.  It was the heat of the moment, I was so excited about running into him and the possibility of hanging out with him later and the mood caught me just right.  Yep, I kissed him.  It was a big moment and luckily it was caught on camera.

    Then the 2011 edition of the Great American Beer Festival ended, some of us headed to the bar and some of us headed home.  It was a good session and fun was had by all (but especially Eric (look at that face)) and now we can all start looking forward to 2012 and the 31st GABF.

    As far as my predictions for the medal winners go, I have none (I was just joking about that).  But I am super excited to say that Le Terroir, New Belgium's own dry hopped sour ale took home GOLD in the American Sour category and in total Colorado craft beer took home 39 medals. It's really is amazing to be part of this beer community and to be able to call American Craft Beer home.

    To GABF! CHEERS!

    XOXO,

    Juicebox

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  • It is time for GABF!

    This week in Colorado beer is a big one.  It is time for the Great American Beer Festival, and I (for one) am excited.  This is the biggest beer festival in the U.S. and the statistics are staggering.  Something like 450 breweries and over 2,000 beer to chose from.  Last year I found some real gems and this year is promising to be no different.  I am heading down Thursday night for the session and I am taking a camera, a notepad and a few close friends (and professional beer sippers) and I promise a write up even bigger and bolder than that of last year (I am shooting for a Pulitzer with this one).

    A few breweries I am looking forward to visiting...

    1. Ithaca Beer Company

    2. Cigar City Brewing Company

    3. Hopworks Urban Brewery

    4. Jolly Pumpkin

    5. Upright Brewing

     

    Some non-beer-consumption-things related to my attendance of GABF that I am looking forward to...

    1. Hilarious beer ad placement, like urinal mats and whoopie cushions

    2. Seeing all my beer blogger friends and asking them the worst GABF question of all..."what's your favorite beer so far?"

    3. Pre-festival-pre-game at the Falling Rock Tap House

    4. Making jokes about the pretzel necklace varietal infusions and bombasity of said pretzel necklaces

    5. Asking myself the persistent question "just what is that jarringly sour aroma hanging in the air?"

     

    As you can see (read) I am ready for GABF and the shenanigans that will be assured in attending the largest beer festival around.  I am also looking to make predictions for the medal winners and seeing as how I might not be able to get this up-coming post up before the medals are awarded look for me to make bold claims of certitude (after the fact) and be right about most things.  And based on all the sour beers I am no doubt going to try there is all but a guarantee that my stomach will hurt upon my homecoming.  So tune in friends, this will be awesome.

     

    -JUICEBOX

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  • We made a new beer with Clutch, it's called Clutch, and it is great!

    That's right folks, beer lovers and lovers of hard rock will be further intermingling by the end of this week (or maybe the next (depending where in our distribution area you live)) because Clutch is about to hit the shelves. 

    This beer started as a chance encounter in a sandwich shop between a band (Clutch) and a fan (NBB brewer Eric Salazar), play the video to check out the story, it's pretty awesome.

    Now that you're fully entertained (you know, visually) let's stimulate your mind and your taste buds.  Clutch is a dark sour ale, and a very good one.  After many minutes of wandering the beer factory looking for a bottle to sample I found hidden under a shelf in the cooler, I grabbed it and then gathered a few co-workers to have a tasting. Clutch is great.  This beer falls into our Lips of Faith category and is going to be available in 22oz bottles only.  There is a rich, chocolatey malt backbone that holds the beer very upright, good posture.  Most dark, malty beers (stouts) linger in my mouth, something about the sugars, it just seems to hang out for a long time.  This isn't a bad thing, but you have to like the flavor of the beer because it is not going anywhere soon.  With Clutch the flavor is fantastic but the lingering doesn't happen, the dark malty sugars hanging out on your tongue get wiped clean with the sour.  Clutch beer has just enough sour to be an edge, the edge is a sharp one, but not overpowering.  The sour-stout is a new style for me, I have never had a beer like this in my whole life, it's like a revelation.  It's reminiscent (almost) of a chocolate covered cherry, but a 9% ABV chocolate covered cherry.  The stout notes hold this beer up, in fact it would stand on it's own very well as a stout, without the sour, but the wood beer in the blend brings a new kind of punch, (to steal a line from a dear friend) it feels like an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove.  This is another great beer to add to the door of your refrigerator, get some friends together, crank From Beale Street to Oblivion, pour some glasses of Clutch and get taken away by this pair, dark sour and rock and roll.  

    Turns out Clutch knows a lot about beer (and rock and roll), and Eric knows a lot about rock and roll (and beer) and it all came together with a collaboration for the ages.  I'm glad Clutch stopped by the brewery on a Monday, and I'm glad Eric wanted the Pickle Barrel that day as well, because I am having a hard time imagining a world without this amazing beer.

    xoxo,

    Juicebox

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