October 23, 2012

My 1st GABF

Our baby boy's no stranger to the beerfest circuit. I like to say Oregon has 53 beer fests because there's seemingly more than one a week. But this was his first time at the big dance. Great American Beer Festival. And in no small way, he has the GABF to thank for his existence. His mom, Half Pint, went for the first time in 2008 when my book came out and hustled outside the Beer Enthusiast Bookstore to help sell a ton of books. She drove out with me again the next year and by the time we got to Denver, she was my fiance. Next year, she was there as my wife. Since we love measuring our life events in terms of GABFs, it's only fitting that we returned this year as parents. And even more fitting that we've turned into chopped liver.

He was able to bob'n'weave through the crowds.

Obviously, he didn't do any beer sampling, but he did enjoy the sampler flight...of pancakes from Snooze. And he picked up an awesome li'l Yeti onesie from Great Divide Brewing on our walk back (photo T/K).

But that was hardly the only brewery he hit. I double checked to make sure we could bring him on the media bus tour. I heard the guide on the other bus was in disbelief someone brought a baby. He wasn't alone. But first... First stop of the tour, Mountain Sun's Vine Street Brewery. Brand new and tapping 21 -- TWENTY-ONE -- house beers. I definitely thought the IPA and Saison were right on. And it's a hippy-dippy hangout of a brewpub.

Next stop: the new River North Brewery, beers made w/ a Belgian yeast strain
And concluded the tour at Colorado's first brewpub, Wynkoop for the tail end of the Pints for Prostates Rare Beer Tasting IV. (Saving the best photo for last if you want to scroll down.) Since Wynkoop released their very real "Rocky Mountain Oyster-Stout" in time for GABF, now's a good time for a short video break.

OK, where were we?
Not everyone who goes to Denver feels this way, but we feel the real highlight of GABF is the fest itself. Beyond the endless one-ounce samples, it's the one place you're likely to bump into old and new friends and members of the beer family at large. Look: IPYae's first fist-bump with Charlie Papazian.
While standing in the bookstore, Izzy met Jack McAuliffe, the man who opened the very first microbrewery post-Prohibition! That was 36 years ago. GABF is on its 31st year. While this naturally was Izzy's first, it was only Jack's second time attending, his New Albion Brewery having gone under before GABF was even a thing.
Author Maureen Ogle did much for revamping interest in those early days of microbrewing and clutching Jack back from obscurity. As Izzy's beery godmother, I think no one looked forward to meeting him more than her. Who else could get her to crawl around on the floor?!

No live recording this year, so this is the closest IPYae gets to being on The Brewing Network. Kate's a fan.
Portland boys: SNOB Ritch Marvin, "Samurai Artist" Ezra Johnson-Greenough, Breakside's Scott Lawrence. 
Finally, considering the small population of babies in attendance (the age requirement is 21+, obviously, but also -2), I think they were all widely photographed. Izzy's bib perhaps gave him added flair. Most people dug seeing a little baby and told us as much. But I got a kick out of walking a few paces behind Half Pint and hearing drunk kids remark, "Who the (hell) brings a baby to GABF?!?"

We do. And unlike their parents, we were very proud of how he handled himself.
Photo credit: Matthew Schniper, courtesy of the Colorado Springs Independent