Day One of the Great American Beer Festival Sessions was bustling with excitement. With many familiar faces and many new ones, the energy in the hall was high with excitement. I'm a bit of a planner so I knew which breweries I wanted to hit up before the flood of thirsty attendees came rampaging through the isle. I grabbed @windaddict and @beachbumchris, and we jumped into the fast growing New Glarus line. By the time 5:20pm rolled around, the line was already 50 people deep, and we were happily at the front.
The reason for my quick jump into the New Glarus line was for the delicious raspberry tart. I had tried some last year, and I couldn't wait to try it again. Apparently neither could anyone else as they ran out halfway into the session. This raspberry tart is incredibly sweet and fruit as you'd expect, almost like a raspberry soda. While this type isn't as common in the beer world, it surely is a coveted one. The Enigma is a wonderfully delicious sour brown ale. Smooth, sweet cherry, barley, and vanilla notes in an oh-so-complex marriage, it is absolutely delicious. Congrats again, New Glarus, for impressing my palate once again.
This photo by John M. P. Knox.
Prior to the session, I was lucky enough to interview Alaskan Brewing outside of the flurry of activity. I was interested in what the brewery representatives thought about their Fire and Ice: Beer and Seafood Throwdown session on Saturday night, but I got some pretty interesting inside scoop about the brewery. Nestled in a town of 30,000, Alaskan Brewing's reach extends far and wide. The line to sample their beers at the first session was fairly steady with smoked porter being a popular request (photo below). The smoke porter had an amazing dark, rich color and a smoky aroma that is sure to make any Texan barbeque connoisseur green with envy.
At the rare beer tasting, Alaskan Brewing will be sampling their smoked porter aged in Jack Daniel's barrels. I'm pretty stoked about that one. Other fun things that the brewery does is allow their employees to come up with new recipes in a small batch. Recipes that are well-liked are moved up into bigger batches and potentially brewed for distribution in bottles. Some of the interesting brews that may or may not have made it to distribution are the mango wheat, gluten free, white ale, stone brew, and double black IPA. The stone brew is pretty interesting as they tried to brew it with stones, literally. The stones weren't for the flavor, but rather for the heat. I'm told that the stone recipe wasn't tried again.
If you are catching their Saturday night session, look for salmon poached in Alaskan Amber with red pepper garnish and lemon drizzle and Dungeness crab salad.
Photo of Charlie Brown from Alaskan pouring a sample by John M. P. Knox.
As part of my media package, I was also given a ticket to attend the Farm to Table Pavilion where beer and food are paired. The food was prepared by the Culinary School for the Rockies, and the beers were donated by the breweries. Let the food and beer porn begin!
House made pork sausage with smoked fingerling potato and mixed cabbage and pear slaw served with Victory Brewery V12.
Spice cake with roasted pear compote and honey goat cheese cream served with Stone Brewing Co. Sawyer's Triple
Mini Rosemary Buffalo burger with Windsor Dairy Bleu Cheese and Caramelized Onion on a Brioche Bun served with Stone Brewing Co. Saison du Buff
Hazel Dell Wild Mushrooms and Thyme with Creamy Polenta served with Odell Brewing Co. Woodcut #3
Tripple M Bar Ranch Lamb Polpette, mint pesto, goat cheese, curry pinenuts, micro basil, balsamic reduction served with Ninkasi Summer Radiant Ale
I really loved this New Holland Brewing Company bottle. The pig is flying.
Sebbie from Rogue Ale gifted me with this hilarious "family planning device." I love that is says "Rise Up!" I'll report that it is slightly larger than the one I got at SXSW Music.