The Elizabeth Street Brewery at the GABF

Well, gang. I’m typing this from our “pub garden”, with the Sunday evening NFL game about to start. Our kids are playing here in the backyard and I’m wondering if the last three days in Denver really happened. Thankfully, I have the video footage to prove that it did.

You already saw what happened on the first day.

We took Friday off from the Great American Beer Festival but that pretty much meant that we just drank beer in other places. Namely the Denver Chophouse & Brewery and Falling Rock Tap House. I had already seen the Chophouse and Brewery in Washington D.C. earlier this year and they are pretty similar. However, I’m always a fan of a brewery that puts its serving tanks right behind the bar in full-view. Here is a quick tour of Denver Chophouse & Brewery:

I didn’t want to be the dork who got the video camera out at Falling Rock so you’ll have to forgive me. Just know that the beers there are superb. It gives Toronado in SF and Gingerman down in Austin a good run for their money. I enjoyed a Russian River Brewing Sanctificaton, an unbranded cask milk stout and an Elysian Jasmine IPA. We then met with up Allie’s Uncle Mike and headed over to see the Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals. Even though we’re die-hard San Francisco Giants’ fans, even I couldn’t deny that the Rockies played a great, tight game that was ultimately won in the bottom of the 9th, in part by some pretty clutch pinch-hitting by Jason Giambi. Final score was 2-1. Followed by some pretty cool fireworks:

This was the moment of truth. Our first ever beer brewed on a professional system, entered into our first GABF. We were excited. We were going to get there early and get in line so we could try as many beers as possible on our last session in Denver before leaving for the airport. For those unfamiliar, there are two separate sessions on Saturday – a members only afternoon session from 12:30 – 4:30pm and then another evening session starting an hour later. We were signed up for the afternoon session because that is also when they announce the GABF award winning brews of the year. We showed up to the convention center at 11:50am. I decided to take a video from the front of the line to the rear. It took over 5 minutes…

The same goosebump-inducing entrance greeted us as we ascended the escalator. This time, the pipers were out in full force. Both here…

And inside the GABF, here…

Allie and I were determined to try some Dogfish Head beer before the awards were handed out (I’m so dorky I was fired up that Sam Calagione himself poured our samples for us) so by the time we got over to the ceremony, we had missed the announcement of the first 4 categories. What we didn’t realize for another 25 minutes is that we had already missed the announcement of the winners of the Pro-Am category – in which our Elizabeth Street Bitter had been entered. The build up was all washed away rather flatly to be honest. Allie had gone to the loo, and I recognized another homebrewer who had a beer in the Pro-Am. “We’ll get them next year, eh?” he said… “Oh, did they already announce? Who won?” I asked, non-chalantly. “No one I knew, but I hear the beers are great.” They were. Two were incredibly hoppy IPAs (so much so that I had to drink Allie’s for her) and the bronze went to a very well rounded Belgian.

So that was it. We spent the rest of the afternoon consuming as many rare beers as we could get our hands on and trying to find Shaun O’Sullivan and the 21st Amendment crew who had wonderfully won a bronze medal for the smoked porter… I had to stand on tip-toes to see he and Nico accept the medal but I think I must have been the loudest cheerleader in the crowd. It was great to see other local, favorite brewers win medals – golds to Magnolia, Marin and Bear Republic to name just three! The full list of winners can be found HERE. Interesting stat… of the 3,308 beers entered at the GABF this year, 234 of them were awarded medals. Meaning 93% of entries didn’t receive an award. Stiff competition indeed.

All in all, it was an experience I’ll never forget – and one that I want to be a part of again and again. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve all given us over the past 6 years. One day we hope to be serving you our ales on a daily basis and entering our own beers into the GABF… encouraging other homebrewers to brew on our system and enter beers into the Pro-Am tournament.

2009 has been another step in the right direction for the Elizabeth Street Brewery and I like to think that there are much bigger ones to come in the very near future. Watch this space.


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Filed: Beer Industry, Brewing, ESB Background, Events, Marketing


Rock! Great story…

Posted by: John @ 10:50 pm // October 1, 2009

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