Ask any of the beer-loving Binny's employees about this year's Great American Beer Festival, and they'll answer with one word: Incredible. From tequila barrel aged lagers to an unbelievable number of sours, they tasted everything they could to really experience GABF. With a few quick stops at local Colorado breweries, here is their take on GABF.  

Binny's GABF

  Congratulations to our local friends who brought home a few medals including...   Temperance Beer Co. Gatecrasher IPA: Silver 5 Rabbit Cerveceria 5 Rabbit Golden Ale: Silver Two Brothers Brewing Co. Sour Beer #2: Gold Half Acre Beer Co. Heyoka: Silver   Click here the full list of GABF winners.   Your biggest takeaway from GABF?   Beer drinkers have a wide range of palates which allows for the thousands of breweries that exist to still be successful. We saw people from all over the country and everybody has different likes and opinions. This allows all breweries, big and small, to thrive in this competitive market. - Jim from Downers Grove   The sheer size of the event. Despite competing for awards, everyone is very friendly and cooperative with each other. - Ross from Lakeview   The event touches so many people and offers them beer that is sometimes not available in their region, state, or country. With that being said, it is crucial for continued growth of the craft beer industry that this event takes place. - Charlie from Bloomingdale   If you think you know a lot about breweries in the United States, this event will humble you. For every attendee, there are several hundred breweries that they have never heard of. - Kyle from Willowbrook   There is a lot of really good beer out there. - Chuck from Niles   It gave me a larger glimpse of how incredibly huge the brewing community is in the US. Plus, no matter the size of the brewery, everyone respects what each other brings to the table, knowing that they all started small at the beginning of their careers. - Andy from Champaign     What beers were "must trys" for everyone?   New Belgium's La Terroir and Salted Chocolate Belgium Stout. Left Hand will soon be releasing what is temporarily called "Wicked Juju." A darker version of their Juju Ginger- it was delicious. - Jim from Downers Grove   There were a lot of limited releases and so many brewers that are well known but not available in this market. (Fat Heads from Ohio, Cigar City from Florida, the Brew Kettle from Ohio, etc.) - Ross from Lakeview   Epic Brewing's Brainless on Peaches. - Charlie from Bloomingdale   Funkwerks, Almanac, Toppling Goliath, Cigar City, and several other renowned breweries that don't distribute in Illinois. We also tried to find one off beers from some of our favorite breweries from the Midwest that we do have experience with. - Kyle from Willowbrook   New Belgium Le Terrior 2014, Oskar Blues Chinook Dales Pale, New Glarus Brown Peach and Left Hand Wicked Juju. - Chuck from Niles   I really enjoyed trying the several variations of sours that were presented throughout the festival. From Funkwerks, to New Belgium Lips of Faith, to Epic Brewing, to Goose Island, to The Bruery..there were some really great sours! - Andy from Champaign     Which brewery had the longest line?   Avery. Every time I went by there were at least 15-25 people in line. - Jim from Downers Grove   Russian River, Three Floyds and Dogfish Head. - Ross from Lakeview   Russian River had the longest line I saw. They have the longest line at every beer festival they are at. Three Floyd's was also long. - Kyle from Willowbrook   Russian River and New Glarus. - Chuck from Niles   Goose Island, Lagunitas, Avery and Cigar City Brewing. - Andy from Champaign     Based on the event, what's the next big trend in beer?   Sours and Berliner Weisse style beers. Super popular plus I think people are looking to drink more sessionable beers. - Jim from Downers Grove   Brewers are using non-traditional and botanical ingredients in their brews in place of hops for bittering. - Charlie from Bloomingdale   I think the next big trend will be Berliner Weiss style beers, which are basically session or drinkable sours. I tried more Berliner Weiss at this festival than I have in my lifetime. - Kyle from Willowbrook   Barrel aging with anything and everything! - Chuck from Niles   Sours, sours, sours! And barrel aging. We are not only seeing bourbon barrel aged beers, but also rum barrels, scotch barrels, tequila barrels and previously used wine barrels. - Andy from Champaign     What was the most ridiculous piece of food people wore around their necks?   Pretzels, cheese sticks and smoked sausage - all one one necklace. - Jim from Downers Grove   A necklace made of Slim Jims. - Kyle from Willowbrook   Samoas... Yes, the Girl Scout cookie. Also Cheese Its. It must of taken a lot of work to string it through the tiny holes in the center. - Chuck from Niles   There were a lot of pretzels, but one guy got creative with his beard and groomed it as a hop! - Ross from Lakeview

Hop Beard at GABF

    What's the most abstract beer you tried?   A sour that was aged in used Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, delicious! - Jim from Downers Grove   Scratch Brewing 105, Burdock Sahti and Nettle-Ginger Saison. All three brewed with no hops and each with over 100 ingredients. - Ross from Lakeview   Avery Pumpkyn. It is the 22% version of their regular pumpkin release, Rumpkyn. - Charlie from Bloomingdale   Figueroa Mountain Brewing's Hell's Half Acre (Barley wine Aged 18 months in Pinot Noir Barrels) and Wasatch's Jalapeño Cream Ale. So spicy! - Chuck from Niles   Helluva Caucasian Cream Stout from Living the Dream Brewing Company out of Littleton, CO. It is a cream stout modeled after a white Russian cocktail. It was incredible! This stout features chocolate, espresso, peanut butter and vanilla. Living the Dream Brewing's owner and brewmaster is former Binny's GM Jason Bell! - Andy from Champaign     When we arrived to Denver, our first stop was New Belgium. Although they had a full day of tours and activities for visitors, their hospitality was nothing short of excellent. New Belgium staff and brewers were full of energy and excitement. The wood tanks (pictured below) are used to age their sours for at least two years. Their large Lauter Tanks (also pictured below) are where they make all the Fat Tire you could ever dream of. Their bottling line works crazy fast as they are able to bottle up to 750 beers a minute! They also have a small scale brewery onsite where they play around with a lot of their experimental brews. - Andy from Champaign  

New Belgium Barrel Aged Sours

 

New Belgium Lauter Ton

  Left Hand has really perfected the art of nitro beers. They had a beer on one of their nitro taps called Beer Week Sauce, and at times I wondered if I was drinking fresh cold coffee or beer. It was out of this world good. Unfortunately we will probably never see this beer at Binny's, but their Milk Stout Nitro is a must try if you haven't had it. It is available in Binny's in 6pk's.   Left Hand also surprised us with Wicked Juju, a dark version of their outstanding Good Juju. We were lucky enough to be one of the first people to try this beer, and were elated when Left Hand told us they would be bottling this, and would more than likely see it at Binny's. Along with nitro beer, Left Hand has also perfected the use of ginger as a beer ingredient. I am admittedly not the biggest ginger fan, but Wicked Juju is one heck of a beer! - Kyle from Willowbrook  

Left Hand Brewing

 

Left Hand Brewing

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