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  • Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
    Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
    by John M. P. Knox

    "Definitely worth adding to your collection – it’s as good a visual record of the brewing process as I’ve ever seen." -Dave of

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Texas Winners: GABF 2010

Living in Texas, it's nice to see that we won 6 medals for four different breweries. Or maybe 5 medals for three breweries, depending on how you count. Trumer appears to be a Austrian beer brewed in Berkeley, owned by a San Antonio-based company. I'll leave that tricky distinction up to you.

I look forward to next year's GABF, when Texas should have even more breweries online and ready to compete. In the mean time, I need to get a brewery tour of Real Ale, and maybe another tour of Saint Arnold.

Keep up the delicious work, all of you!





Wednesday in Denver: Trailer Food, the Art of Beer, and Geometric Food

Wednesday Morning, Jennie and I met Dan of Bison Brewing at the Farmer's Market at Tiri's Garden for lunch. Although the place is called a Farmer's Market, most of the vendors serve prepared food out of trucks and lunch carts. I'm reminded of Austin!

The highlight of the market was the Inventing Room, which sells edible science fair projects. Who could resist that? Not us. We ordered a Chocolate Mint Space Foam. When a canister of liquid nitrogen appeared, Jennie shouted "Hold on, let me get my camera!" as we struggled to get our cameras ready like a disorganized firing squad.

The chef shot the space foam into a container of liquid nitrogen from a whipped cream dispenser. After a few seconds, the chef reached in with his bare hands and popped a ball of frozen space foam into his mouth. Showmanship!

For added drama he demonstrated how to blow puffs of "smoke" off of the space foam. The foam tasted minty delicious, with an unusual crunchy/smooth texture. Space foam is an insane crowd pleaser. I'll have some video footage to show off later.

The Farmer's Market also has an attached community garden, which lets you pick your own vegetables in exchange for a donation to Concerts for Kids. I love this idea! Volunteers and students work the garden, which is just gorgeous. Denver should be proud. Look for a video soon.

The food vendors offer a bogglingly diverse selection of food. Liquid Nitrogen space foam. Vegetarian Vietnamese sandwiches. Venezuelan street food. Cupcakes. Anything your heart desires.

After a blogging break, Jennie and I returned to the thumping heart of GABF: Falling Rock Tap Room. Falling rock was already full of beer nerds and brewers when we arrived at six pm. Many of them were here to celebrate Taylor "The Art of Beer's" birthday in the basement.

How does The Art of Beer celebrate her birthday? With a huge beer tasting, curated by Dr. Bill! Bottle after bottle of craft bombers appeared, with a focus on belgian-style beer.

Our basement room was absolutely packed, and whenever the barman was spotted, drink orders were shouted across the room. Our group must have been boisterous, because the barman threatened to kill anyone who tried to drive tonight. We all survived.

After the birthday festivities reverted to GABF festivities, Jennie and I strolled down to Euclid Hall. This cool restaurant specializes in beer and food pairings, or so it seemed to us. If they're a wine and cheese joint, we didn't notice.

I really enjoyed the meal, although there were a few rough edges here and there. For instance, their grilled hangar steak poutine had to my mind a strange ratio of steak, cheese, and fries. There was more cheese than fries to mop it up with. They've only been open for about six weeks, so they're still tuning things. I expect they'll have the menu dialed in quite soon if they're active in collecting and responding to feedback.

I got a kick out of Euclid's mathematical beer list organization. The list begins with arithmetic, and works its way upward in beer complexity through algebra, calculus, and topping out at quantum mathematics. To give you an idea, Dogfish Head's Palo Santo lands in quantum mathematics. You can find the list on their website. This is a fun way to challenge folks to try new beers. I look forward to visiting Euclid at next year's GABF!


Tuesday's Denver Adventure

My Tuesday morning started at 3 AM. Jennie and I finished packing and drove to the airport to make our 6 AM flight to Denver. The Southwest flight was thankfully uneventful, and arrived at our Bed and Breakfast just in time to for bagels and espresso.

We ate brunch at Snooze, home of the best pancakes I have ever put in my mouth. I devoured a Bella Benny, which featured an addictive balsamic glaze sauce. Oh my!

After snooze, we wandered past Great Divide Brewery. The Great Dividers were in the process of installing what appeared to be new fermenters. Expanding capacity. Right on!

Beer time started a little earlier than expected when we learned our pal Dan of Bison Brew had arrived in town and was eating lunch at Falling Rock. We made a hard starboard tack towards the tap room.

Dan and Jennie and I had a interesting talk about the business sustainability of breweries. The recent trend of craft brewery acquisitions really makes me wonder about how you set up a business so that the founders can cash out when they want to retire, but the brewery can still continue on as an independent and quality-oriented business. Wouldn't it be nice if the founder could retire and hand the reins over to a like-minded brewer rather than an accountant or MBA?

For Dinner, Jennie and I hitched a ride to the home of @SpeakeasyKitch (also known as Charmaine). On the way, we picked up the usual necessities: ice cream, beer, cheese, and shrimp. @BeachBumChris arrived a little later and cooked Great Divide Titan IPA shrimp etouffee. I think we tasted eight or nine different beers, three cheeses, lots of fresh veggies out of Charmaine's garden, and that was just while dinner was cooking. What a feast!


Great American Beer Fest Pro-Tips

First, read PJ Hoberman's Surviving GABF

  1. Water. You'll find water coolers spread around the floor of GABF. Get a glass of water every time you see a hydration station. You'll feel much better at last call.
  2. Glass holsters. For most sessions, you'll get an "unbreakable" plastic tasting glass for your beer. The first time a glass rattles on the floor, prepare for the entire conference hall to react. Embarrassing! You'll find various booths offering necklaces for safe glass storage.
  3. Alka-seltzer. Bring your favorite hang-over cure for the next morning. I like a little plop! plop! fizz! fizz!
  4. Maps. You can download the GABF map early. Print it out and mark the breweries you want to visit. Make tracks to your favorite booth as soon as you get in the door.
  5. Eat! Visit the food vendors, or bring a snack necklace. Eating helps with hangovers, and can help you stay hydrated.
  6. Participate in the other activities. Tasting beer isn't the only fun thing to do at GABF.
  7. GABF is short and there are too many beers. Focus on beer that you haven't tried before, and beer that isn't available where you live. If you focus on your favorite beers, you'll miss discovering new stuff.

Name some other tips, comment!


The Beer Blotter Plans for GABF

Papier from the BrueryThe's Beer Blotter has posted part 1 of their suggestions for booths to visit at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. You should check out the Beer Blotter's list and reasons, but here are ones that overlap with my own list:

  • Dry Dock Brewing - I really enjoyed their vanilla porter last year. A well balanced beer, especially since vanilla usually means "too sweet" in my vocabulary. Yum.
  • Pizza Port - The several different locations were buried under medals at GABF 2009. Don't let the name fool you.
  • The Bruery - I ran into these brewers at the Cheeky Monk last year, where they generously poured us lots of delicious Autumn Maple. Fun crowd!
  • Cigar City Brewing - I'm not sure I've ever tried this beer, but I grew up in Tampa. Cigar City is a reference to Tampa's historical Ybor City, where Cuban, Italian and other immigrants used to hand-make cigars in the late 19th / early 20th century. I've got to check out beer from the old neighborhood.

I wish I knew the Beer Blotter's name to give him or her proper credit, but I couldn't find it under SeattlePI's blizzard of ads. I look forward to reading the next installment.


The Beer Blotter is better found at and @BeerBlotter. Also, the next installment is already online!