COAST TO COAST TOAST - DENVER
JezzaP

Dick was waiting at Denver International as agreed, and we were soon back in his fantastic house. Feeling a bit jaded, we headed straight for Deitrich's, a super coffee place which was to become our second home over the next few days. Feeling suitably perked up, it was soon time to hit the Falling Rock.

Walking into the Falling Rock fulfilled a long held wish, and I was not to be disappointed. What a brilliant bar - without any doubt the best bar of the trip, by some distance. This place has great character, a wonderful friendly atmosphere, and an unparalleled beer list. The food is also pretty nifty too, especially the pizzas.

Anyway, we had come to the Falling Rock specially for the annual tapping party, which soon kicked off with Avery Salvation, Avery Reverend, Sierra Nevada Celebration, SN Bigfoot, Rogue I2PA, Rogue Old Crustacean, and Redfish/New Belgium Chi Chi Mau. I was not overly impressed with the first two, but the latter four were excellent, especially the Celebration and the Rogue I2PA. The Chi Chi Mau was also very interesting, having that New Belgium thumbprint clearly hitting you as soon as you tasted it. I also had something called Arrogant Brit (who bought that one for me, eh?) an Angry Monk, and a Left Hand Black Jack Porter. What a line up of great beers!

Other babblers there included Dick, Chris B (of course), Chuck, Dave A, Mitch M, Logan, Brian T, Mark A, Glenn and his son Dan, then Tim arrived just as most of us were leaving. Also great to see Carl Kins show up, who we'd met at the GBBF.

Later in the evening, Theresa and I slipped off to the Vesta Dipping Grill for dinner, it being our 9th anniversary that night. Chris B had recommended this as a cosy romantic venue ideal for such occasions, and he was certainly correct here. Part way through our meal Glenn dropped in - not to join us, just to be official photographer - so we have some suitable mementoes of this great meal!

Next day we picked up a hire car and headed into the Rockies and over the Trail Ridge Road. The views were spectacular until about 11000 feet, when we suddenly entered a gigantic cloud. Visibility was down to about 20 feet, driving speed a max of 15 miles per hour, and we didn't get out of the cloud until we were back down to around 9000 feet. I understand that the view at the top is rather good, but unfortunately I am not in a position to comment on it!

Anyway, we headed for Fort Collins and met up with Glenn, Brian T and Mark A at New Belgium, where Peter, the Belgian (and former Rodenbach) brewer, took us on a tour and shared some samples with us. New Belgium is a stunning, modern brewery, but the real interest is the incredible wooden aging barrels, a whole heap of small ones, and about 20 or so huge ones. Great to meet Peter and see the whole operation. Also fascinating to hear his comments on Rodenbach Grand Cru: these would persuade any doubters that Tim Webb's Dumbing Down article is spot on……

That night was spent at Glenn's place up in the mountains near Fort Collins. Before and after a great meal, we went through a great line up of beers: Mendocino White Hawk Ale, Redhook Chinook Copper Ale, Orchard St Brewery Stock Ale, Moylans Moylander Double IPA, Lagunitas Solstice Lagunator Ale, Fish Brewing Poseidons Imperial Stout, and Sam Adams Tripel Bock. Glenn had four bottles of the latter; me ten. Drank him under the table and back up again. This was a great line up, with the Fish Imperial Stout being the stand out, I think, it being highly unusual as it had a whisky-ish tinge to it, very interesting indeed.

Crashed out and had a great sleep, and woke with eager anticipation as Glenn had told us all about the unbeatable view from the guest bedroom window. Well, all I could see was a giant cloud. Perhaps he's bluffing and there's nothing there? I think we should be told! Anyway, the weather was obviously set for the day, so after a quick poke around Fort Collins we headed straight back to Denver instead of trying to see any more mountains. Arrived back in plenty of time for another short Falling Rock session, this time with Dick's three giant glasses. It was fun to have me, T and Dick walking in with one of these huge glasses each! After a couple of beers and dinner, it was back to Dick's place for the party, which has been reported previously, suffice to say it was an interesting evening with a stunning beer list, the pick of which was Joris' Cantillon Kersengueuze, although the La Folie vertical from 2000, 2001 and 2002 was fascinating and revealing.

Next day was GABF day! Woke up late, cancelled plans to do anything much, and decided instead that resting up and eating lots was the best choice of activity. We arrived at the hall about 4.40pm, which was 50 minutes before opening. We were numbers 18, 19 and 20 in the queue, sorry line. Dick got his ID checked and fortunately they saw that he had indeed turned 21, so they decided in the end to let him in!! Actually, they checked everyone's ID, which was a rather amusing little game for us foreigners to watch. I believe that Steve G actually got sent back to his hotel to retrieve his photo ID, as they wouldn't let him in without it!! Then the organisers cocked up and started to let everyone in at 5pm, before realising their mistake and chasing us all back out again. However, this fiasco worked to our advantage, as Dick, Theresa and I were now at the very front of the queue, and when 5.30 came, we were the first three into the hall!

Denver Pictures

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