COAST TO COAST TOAST - GABF
well, what an evening! Great turn out of babblers: Dan and Joelle, Steve and Anne G, Glenn and his entire family, Mitch M, Mark A, Dick, me & T, Johns Sturm and Rosa, Logan, Chuck, Dave A & his wife, Brian T, Tim and of course we met our two professional American brewer babblers, Todd A from Flossmoor and Tomme from Pizza Port Solana Beach. Jacko was in attendance, and obliged Glenn by taking a photo of Glenn, which must have made a welcome change for a very photographed beer celeb!
I had wondered what it would be like having the one-ounce samples instead of a proper portion like at other festivals I had attended. Well, I am now a convert - the one-ounce samples are great! They allowed me to have 74 beers in one night - now, where else can that be done?! And of these 74, 62 were new to me, so it allowed me to taste a whole heap of the best of US brewing. Mitch met us all as agreed and pointed out a load of great beers to check out, which worked out really well as I would have missed most of those that he recommended. All of his recommendations were spot on, bar none, so thanks Mitch for your work on this.
I'm not going to list all 63 different beers that I had, but the highlights were:
Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale; Steelhead Darth Vader Imperial Stout (my beer of the night - amazing stuff!); Pizza Port Hop 15; Bitter End Lamb Beak from Austin (thanks Joelle for that tip!); the various Deschutes beers; the Stone beers; Redfish New Orleans beers; New Holland beers, including a weird pumpkin one; Wild Duck; the wonderful South Hampton Flemish Red, and La Conner. Fitgers Stout also went down a treat.
The event itself was great: a huge contrast to other festivals I've been to. First shock was the size of the hall. I was expecting something the size of an aircraft hanger, or bigger, but was really surprised to find that it was a much smaller hall than Olympia, where GBBF is held. More beers at GABF, but a bigger space at GBBF. The hall was also not particularly crowded, which was a very pleasant surprise, as I had thought more people would be there given that its only on for three days. However, it was very nice to have a decent amount of room to move. And once I'd got used to it, the portions worked well for me too. Its funny, I come from a culture where a lot of work goes into teaching people not to binge drink, not to throw beer down one's neck, but to take more time over drinking. And here was a festival which, by the nature of the samples, positively encourages dangerously quick drinking. As the event was only open for just over four hours, you had to make the most of it, and yet you only got a tiny serving each time - hence you needed to keep drinking to make the most of the opportunity. So this encourages you to throw the beer down as quickly as possible and keep moving. This format also does not encourage you to stand and chat over a pint, like at most other drinking events. So chatting was done as little groups of babblers scurried round the hall in search of the next sample - as I said, all a very different experience but great fun to try out, and a format that I was quite surprised to find myself liking quite a bit.
Anyway, after being first in we made sure we were more or less last out, and called it a day after the festival, though Diane cooked up a yummy meal on our return, after performing her umpteenth taxi duty of the week. What a star!
Friday it was time to say goodbye to Dick and Diane and thank them for their wonderful hospitality, and it was off to the West Coast!
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