The Great American Beer Festival is once again upon us, running from October 6 to 8 in downtown Denver. As you walk inside the Colorado Convention Center, pretzels draped around your neck, you might be awestruck and even overwhelmed by all the boozy options that await you—more than 3,500 brews, to be exact.
Let us help guide you. Here are five of Colorado’s finest brews for you to seek out while exploring the country’s biggest beer event.
1. Great Divide Brewing Co.: Velvet Yeti
Great Divide founder Brian Dunn calls the newest and smoothest member of the Yeti family an “approachable beer with a lot of character.” While the rest of the Yeti beers tend to pack a punch in terms of alcohol content, Velvet Yeti comes in at just five percent ABV. To highlight the brew’s rich caramel roast and chocolate notes this beer is served on Nitro instead of regular CO2. While it will soon be a regular fixture at Great Divide taprooms, this draft-only, Colorado-only brew is worth seeking out when it makes its debut at GABF this week.
2. WeldWerks Brewing Co.: Double Dry Hopped Juicy Bits
WeldWerks Brewing Co. decided to experiment with their popular Juicy Bits brew in a new version being released this week. “It’s one of the best beers we have made so we are excited to pour it at GABF,” says Neil Fisher, head brewer and co-owner at WeldWerks. This New England-style IPA is not entered in the competition (maybe next year, says Fisher) but will definitely attract a lot of fans and those interested in finding out whether its legendary “haze” is now more aggressive.
3. Call to Arms Brewing Company: More Like Bore-a-Phyll
Billy Madison fans (“Chlorophyll? More like Bore-a-Phyll”) won’t be the only ones crowding around for a taste of this American wet-hopped IPA. Jesse Brookstein, taproom manager at Call to Arms Brewing Company, says this beer was scientifically brewed to fit its judging category. It’s actually a wet-hopped and dry-hopped IPA with big citrus and melon notes, plus the chlorophyll flavor profile judges look for. “It’s an extreme version of a west coast IPA with a bunch of fresh, earthy hops to it,” he says. This beer will also be on draft at the Call to Arms taproom this week.
4. Elk Mountain Brewing: Wapiti Wheat
Last year’s silver medal winner in American wheat is back. With banana and clove notes from German Hefeweizen yeast, this straw-colored beer has been around for awhile. In fact, it is a “main staple” of the Elk Mountain taproom, notes founder Tom Bell, who first worked on the recipe as a home brewer some 20 years ago. But most beer enthusiasts will want to revisit this easy-drinker to judge its fighting form as it returns to the competition.
5. Factotum Brewhouse: Caramel Corn Cream Ale
The story behind this American-style cream ale gives us a reason to seek it out. Factotum is an incubator for home brewers, where everyone from amateurs to experts can utilize the brewhouse’s equipment to test out their beer recipes. “This beer won our in-house March Madness-style home brewers bracket, [which pits] keg versus keg. The first [keg] to kick advances to the next round,” explains Factotum Brewhouse co-owner Christopher Bruns. “The grand prize was to brew up a large batch and bring it to our booth at GABF.” The Caramel Corn Cream Ale is the brainchild of home brewer Aaron Murphy. See for yourself if the hype is legit.
Bonus: Oskar Blues: Death By Coconut
Sure, this limited release seasonal, brewed in Longmont, has made the rounds in Colorado, but outside of the Convention Center, it’ll be hard to track down for another few weeks. Most stores, even big players like Argonaut, don’t have this year’s release quite yet. A robust porter that tastes like chocolate with pitch perfect notes of coconut, the smooth mouthfeel of this cold-weather classic will have you ready for winter.