(view slideshow below)
This year, nine GTBC employees traveled to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. The whirlwind weekend was filled with brewery tours, sensory trainings, good people and, of course, great beer! This year’s festivities included 516 breweries, over 3,400 beers and 49,000 beer enthusiasts. Here’s a peek inside our experience at this years Great American Beer Festival.
After an arduous nine- hour car ride we arrived in Denver, a little tired, but in one piece. We settled into our hotel and grabbed a shuttle down to Denver’s oldest brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Co. Wynkoop held a private party for all of the participating breweries. The place was huge and each room offered a different food and beer pairing option. All of the food was delicious! We enjoyed sour beers, Saisons, sessionables and barrel-aged beers! The dessert bar was paired with numerous different dessert beers, including a very memorable marshmallow stout, delicious! This was also a great chance for us to mingle with other brewery employees from across the nation.
Besides a small mix up with our shuttle driver the evening went off without a hitch. We headed back to our hotels to get some shut-eye.
Most of us had a hard time pulling ourselves out of bed this morning, but the events for the day had us excited! We grabbed a quick breakfast together and headed up to Ft. Collins for the full tour of Odell Brewing Company with head brewer, Joe. Odell was an impressive brewery to visit because they had just been through a major facility expansion. Their level of quality, cleanliness and efficiency was inspiring. We were also able to split up and speak with our Odell employee counterparts! It was a great experience to have the chance to talk with someone who essentially has the same responsibilities!
We raced back to Denver to catch the first session of the festival. We had the opportunity to sample a few beers. The crowd was impressively large! Overall a very successful day!
Today we had the chance to split up and attend training sessions that focused on each of our own interests. Two of our brewers, Kevin and Jim, as well as our quality control assistant, Dawn, attended a Brewer’s Guild Meeting. This meeting was extremely exciting because Idaho does not currently have a Brewer’s Guild. Our crew attended to pick the brains of the Guild members so we can work on establishing our own.
AnnaLisa and Curtis, our packaging team leaders, as well as our third brewer Chaz and our cellar assistant Nick, had the opportunity to attend a Siebel Sensory Analysis course. This course teaches you how to detect off flavors in beer, an invaluable skill to possess in the beer industry. I highly recommend this to any beer enthusiast!
Our yeast suppliers, The Brewing Science Institute, threw an awesome private party at the Sand Lot at Coors Field. After this, we dashed back to evening sessions at the GABF. It was great to see the Siebel Sensory course really sink in for those who attended. They were really critiquing the beer they sampled!
Breckinridge Brewery really outdid themselves with their Brewer’s Breakfast! They served a fantastic home cooked buffet style breakfast complete with any beer on tap or a Bloody Mary made with local spirits!
Bellies full, we headed back to the convention center for the Saturday afternoon session and awards ceremony. This is the best session for the brewery folks because it’s an industry-only session. We had the opportunity to get to know some of the other breweries that were there. We watched the whole awards ceremony, getting butterflies every time a one of our categories came up. Although we didn’t win any medals this year, it was still great to see our friends and other talented breweries collect their awards.
Filled with memories of great beer and good people, we all piled back into our cars and made the long drive back to Idaho. While this year’s Great American Beer Festival was something to remember, all were happy to be home in Teton Valley, the best place on Earth to craft beer!
Come visit us at the brewery!
430 Old Jackson Hwy
Victor, ID 83455