This year I’ve attended two of the most acclaimed festivals in the United States, the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin and this past weekend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. Before leaving for Denver, I had a couple of different people ask me to compare the two festivals and give my thoughts.

Well…I guess the first thing I can say is that I had fun. I got to see some friends, I got to meet some amazing brewers and I had the chance to try a lot of beer that we can’t easily find in St. Louis. But there were a ton of negatives as well. The biggest negative for me was the amount of drunken idiots that populated the show floor. You can’t go two minutes without someone dropping their glass and the entire conference center going, “ohhhhhh!” C’mon people, grow up.

This basically felt like a trade show where you’re surrounded by people that just got let out of the local drunk tank. It’s like if you went to the Home Show or Boat Show but they made sure everyone got blasted before walking around. The second big negative for me was the fact that it was inside. Going into the festival I didn’t really think this would be a detraction for me, but it really was. There is something about sunshine and fresh air that really makes a festival fun.

My only suggestion for this festival, and I’m sure this isn’t an original idea, but there really needs to be an “industry session”. A single session for retailers, distributors, manufacturers, journalists and brewers to be able to talk, show off their wares and get things done. You have 400+ breweries in one spot, wouldn’t this be a great opportunity for a little business to get done?

Would I attend the festival again? Probably not. I’ve had my fill. If I were to go back to Denver during GABF it would be for some of the periphery events going on all week. All week long you’ll find that breweries and brewers visit different area locations and pull out some big guns. That part was amazing. But, I’ll stick to Great Taste next year. I’ve included some photos and after the jump I’ve included a list of just some of the beers I tasted this weekend.

  • Alaskan Brewing Company – 2007 Smoked Porter
  • 21st Amendment Brewery – Live Free or Die IPA
  • 21st Amendment Brewery – Hell or High Watermelon Wheat
  • 21st Amendment Brewery – McDole’s Tasty IPA (Pro-Am Beer)
  • Bear Republic – Apex
  • Bear Republic – Racer X
  • Russian River Brewing Company – Consecration
  • Deschutes – Black Butte XX
  • Green Flash Brewing Co. – Green Flash Imperial IPA
  • Green Flash Brewing Co. – Le Freak
  • Elysian Brewing Company – Avatar Jasmine IPA
  • Pizza Port San Clemente – Killer Dana Double IPA
  • Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey – Isabelle Proximus
  • Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey – Brouwer’s Imagination Saison
  • Stone Brewing Co. – Stone Ruination IPA
  • Stone Brewing Co. – Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
  • Oskar Blues Brewery – Gordon
  • New Belgium Brewing Company – Eric’s Ale
  • Wynkoop Brewing Company – Obamanator
  • Great Divide Brewing Co – Hercules Double IPA
  • Michelob – Jack’s Pumpkin Spiced Ale
  • Dogfish Head Brewery – 120 Minute (Through Randall)
  • Dogfish Head Brewery – Palo Santo
  • Dogfish Head Brewery – World Wide Stout
  • Dogfish Head Brewery – Theobroma
  • Surly Brewing Company – Furious
  • Sweetwater Brewing Company – Sweetwater IPA
  • Terrapin Beer Co. – Oak Aged Rye Squared
  • Flossmoor Station Brewing Company – Organic Woody
  • Brugge Brasserie – Diamond Kings ’08
  • Three Floyds Brewing Company – Gorch Fock
  • Three Floyds Brewing Company – Moloko Milk Stout
  • Triple Rock Brewery Ale House – McDole BPA
  • Boston Beer Company – Traditional Bock (Longshot Winner)
  • New Holland Brewing Co – Dragon’s Milk
  • Left Hand – Terra-Ryzed (Collaboration with Terrapin)
  • Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales – Luciernaga
  • Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales – Maracaibo Especial
  • Short’s Brewing Company – Huma-Lupa-Licious
  • The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery – Wee Heavy Scotch Ale
  • The Brooklyn Brewery – Grand Cru
  • Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Company – Mean Manalishi Double IPA