A GABF Sweep for Colorado Reinvigorates Boring Old Brown Ales

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Upslope Brewing Facebook page
Brown. It's not a sexy word or a sexy color, and to most craft-beer drinkers, brown ales typically signify a boring beverage. But brown turned into gold, silver and bronze earlier this month when Colorado breweries swept the American-style Brown category at the Great American Beer Festival.

In other words, brown is on the rebound.

Telluride Brewing, which already owns gold medals for its Face Down Brown at both the 2012 World Beer Cup and GABF, won another gold this year. Diebolt Brewing, which opened in September 2013, took silver. And Upslope Brewing in Boulder, which won a 2012 silver at GABF for its Brown Ale, took bronze.

See also: Hats and Beards and the People of the 33rd Annual Great American Beer Festival

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Photos: Hats and Beards and the People of the 33rd Annual Great American Beer Festival

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All photos by Danielle Lirette

What do you get when you combine 710 breweries, more than 3,500 beers, 3,200 volunteers and 49,000 beer-loving drinkers over three days? You get the mayhem that is the Great American Beer Festival. Westword photographer Danielle Lirette was there to capture all of the beer-soaked fun. Take a look at the photos on the next page, or view all three slide shows: Thursday Night at GABF; the Beer Hats and Beards of GABF; and the People of the Great American Beer Festival.

See also: Photos: The Great American Beer Festival Brings Joy to Denver


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Colorado's Brand-New Breweries Bring Home the Bling at GABF

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Coda Brewing Facebook page
Five-month-old Coda Brewing won a silver medal for Silver Sleepyhead Passion Fruit Kolsch.
For the past couple of years, industry veterans have expressed concerns about the quality of the beer being made by new craft breweries, especially as the number of new breweries -- they are now opening at a rate of 1.5 per day across the country -- increases exponentially. But the newbies fought back over the weekend: Nine Colorado breweries that didn't exist at this time last year brought home ten medals from the 33rd annual Great American Beer Festival.

"I think we heard what they were saying and wanted to make sure we were doing quality beers," says Luke Smith of Aurora's Coda Brewing, which opened in May and just won a silver medal for Sleepyhead Passion Fruit Kolsch. "The new breweries are heeding that advice."

All told, Colorado claimed forty medals at the festival, ten of them gold and one for an amateur entry. That number was down from 46 last year.

See also: Barrel Man: After Plenty of Blood, Sweat and Beers, Skyler Weekes Is on a Roll

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Photos: Epic Brewing Hosts Second Annual Fifty Firkin Fiasco

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All photos by Brandon Marshall.
A firkin, in case you were wondering, is a small cask that holds about eleven gallons of liquid -- beer, if you're lucky. Epic Brewing had fifty of the little casks, each with a unique beer made by Epic, on hand last night to celebrate the first anniversary of the brewery in the RiNo neighborhood. Photographer Brandon Marshall was there to capture the beer sampling.

See also: Five Tasty, Terrifying Pretzel-Necklace Alternatives for the Great American Beer Fest

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GABF Gives Euclid Hall a Big Boost, Bigger Numbers Expected Tonight

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As an example of the economic boost the Great American Beer Festival gives to downtown Denver every year, Euclid Hall -- one of the top beer destinations within walking distance of the Colorado Convention Center -- did 1,195 covers yesterday. To put that in perspective, a standard Thursday in September runs about 550 to 650 covers, according to manager Julia Bouchard. Tonight they expect the number to top 1,600.

See also: Thirty Non-Colorado Breweries to Try at the Great American Beer Festival


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Photos: The Great American Beer Festival Brings Joy to Denver

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All photos by Danielle Lirette

The Great American Beer Festival returned to Denver on Thursday night and continues today and tomorrow. Thousands of lucky ticket-holders invaded the Colorado Convention Center for the first night, sampling more than 3,500 beers from over 750 breweries. We were there and took these photos.


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Five Tasty, Terrifying Pretzel-Necklace Alternatives for the Great American Beer Fest

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Isa Jones
The most popular food at the Great American Beer Festival is beer, obviously. The second is the pretzel necklace. Made by innovative drinkers, these necklaces provide a handy palate-cleanser, as well as a way to soak up some of the evening's alcohol.

But after a while, pretzels get so, so boring. They're bland and salty, hardly a refreshment worthy of the year's biggest beer party: Drinkers deserve a better food around their necks. So we tested five alternatives to the classic pretzel necklace, from the relatively practical to the totally twisted.

See also: Five Disgusting Alternatives to the Pretzel Necklace at the Great American Beer Festival

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Thirty Non-Colorado Breweries to Try at the Great American Beer Festival

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Melvin Brewing Facebook page
The Brewers Association made this year's app for the Great American Beer Festival available on Wednesday, and although the beer list won't go live until today, the app will be more necessary than ever in 2014. That's because there are about 730 breweries at the festival this year, pouring upward of 3,500 beers. Which is a whole lot. Although I've never been one to focus on a certain style, I do like to have a strategy at the festival.

As devised in previous years, it involves checking out a mixture of old favorites, recent discoveries and buzz breweries that I've never tried but heard a lot about, either from friends, other beer drinkers or online. None of them are from Colorado, since I can try those on the other 51 weeks of the year -- and only a few have ever had even limited distribution in Colorado. Here is a list of thirty or so breweries whose booths I plan to hit up at the GABF.

See also: Nearly 1,400 breweries register for GABF, 81 percent higher than last year

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Update: The Great American Beer Festival Week 2014 Calendar of Events

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The Great American Beer Festival will welcome nearly 50,000 people to the Colorado Convention Center October 2 through October 4, along with an astounding 3,500 beers from 726 breweries, making it the biggest and best sudstravaganza in the world. Tickets sold out months ago (although you can find them online if you're willing to spend some extra dough), but that doesn't mean you can't get your craft-beer vibe on in Denver and its environs. Starting on Saturday, September 27 and continuing for ten days, breweries, bars, restaurants and other venues up and down the Front Range will host beer dinners, concerts, parties, special tappings, bar crawls, meet-and-greets, smaller festivals and classes that should thrill every beer lover -- from near and far.

Here is our guide to GABF-related events, a list that we will be updating on a weekly -- and probably daily -- basis as new activities are planned and introduced. Cheers!

See also: Nearly 1,400 breweries register for GABF, 81 percent higher than last year

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No Tickets for GABF? BSide Is Giving Away Three Pairs for the Thursday Session

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Kevin Galaba
No tickets for the Great American Beer Festival? BSide, the latest beer-centric bar and restaurant on East 17th Avenue, has three pairs to give away for the event's Thursday session. Keep reading to find out how to win them.

See also: Five Top Tips for Surviving the Great American Beer Festival


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