Wynkoop Brewing Company‘s Day of Darks 2018, held on November 17th, was yet another fantastic year for this dark beer festival featuring over 30 local breweries. The weather turned cold just in time to bust out all those amazing stouts, porters, and other malty delights that go so well with winter. And once again, it was a full house at this sold out event.
Part of the silent auction
A portion of this year’s ticket proceeds went to support three local charities focused on researching and fighting cancer:
Beer for Boobs
Colorado Cancer Institute
Attendees had the pleasure of spending four hours sampling some of the finest dark beers in the area while backing these important organizations at the same time.
In addition to all that beer, participants got to help themselves to beer ice cream, mini chocolate cupcakes, and truffles. Yum! And with all the amazing beverage options, it was not hard to pick a beer to create the perfect mini-pairing with the goodies.
But the fun didn’t stop there: some truly awesome items were up for grabs in a silent auction, and Wynkoop provided a Build-Your-Own Mustache Station, complete with a contest for ‘Best Real Mustache’ and ‘Most Creative Mustache.’
Build Your Own Mustache station
I tried a great deal of excellent beers at Day of Darks 2018, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5 favorites:
Quadruple Barrel Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing
Big Bad Baptista from Epic Brewing
Espress Yourself Coffee Stout from Resolute Brewing Company
Barrel-Aged FOAB (Father of all Beers) Russian Imperial Stout from Wynkoop
Chai Yeti from Great Divide
Thanks to Wynkoop and all other participating breweries for making Day of Darks 2018 a huge success!
Big Bad Baptist (12% ABV) is the original of the series, an imperial stout with coffee (the type varies with each batch) and cacao nibs. This 2018 Baptist is brewed with a Columbian origin roasted coffee by Blue Copper Coffee Roasters in Salt Lake City. The barrel-aged flavor really comes through in this year’s BBB.
Big Bad Baptist is one of the finest imperial stouts around, so when you take this base beer but brew it with Mexican coffee, chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla, you’ve got Big Bad Baptista (12.1% ABV), which is probably the best Mexican Chocolate stout I’ve ever had (and I’ve tried many). I found it to be a bit lighter on the cinnamon this year with a more prominent barrel aged taste. In fact, I think Epic really brought it with the barrel-aging in all of the 2018 Baptists.
In years past, Epic released Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist and Triple Barrel Big Bad Baptist, and they took it up yet another notch this year with the Quadruple Barrel. Aged in rum barrels, it’s boozy (12% ABV) with lots coconut and hints of coffee and almond. I was thrilled at the amount of coconut I could taste in it. Epic’s Director of Brewing Operations, Jordan Schupbach, explains how Double Barrel got its distinct, intense flavors:
“We’re taking our 100% barrel aged philosophy to the extreme and barrel-aging any ingredient that will absorb the flavor and character of barrels before going in the beer. What’s great about this approach is that the adjuncts don’t mask any of the barrel character we’ve worked so hard to develop in the beer. Cracking the casks of coconut and almond open after they’ve aged is amazing. The entire brewery fills with the aroma and everyone starts to get excited to finally taste the results,” says Schupbach.
Quadruple Barrel BBB is especially nice for the holidays, as it pairs well with hard cheeses and dark chocolate desserts. If you only try one of the beers in this post, make it this one.
All three beers in the Baptist series are seriously some of the best stouts ever. I recommend them all 100% and am proud to spread the word about how wonderful these beers are. I recommend letting them warm up a little before enjoying, as this will really make the flavors stand out. All three are being distributed nationally to all of Epic’s markets and are currently available for a limited time.
It’s getting cold out there, which means Señorita Horchata Imperial Porter from Elevation Beer Co.is back for the season! Last winter this beer made its debut in cans, and it is one again available in 6-packs (and on draft) across the brewery’s distribution footprint in Colorado and Wyoming. Señorita has long been one of my favorite Colorado beers, and I always get excited about its return when the weather turns cool.
When I first started drinking craft beer, porters were my go-to, and I then took a liking to stouts. So an Imperial Porter is just my style! I don’t see a whole lot of porters these days—especially not imperial porters, especially not brewed with cinnamon and vanilla bean (!), so I make sure to grab some Señorita when it is released. It’s such a well balanced beer, and I like that it has a relatively high ABV (I’ve seen it listed between 8-8.5%, so I’m not sure of the exact percentage). I thoroughly enjoy the combination of flavors in this beer; in addition to drinking it, I plan to bake with it as well. It would be the perfect ingredient for a batch of beer brownies!
Pick up a 6-pack at your local liquor store today, and/or join Elevation Beer Co. for Cinco Días Antes del Día de los Muertos celebration at their tasting room on Friday, October 26! There will be a Senorita look-alike contest (prizes for best costumes), Sugar Skull Painting, and $1.00 tacos from Sonny’s Food Truck & Moments to Memories Catering. Cheers!
The 37th annual Great American Beer Festival is in the books! I say this every year, but I am continually impressed with how well organized this event is. And even with some big changes (read on), it all appeared to run seamlessly.
This year’s space at the Convention Center was a whopping 584,000 square feet, and it was wonderful. It was the most spacious GABF ever; it wasn’t shoulder-to-shoulder, and I never struggled to make my way through too-packed areas. Other than the fact that there truly was so much physical space, I believe another reason for the roominess is the amount of thought that goes into the organization of the breweries. While booths were arranged alphabetically, experience from past GABFs along with predictions on which breweries might expect the biggest crowds certainly played into the location of some of the end booths as to reduce the amount of crowding as much as possible.
Speaking of the booths being alphabetical rather than by geographical region, that was the most major change this year, in my opinion. While I heard some grumbling about the new set-up, I liked it. I understand many folks want to head to one area to sample beer from a specific region. But overall I thought A-Z was a nice change as I found it easier to locate the breweries this way. I’m curious to hear about the overall response to the new setup was and whether or not they will go back to regions next year.
Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden was a really fun addition to the fest. It was like a big backyard party that featured 17 breweries which all created their own unique Jameson barrel-aged beer aged in whiskey barrels shipped from the Jameson Distillery in Midleton, Ireland. The three I enjoyed most are:
4,086 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
Upon seeing those numbers, it gives one a real appreciation for just what an enormous job it is to plan and carry out a festival of this scale.
My personal favorite beers this year include a few I’ve had before and a handful of new ones. And it seems I’ve gone over to the dark side, as is evident from the beers that topped my list. In no particular order:
Honorable Mention: While I didn’t love it enough to include it in my favorites, Weldwerks’ Spaghetti Gose was one of the most interesting beers I tried. Brewed with tomatoes, pasta, oregano and basil, it had all the flavor of an Italian dish. I heard that Weldwerks was pairing it with mini pizza slices for the first 100 people to visit their booth, but I wasn’t able to make it over before the pizza ran out.
For attendees, the festival itself is is what it’s all about. Show up, drink all the beer. But what most don’t see is the behind-the-scenes competition that a couple thousand breweries (and judges and volunteers) put so much hard work into.
Here’s a bit of info on 32nd edition of the GABF competition:
8,496 entries plus 101 Pro-Am and 49 Collaboration entries (Pro-Am entries are a pairing of homebrewers with professional brewers, who scale up their award-winning homebrew recipes)
2,404 breweries in the competition from 49 states plus Washington, D.C. (no Mississippi)
293 judges from 13 countries
Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 83
Category with the highest number of entries: Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale (391 entries)
280 medal-winning breweries (including Pro-Am and Collaboration)
306 total medals awarded plus three (3) each for Pro-Am and Collaboration
537 first-time GABF entrants
31 first-time GABF winners
Collaboration Booth: new this year, as was the Collaboration Competition
Colorado took home a total of 30 medals! At the end of this post I have included the breakdown of all Colorado medals. And click here for a complete list of 2018 GABF Medal Winners. Congratulations to all!
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at GABF 2018. Next year it will be held on October 3-5, so make note if you don’t want to miss out! Thank you to everyone who made the Great American Beer Festival a huge success!
All Colorado 2018 GABF Medal Winners:
Apricot Saison — 105 Brewing Co., Castle Rock, Specialty Saison
Drunkard’s Cloak — Banded Oak, Denver, Old Ale or Strong Ale
BJ’s Quad — BJ’s Restaurant, Boulder, Belgian-style Dubbel or Quadrupel
Sunshine Express — Butcherknife Brewing Co., Steamboat Springs, Australian-style India Pale Ale
Netflix and Pils — Canonball Creek Brewing Co., Golden, German-style Pilsner
Barrel-aged Japance Off — Denver Beer Co., Denver, Barrel-aged beer
Graham Cracker Porter — Denver Beer Co., Denver, Specialty Beer
Guten Bock — Gilded Goat Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Bock