The Liquid Diet

GABF… LIQUIFIED!

This week The Liquid Diet takes a detour from its usual uninformative, unimaginative and underwhelming un-ness to take a look at the mystique that becomes a reality when we step foot into the Colorado Convention Center for GABF.  What is it about this gargantuan event that gets us into a fevered frenzy?  Most of us fancy ourselves gourmands, anti-establishment (when it comes to beer at least) and yet we all funnel into single file lines for a place at the “teet”.  There must be something pretty spectacular and inspiring going on to get us diverge from our normally small circles of beer aficionados to converge with the masses.  Plus, the food at GABF is terrible, and the line for the American Cheese Society table was crazy long, so I really couldn’t write about any cool beer and food pairings.  What is it?

Sunday September 24, 2011 at 1:10PM MST:

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This isn't the Wagon crew. But they look like friends. So, same thing.

Anyone who is a veteran of The Great American Beer Festival knows that the party really starts today… the Sunday leading up to critical mass!  We the merry band of delinquents known as the Denver Off The Wagon writers convene to discuss how we are going to navigate the asteroid field of the week to ensue.  Who is tapping what, what events are we going to, what beers not to miss, who is writing about what, why isn’t Kevin wearing any pants.  Actually, we were all wondering when Kevin was going to tap that keg of Coors Light he had been aging in his cellar.  This is a round table of serious clout in the beer world and you could feel the child-like enthusiasm we all shared whilst giggling about the adventures that lay ahead.  This is the first connection that, I think, we all feel binds us to each other and to GABF.  It’s our genuinely un-adultered passion for beer and the comradery that it nurtures.  We as beer geeks spend a lot of time turning our knowledge and understanding of quality beer into some kind of intellectual property (I’m guilty), but during this one week we allow our passion to consume our intellect.  We all succumb to being a kid in a candy store, where the candy will get you hammered!

Saturday October 1, 2011 at 12:32PM MST:

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Look at all the people!

I like so many of you scampered over to the Convention Center eagerly awaiting my shot to see the big show.  My tiny mind racing with anticipation of being unleashed into a swarm of my people all with the singular goal to imbibe the best the American craft beer scene has to offer.  I hold my wrist band high as I walk through the final checkpoint before I hurdle myself into a sea of beer.  One final step as I make eye contact with a volunteer and the glass in his hand.  I feel the cold glass hit my hand and now nothing can stop me!  GABF 2011: I can now be counted in your annals of history.  I take a second to gather myself before I urinate down my leg like an over-excited Chihuahua.  I know the breweries I need to hit, the beers I need to drink and there is nothing except a few thousand people standing in my way.  When I look at the faces of the dizzying masses and eavesdrop on their elated conversations I am reminded of another reason that this is the greatest show on earth (do I have to pay royalties for using that line?): all the beers we have heard about, read about and tasted, now have a face.  They are personified by the hard working, passionate and dedicated people who have come from around the country to share their art with complete strangers.  They have come to allow their work to be judged and hopefully enjoyed by their peers.  We as consumers, critics and fans are given the opportunity to bridge the gap and speak directly to the horse’s mouth (that’s how the saying goes, right?).  You get to look the creator in the eye and say “thank you” or “please don’t ever brew another beer, ever”.  I highly recommend sticking with the former, but the choice is completely yours and that’s the beauty of it.  Seriously, don’t be an asshole and say that, just think it and stop drinking their beers.

Saturday October 1, 2011 at 1:32PM MST:

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More people! The line for cheese is a line you don't cut.

Since I was on a tight timetable I powered through some obligatory “must try” beers and ran over to the south wall of the hall.  I was and still am honored to have been invited to be a guest on the live broadcast of Craft Beer Radio (@beerguys760) from inside GABF.  If just being a guest wasn’t bad-ass enough, I was sandwiched between guests Greg Koch (Stone Brewing) and Jim Koch (Boston Beer Co.) two true pioneers in this messed up world we live in.  I’m pretty sure I was just filling air time, but whatever, I’ll take it.  Jeff and Gary are great ambassadors for the craft beer world and you should listen to their show, if you know what’s good for you.  I won’t bore you with any of the blah blah we talked about, but it could change your life (bull!).  We did briefly discuss my collaboration brewing with my good friends at Bull & Bush which brings me to the final leg of the tripod that is all that is great about The Great American Beer Festival: the relationships that are formed due to our insatiable thirst for great beer!  All the paths that compel us to engulf ourselves in GABF are different, but each story includes people who have guided us in our journey of discovery.  Erik Peterson and Gabe Moline of Bull & Bush are two of so many people that have had an influence on the Beerman I am today.  Every day, it seems, I am blessed to add more names to an ever expanding universe of brothers (and sisters) in beer.  At the core of what drinking a beer (or any adult beverage) means to us is the bond it creates between like-minded (albeit quite inebriated minds) people.

This week my goal was to put into words what the human element of GABF and the craft beer galaxy in general means to me.  As you can tell from reading I have no damn clue, but I sure did get to drink some amazing beer!

About Jensen Cummings


Jensen Cummings (@JensenDCummings) is the Executive Chef at Row 14 in downtown Denver. He calls his food "Pangean Cuisine" and his teaching style "Fortune Cookie Philosophy" so you know he's a little off his rocker! His side passion project is to collaborate with brewers on chef/food inspired beers meant to be paired with high end cuisine. Jensen is an avid beer collector, student of spirits, soon to be Certified Cicerone and a sommelier in training. Basically, he is just really into adult beverages and super geeky!