On Sunday, I had a chance to attend the Great International Beer Festival, an annual industry event put on by Elite Brands of Colorado. Elite Brands is a booze distributor that has been around for a long time and has a great reputation for their access to interesting beers, which they deliver to your outlet of choice. The festival itself is in its seventh year and was a pretty good time. Unfortunately, it is an industry only deal, but I would bet that if you have a few friends behind a bar you might be able to worm your way in. Give it a try.
The cool difference about this event that is apparent from other small festivals is that along with local and national brands there were a significant number of import labels. Loads of stuff from Belgium, England and elsewhere, giving a really nice look at what your favorite restaurant or bar can get a hold of. Of course, there were plenty of familiar brands to enjoy. Epic Brewing was showing off their fantastic “Brainless” series. This is a well constructed Belgian-style golden ale that is then aged on different fruit. Mention Brainless On Peaches to a beer geek and they will start to drool and drone endlessly on about fruit presence and yeast profile and probably bore you to death on the spot. Even if you are not a beer expert, I can tell you that this is a sign of a tasty beer. If this happens go out and buy as much of that variety as you can.
Another interesting thing to note is that beer is not the only beverage finding its way into cans. Redstone, the venerable Colorado meadery, is getting in on the action. In the upcoming months look for their honey-based libation in cans in the cooler of your local store. The mead will be blended with fruit and carbonated and even as someone who has never had a taste for the stuff, the bright fizzy drink is pretty refreshing.
In all, it was a good festival and those with VIP access got to taste a few beers from Lost Abbey at Falling Rock Taphouse while head brewer Tomme Arthur described them. It was mainly advertising so I milled around and saw who was who. I can say this: the experts from the Denver booze industry are fun and knowledgeable folks. Even if you do not know them personally, when you visit some of our better restaurants, bars and liquor stores, you can trust that you are in very good hands. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get advice on what to drink.
Companies like Elite Brands are doing their very best to make it so you might get an unexpected suggestion that will make your experience that much better.