Great American Beer Fest: Tips to Enjoying It, Instead of Puking

Beer in your futureA long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, beer was just beer to me. It’s heartbreaking…I know.

My first GABF was 11 years ago. I did what many people do: get trashed and not make it to even half the breweries. More than likely, I visited only a quarter of them. I lacked the wisdom and taste buds to be discerning. Don’t get me wrong, I had a shit ton of fun until I found myself releasing the demons of that fast and furious 4 hour session onto 14th Street and at a porcelain throne in a bar.

Things change.

Long past are those days. Now, I have a game plan when I go in. So for all you newbies, I’m sharing this in case your only plan is to try some beers.

1. Choose ahead. Whether it’s a style of beer, a region, specific breweries, or medal winners, be specific in what you’re going to drink. It’s a HUGE amount of beers and even to someone like me, it’s still overwhelming and extremely tempting to jump off course.

2. Use your will power. Stick to your choice because once you jump off the wagon, it’s hard to get back on.

3. Don’t feel obligated to drink everything you try. For many years, even with sticking to my chosen beer path, I’d get tanked because I drank every bit that was poured, whether it was bleah or awesome. If it doesn’t impress me, I dump it because I have long list to get to and I’d rather save my wits and taste buds for awesomeness. Sometimes, I even spit.

4. Go with friends that understand or alone. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for a friend in a long line at a brewery that you’re not tasting at. This can contribute to getting off your beer course. Going with peeps that are okay with not seeing you for the next 4 hours because your beer interests vary is important. Or find beer buddies that have the same plan as you. Personally, I’m a fan of going alone. Let’s be serious, beer people are friendly and if you go alone, you’re not really alone. You’re with the best extended family in the world.

5. Bring beer snacks. Nuts, pretzels, potato chips…whatever your preferred drinking snack is, bring it. This will help with not getting tanked. It also helps in not wasting time standing in line to get a snack. As dorky as they are, I appreciate the wisdom of pretzel necklaces. It also doubles as a good way to make friends or to hit on beer girls. You’ve had a lot of beers and you’re peckish? Would you like a pretzel?

6. Get tickets for more than one session. If you have the funds and time, it’s totally worth it. There’s a lot to do besides tasting beer.

7. Map your game plan in advance. The floor map, events, and breweries are on GABF’s website already. The beer list comes out on Wednesday, Oct 1st. Which means you can have your tasting experience mapped out and ready to go before you step into the gates of heaven. Of course being flexible in the plan is important: beers get tapped out, there’s longer lines than expected, you get distracted by the really cute guy/girl you offered a pretzel to, people keep asking to take photos with you because your outfit is cool… distractions happen. If you know where you want to go and where that booth is, you don’t have to waste time trying to find it.

This year, I won’t be attending GABF. Yes, I am super sad but sometimes there are more important things in life (hard to believe, I know). BUT I will be attending some of the fun extracurricular activities, like the Great Avery Boulder Fest at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.

Have a great 2014 GABF and I’ll be back for 2015!!

P.S. Cut a rug for me at the Silent Disco!!

The Re-learned Stealing Lesson


In the 37 years I’ve been on this planet, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten out of bed and dressed so fast as when I heard those words from my roommate last night. One might think that being woken up by someone beating a metal trash can and blaring Welcome to the Jungle by Gun and Roses would. At mini-bootcamp that was expected.

I was not expecting it at 10:30pm last night as I had just drifted off to dreamtime.

The dynamics of my new hood are this: There’s a light rail station about a block and a half down the alley. Which has turned it into the undesignated highway for pedestrians of all sorts. For some strange reason, it is also oddly high in vehicle traffic. Pretty much all of our neighbors park behind their homes but there seems to be extra traffic. Why, I’m not quite sure yet, but my old instincts say it has to do with either stealing or dumpster diving. There’s a school right across the street, so I always hope that it keeps some of the hood traffic more behaved. On the overall, the hood isn’t the best, it is so-called “up and coming” with a mix of peeps. I think a big drug bust went down on Sunday just a few blocks from me. I heard gun shots and my roommate said there were a bunch of unmarked cars blocking off a large section of the street. Did it scare me? No. I’ve lived in similar hoods in NYC.

Which is why this is the re-learned stealing lesson.

I know better than to leave things out. I admit…I got careless. Sloppy. I trusted just a little too much.

She leads a charmed life, this one.

She leads a charmed life, this one.

I had a strange feeling yesterday when I looked at my beer bike that something was going to happen to it. Now, there were 5 bikes on the back porch. One was busted but with some really nice parts on it(not locked), a Schwinn from 1975 U-locked to a ladies Trek, a cruiser with back baskets(not locked), and the ever awesome beer bike(front tire locked to the frame). My 6th bike was in the house, the blue Azuki from the 1970’s. The beer bike has been making strange sounds so I wasn’t riding it until I could get a moment to bring it to the Denver Bicycle Cafe for some stand time.

Of course that feeling was stronger when I came home mid-day to some weirdos in the alley. Since there is alot of pedestrian traffic, I usually just take note of the person(s) and go on my biking way. But these two…there was something pretty shifty about them. Part of it was because I actually noticed them. That’s usually a good sign for me to not trust someone. The lady was maybe 5’6″, thin, strawberry blonde ratty hair, wider jaw line, maybe in her late 40s or early 50’s with the wear and tear of years of street life. The guy was harder to see since he was crouched down looking into one of grocery bags he had. He was wearing a trucker cap, was definitely shorter than the woman but not by much and had sort of a mixed ethnic look leaning to a tan complexion. My brain said they were doing something to the garage door they had stopped next to, but my eyes saw a man looking into his grocery bag and a woman waiting.  I should always listen to my brain.

I went to bed early. My roommate stayed up.

She had one light on in the living room. There was a noise of something moving/shifting. She looked for Asia (the cat) but saw her lounging on the floor. She turned her head to the kitchen window at the back of our house to see someone in our backyard fumbling with a bike. She ran for the window, slammed her hand on it, opened the back door SCREAMED at the perpetrator (who fumbled even more with the bike at the back gate), and that’s where this story began. The whole transaction was seconds.

“Do we have a bat?”

“Yeah, I think it’s in the laundry room. I think he might have left your bike in the alley. Was it locked up?”

“Front wheel to the frame.”

“Let’s go see…”

My roommate is someone you don’t screw with. I always joke that she’s strong like a small pony but she is. And when she’s pissed, you better pray she’s not pissed at you.

We go out to the alley pumped on adrenaline, bat in her able hands. I was tempted to grab my favorite kitchen knife, but I know better than to bring “a knife to a potential gun fight.” Not that I would have shanked the person, but much more of a safety blanket for walking out into the night when someone was just on my back porch. Again, I know better than that which is why I didn’t.

Let me tell you ladies, there is nothing more important in situations like this than to know you’ve taken a shit ton of self-defense classes where the instructor has a scary padded man actually attack you. If you take a class and they don’t do that, you’re getting cheated the ability to actually use your skills in real-time and that is a HUGE disservice.

It’s not easy to run with a bike on your shoulders.

The beer bike was two houses down the alley.

In my imaginative little mind, it was like picking up a downed man in a gun fight. One man to provide cover and get your back while you grab your hurt companion from a compromised position. As we walked back into our yard, my eyes were scanning every where for the enemy to jump out.

All the bikes slept inside the house last night. I slept with a knife in my hands. The baseball bat slept next to my roommate’s bedroom door. The front and back doors slept with booby traps. Not long after we had settled into our beds after this adventure, Asia starts this odd cooing. Apparently, she caught a mouse and dropped it…somewhere….

We both agree that last night was the most bizarre night we’ve had in a long time. It’s really quite unsettling that someone would come up on our back porch at 10:30pm, despite the bike stealing. I see a motion detector light on the back porch in the very near future.

**On a side note, if you live in Denver and you see the couple I described, be VERY wary. My roommate saw a very similar if not the same couple behind a previous residence of hers about a year ago when her bicycle was stolen out of her garage. Coincidence? Maybe.  But it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.

Dikeou Collection

I know when I’m in a good art gallery when the weird creations that are before me represent the inside of my head.

How’d they do that?

On a sunny late summer day, I had the very odd opportunity to visit the Dikeou Collection in Denver. Located just off the 16th Street Mall at 1615 California on the 5th floor, the building gives you nothing as to what is inside. Having left the heat and sunshine behind, my friend and I were greeted in the foyer with this:

Is that a moon-scape?

Is that a moon-scape?

I love whimsical art. This  one took the cake. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone take such great care and apparently a massive amount of time to do what was on the inside of this thing. Seriously, look inside it and take your time looking. It’s brilliantly crazy.

What are those guys doing to that...fuzzy...yellow...thing?

What are those guys doing to that…fuzzy…yellow…thing?

This is getting weirder...

This is getting weirder…

Wait a second...calm their hair...?

Wait a second…calm their hair…?

This is just the beginning! There is a whole FLOOR of artwork like this just waiting for you! I should have taken this as the precursor to what was going to happen. I walked around the whole gallery thinking, “Who makes stuff like this? And WHY am I not already friends with them? This is AMAZING!!!!!” Especially upon walking into the suite to be greeted by this:

Resist the urge to jump on them.

Resist the urge to jump on them.

The complete wonder that overtook me as we went from room to room was overwhelming. It felt like my head exploded. Some of the art is interactive:

I don’t want to give everything away, so you’re just going to have to check it out for yourself. Unfortunately, the gallery is open for just a short time, Wednesdays-Fridays from 11am-5pm. It’s worth playing hooky to see it.

CapRock Farm Bar

Last night I had the pleasure of going to the opening of Peak Spirits’ new tasting room in The Source, located at 3350 Brighton Blvd.

CapRock Farm Bar: It’s totally modern industrial swank-ilicious.

The clean look of the tasting room, which is situated smack dab in the middle of The Source, makes CapRock Farm Bar the shining jewel of the old foundry. With seating that fits anyone’s mood, from half booths to tables to bar stools, you can get cozy and enjoy the wares of gin, vodka, peach and pear brandies, and grappa.

If you’re looking for beer….you’re not going to find it here. What you will find is a menu of very unique, simple drinks that are made with mother earth lovins’. The ingredients in their mixed drinks are organic and damn spanking tasty. With names like Detox Retox, North Fork, Summer Wind, Woo Woo, and A+ Farmhouse you can imagine what these drinks have in store for you. Carrots, watermelons, strawberries, crab apples, golden beets are just some of the juices they use to create concoctions that fit anyone’s palate. Don’t be shy to ask for a variation either. These guys know what they’re doing. I don’t think I’ve ever had cocktails that felt and tasted so clean.

Never had any of the CapRock spirits? Not a problem. You can also order a flight. It’s a tasting room! Duh…

And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. The Farm Bar works with the other establishments there and has snacks! Cheese and salumi plates, olives and nuts, or if you want to get all French, half a baguette with butter. From what I hear, it’s all part of their master plan to create a feeling of community with the businesses around them and for the public. Swanky, tasty, organic and ethically minded? These guys should get an award.

After 3 drinks and tasting the other drinks my motley crew ordered, I awoke today with a feeling of awesomeness instead of a hang over. That’s what high quality does.

And the piggy back ride I got probably helped too…

*I would have taken a photo, but I felt a little overwhelmed by the place when I first walked in. And then I just totally forgot after drink #1. Whoops.*

Utica Club

Tonight is another Denver Cruiser Ride night. I am dressed in my finest white trash trailer park clothes with rollers, shower cap, and racially different babies in tow. If you didn’t guess, that’s the theme. Now that I’m out of work, I’m sitting at The Interstate Bar waiting for Phillip (aka the best partner in crime for me ever that is totally platonic) drinking a Utica Club and munching on deviled eggs and a pulled pork slider.

If you’ve never had a Utica Club, well…you’re not missing much. It’s a NY state thing that stays mostly upstate, aka Central New York (CNY). So to find it in Denver, almost 2000 miles away from the city (Utica) that had the 4th worst municipal water in the United States at one time, feels like a hug from a stranger in an elevator.

I’m drinking it mostly for the novelty tonight. It speaks to me of bonfires, trucks, and lots of laughter. It is brewed by The West End Brewing Company in Utica, NY. Their mascots are Schultz and Dooley, beer steins of a German and an Irishman thus showing the influence of these immigrants to the area. On the can it says, “First beer sold in the United States after prohibition”. From all my memory, I count this as true since the brewery survived that horrible period by making soda instead. Don’t trust me on that. I did the tour once when I was 5 years old and then at 25. This beer has been in my memory since day one. Even though its not exceptional by any means, it’s one I will drink with very fond memories.