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And away they go 2010 GABF Beers

As is the annual tradition for the GABF, I am here to give you a bit of insight as to the beers we sent, categories entered and our reasoning.  It’s Friday morning and I just finished judging.  Most of my judge friends are finishing up their last rounds as we speak.

For the 2010 Great American Beer Festival we again have two booths and sets of beers on the floor.  On the Port Brewing side, we have entered the following beers:

Wipeout IPA-  This is entered in  Category 47- American IPA which remains the single largest category at the fest.  We love Wipeout, and it’s our best selling beer.  But seriously, I don’t know if this beer has enough aroma to slog its way to the final round of 12.  It’s just that tough.

Mongo IPA- A first year entry at the GABF this fall.  We LOVE Mongo.  It’s in great shape and along with Hop 15 is entered in Category 48 Imperial IPA.  We have won three medals for Hop 15 over the years.  But this year, I’m choosing Mongo as the victor for this race.

Hot Rocks Lager- Fresh off a Silver Medal win at the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago, we are again entering this beer in #13 Out of Category- Traditionally Styled Beers.  This is a new batch of Hot Rocks and we  think the bottles tasted amazing.  Clearly it has a tough road ahead of it.  This is category is growing in size each competition.  The batch that won in Chicago had a little bit deeper Melanoidin character and this one is drier so I just don’t know.

Panzer Pilsner has been moved out of the Pro Am side of the competition and is now entered in the Other Strong Ale and Lager Category 11.  The draft tasted awesome last night.   The bottles we opened at the brewery a week a go…not so much.  Definitely not going to be hopeful here.

The last of our 6 Port Brewing entries holds the most hope.  This year they have split the barrel aged strong beer category.  This means that barrel aged Imperial Stout like beers have their own place.  This is great.  I saw from the registrations that there were only 33 beers entered.  As this is the best batch of Older Viscosity we have ever made, it could do very well.  Perhaps Terri will have to accept the award (if it wins) since it’s her favorite beer of all time.

On the Abbey side of things, we have expanded the offerings to 9 beers entered in the competition.  I think there are some real opportunities to do well here.  Remember that last year we took home dual gold medals for Carnevale and Duck Duck Gooze.

We have entered both of these beers again.  The Carnevale is the 2010 version of the beer and it lands in category 65 Belgian and French Specialty.  We love this years batch as much as last years so fingers crossed.

The Duck Duck makes a return appearance to the Category 66 Lambic or Sour Ale along with Framboise de Amorosa.  It might be tough for the Duck Duck to repeat its gold medal ways.  But the bottle I shared with my dad the other night was pretty special.  Framboise was entered as a sour brown with raspberries added.  It’s a bit sharper than I would like it to be.  However, the raspberry character is so amazing, it can’t be overlooked.  We will need one of these beers to do well this week for sure.

This year we are not pouring Cuvee de Tomme nor have we entered it in the competition.  Taking Cuvee’s place is Brouwer’s Imagination #2.  This is a blended sour ale that was carefully put together after a very laborious tasting session after the Stone Sour Fest in July of 2009.  We LOVE the wine barrel expression in this beer.  It’s got an amazingly long tannic finish.

Bragging rights will be on the line in this category as Dave Keene brings Cable Car 2009 to the table.  If it’s any indication after last night (keg blew in 2 hours) this one is legit.  Rumor is Matt Bonney and Dave Keene have a side bet going as someone could walk away victorious.  The Cable Car is perfect right now.  The acid to wood balance is stunning.  So let’s hope both of them win and they figure out how to settle that bet.

The awards ceremony gets real for us at category # 7 which is the specialty beer category.  We won the Gold Medal in 2007 for Judgment Day here.  It’s been a while since I loved a batch of Judgment Day as much as I love this one  Let’s hope we hit the ground running with our first beer category of the afternoon.

After Judgment Day, we’ll have a short wait before the American Wild Ale Category gets called at #16.  We entered Red Poppy here this year.  My fear is that there is too much oak on display in the beer.  Everything else about the beer is fantastic.  The category specifically states no “Vanillan” so let’s hope the judges are boneheads here.

For the very first time, we will dip our toes in the water of Lager Land.  As you know from visiting the brewery, we have been working on a new beer called Road to Helles all summer long.  It’s fantastic.  The first batch was a bit too hoppy for style so it’s been entered as a German Pils.  Every bottle I opened in the last two weeks has been great.  Here’s hoping we shock the world Lager Style in category 25 German Style Pils.

And last but not least, we have returned to the GABF with Angel’s Share in hand.  Specifically, this is the 2010 batch of Angel’s Share Grand Cru.  For what it’s worth, I adore this beer.  I think the depth of flavors is silly.  I don’t expect this will pull its weight.  We love it.  Our patrons love it but I fear the judges will think otherwise.  If this thing catches lightning in a bottle, I for one will be very happy.

That’s it from Denver.  We’re about 25 hours away from the biggest beer award ceremony ever.  I’m already counting down the hours and know I won’t be sleeping much tonight. It’s a great feeling knowing we have so many chances to succeed on the biggest stage possible.  It’s Denver and we’ve brought the noise.

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