Great American Beer Festival 2009 – Part 5

Part 5 of a series of posts about the GABF. Click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Friday was another fun filled day. Our plan was to meet Rob’s friend Melissa and her gang at 11:30 down at the unofficial GABF headquarters, the Falling Rock Tap House. Falling Rock had plans to tap a series of special kegs throughout the day, and we wanted to be a part of it. The first keg that gets tapped at noon is the Sierra Nevada Kill-A-Keg. The goal is to empty a Sierra Nevada keg (get it poured into glasses and get them off to tables) as fast as possible. The previous year the time to empty it was 15 minutes and 4 seconds.

To get down to Falling Rock, which is located near the baseball stadium, Rob and I had a nice 2 mile morning walk from the Ramada/RockMada down to the Tap House. We got there around 11 and were treated to a nice inside table. After a couple of warm-up brews (they don’t have a beer list online, so I can’t recall what we had) and some lunch, high noon had finally arrived. As everyone gathered around the bar for the tappeagerly awaiting the frothy goodness, you could feel the energy all around you. Finally the bell rang out and the proprietor went to work pouring as fast as possible. It was a whirlwind of amber nectar and foam as he filled glass after glass. When the dust cleared and the last bit of liquid poured forth from the keg, the timer was stopped and we all gasped at the new record of 12 minutes. Congrats Falling Rock! That was some serious pouring. Of course that really sets the bar high for next year.

As part of the keg tapping, Sierra Nevada brought some wonderful souvenir pint glasses to distribute. Unfortunately our waiter was not able to snag any of them for us before they ran out but that would be rectified before the day was over. We enjoyed our wonderful speed-poured noon Sierra Nevada brew and awaited the next keg tapping.

Sierra Nevada Speed Keg

At 12:30pm they tapped a keg of Sierra Nevada Estate Ale. This beer was brewed with hops and barley grown on the Sierra Nevada brewery’s estate. This was a wonderful beer. Rob fell hard for this beer. I believe he was ready to give up all other beers and swear his allegiance to this one. Unfortunately it was a special edition and not available year around. The Estate Ale was followed up with a wet-hopped Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale that I really enjoyed though it could not sway Rob from his new found devotion to the Estate Ale.

Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale

Somewhere in here the fine owner of Brasserie La Chouffe from Belgium handed out some nice red La Chouffe elf hats to us. Once we had donned our hats, we went out front to be part of a big group picture for the brewery.

We came back to our table and Rob began to notice that many of the people that had received the wonderful souvenir Sierra Nevada pint glasses had decided not to take them with them when they left. He then became a man on a mission to get everyone at our table a souvenir glass. And succeed at his mission he did. All 6 of us ended up with a nice souvenir glass (which Melissa kindly enough said she would take by our hotel since we had plans later and couldn’t carry them around).

At 2pm the next keg was a cask ale. This turned out to be the wonderful Left Hand/Terrapin Brewing Depth Charge Espresso Milk Stout that we had during the Brews Cruise on Wednesday. I loved this beer so I was very pleased to get to try it again (in a bigger glass no less).

Depth Charge Espresso Milk Stout

Come 3pm we had to say goodbye to our wonderful Falling Rock Tap House because we had other plans to attend to. Thanks for the good times Falling Rock!

Falling Rock Tap House

Why would we willingly leave such a fun place you may ask? Well we had a party to go to. The Flying Dog Brewery was throwing their F.B.A.G (Flying Dog Brats & Gonzo) party. Free beer, brats, and live music. How could we turn that down? Plus this party was a just a short walk from the Falling Rock. On our way we had to pass by the baseball stadium, so we thought we might try to get some scalped tickets for the sold out Friday night game. The first scalper we ran into balked at my price range when I said cheap, but as I was halfway across the street another scalper started yelling at me, “I got cheap, I got cheap!”. I went back over and picked up some deep right field tickets for $20/each ($10 face value). I couldn’t complain because it was a sold out game. Tickets scored, we kept on walking till we found the party (of course how could it be a party till we showed up?).

Flying Dog Brats & Gonzo

This was a really nice setup. Brats, chips, and other assorted finger foods. Free beer from the entire Flying Dog lineup, and live music. Here is a great review of the Flying Dog Brats and Gonzo party from another attendee. And that guy even managed to catch me in one of his FBAG pictures on Flickr. Do you see me? I’m the guy with the beer :-). Seriously though, I am in the first picture of his set. There is a sliver of Rob and Melissa and her friend as well. They all look really enthralled about whatever I’m going on about in that pic. Must have been some good conversation I was spewing. Either that or they are just being polite.

The musical entertainment was provided by Rob Drabkin. He is a very talented artist, and he has the kind of awesome hair that I dream about having. If I can’t have Elvis’s hair, I want Rob Drabkin’s. Check out his music online.

After getting our Gonzo on for a couple of hours, it was time for Rob and I to head over to the baseball game and see what $20 in scalped tickets gets us.

Right Field Nosebleed Section

The right-field upper deck. That is what it gets you. This game was a very exciting one though. Even from the upper deck. The Rockies were up 1-0 over the Cardinals most of the game. St. Louis tied it up in the 7th and then in the bottom of the ninth, the Rockies won on a sacrifice fly (USA Today Game Recap). Go Rockies! Not only did we get to see the hometown team win, but since it was Friday night, it was a fireworks game. We were treated to an incredible 20 minute fireworks show.

Rockies Fireworks

After the game we caught the bus back towards the hotel. We had taken the bus a couple of times, but this Friday evening it was a bit more interesting than usual. There were guys panhandling from on the bus to everyone that would get on board. I can’t believe the bus driver allowed this. Especially because any time someone wouldn’t give the panhandlers any money they went into a rant about 400 years of oppression, slave trade, Thomas Jefferson, etc, etc. Rob decided we were done with Denver public transportation after this little adventure. Come on Denver, that is ridiculous. Panhandlers should be tossed onto the street if they harass passengers.

After getting off near our hotel, we decided why not make another run to the wonderful late night 24 hour diner of Pete’s Kitchen. Another Pita Breakfast Sandwich later, we were on our way back to the Ramada/RockMada.

Upon arriving back at the hotel and picking up our souvenir glasses from the front desk that Melissa had dropped by, we were pleasantly surprised to find that she had given me an early birthday gift (the next day was my birthday, of course it was after midnight, so it really was my birthday then). She gave us a bottle of champagne. So what were we to do after a long day of the Falling Rock Tap House, the Brats and Gonzo party, the baseball game, and Pete’s Kitchen. Well we cracked open the champagne and had a birthday drink. Thanks Melissa! It was a blast hanging out with you and your friends.

Finally we wound down and called it a night. We had one last full day in Denver on Saturday and we were determined to make the most of it.

Click to read Part 6.

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