The best part about attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver is sampling brews from faraway points that, unless you had an unlimited travel expense account (hint, hint), you’d never otherwise taste. The worst part is knowing that, unless you can somehow make a road trip to East Japip, you’ll never get to taste ’em again.
That’s because many of the festival beers are not widely distributed outside of their hometown. And often they’re brewed in limited editions.
So, I won’t tempt you with the details of the flowery hop aroma of Bert Grant’s Real Ales Fresh Hop Ale (Yakima, Wash.). And how can I adequately describe the sensuous, nose-warming buzz you get from a pint of Alaskan Smoked Porter (Juneau, Alaska).
You hadda be there.
But good news is brewing. No official announcements, yet, but Joe Sixpack has learned that the GABF is planning its first regional blast, in Baltimore, next May 16. That’s Preakness weekend, for those who don’t follow the ponies, so either book your room or line up a designated driver now.
GABF founder Charlie Papazian told me the regional fest would showcase this year’s medal-winners along with East Coast breweries that didn’t make the trip west.
If anybody makes the trip, I’m hoping it’s the guys from the Brew Works at the Party Source. This oddly named brewpub in Covington, Ky., was the sensation of the festival, laying out one of the best varieties of ales I’ve ever seen from a single brewery.
None of its beers, though, are bottled for distribution.
The year-old brewery won four medals, including a bronze for a Belgian-style ale called Mephistopheles Metamorphosis that, if you peek, will bring goosebumps to your private parts. It’s brewed with five different yeasts that produce a strong, complex taste that changes with age.
If you want to taste it, you’ll have to time your trip to Kentucky for the first Friday of the month; that’s the only day they tap the MM keg.
Otherwise, you’ll have to satisfy yourself with its other medal-winning brews: Altered State, a Dusseldorf-style brown ale; Devou Dark, a porter; and BrewMecca Munich Helles, a light-colored lager.
So much for my steel-trap memory.
During my reporting last week from Denver, I failed to mention one of the local medal winners: Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant in Delaware took a gold in the Munchener Helles category for its Lodestone Lager.
It’s not bottled – you’ll have to make the trip down to the brewpub at 147 E. Main St., Newark, Del. Schedule your visit for a Wednesday this month so you can enjoy the medal-winner at the 11-month-old brewpub’s weekly Oktoberfest celebration.
Not into lagers? Brewmaster Mark Edelson is producing some decent ales, too. Among them: Pig Iron Porter, which last March was named Philadelphia’s Favorite Beer in Beer Philadelphia’s annual People’s Choice Awards.
Travel tip: Go south on I-95 to Exit 109; take Route 2 east toward Newark. You’ll pass State Line Liquors (1610 Elkton Road, Elkton, Md.; 800-446-9463), which stocks more than 800 beers, including an exceptional variety of Belgians. If the LCB asks, don’t tell them I sent you.
TOUR DE BREW
Beer historian Rich Wagner is picking through the dust of old Philadelphia breweries again. He’ll lead a walk-around of the dormant sites on Oct. 25. Cost is $35, including lunch and a copy of his brewery book. Call 215-922-3031 for details.
Meanwhile, at the Atwater Kent Museum (15 S. 7th St.), check out Wagner’s collection of bottles from the old breweries that once made this a world-class beer city. Note to mooches: The bottles are empty.