Tuesday, April 22, 2014

At The Craft Brewers Conference

I recently returned from Denver where I attended the Craft Brewers Conference. It was quite the gathering of brewers, suppliers and manufacturers. This was also a World Beer Cup competition year. While the conference is a yearly event, the competition is biannual. I was pleased to be one of the 219 judges to select the best beers from a staggering 4754 entries that hailed from 1403 breweries in 58 countries. In categories that ranged from Berliner Weisse to Barley Wine. India had four participating breweries, all from Bangalore (Arbor, Biere Club, Toit & Windmills Craftworks) and while none received any awards, it was good to see the country represented. A complete list of winners can be found here. I highly recommend sampling any of these great beers in their home towns when traveling to taste them at their best.

As I missed the last two conferences, this was a great opportunity for me to catch up with lots of old friends, sit in on a few technical seminars, visit some amazing breweries and drink some truly stunning beer. The most memorable were Sierra Nevada’s Ovila on-tap at Falling Rock Alehouse, New Belgium's La Folie in pre and post soured versions at the Brewery and the gold medal winning Kellierbier (Pils) from New Mexico's Marble Brewery in a final-round judging session. I haven't been to Denver in a while so discovering the Belgian beer bar Cheeky Monk was as much a pleasure as the draft Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus I tasted there. Many Colorado breweries are making world-class beer these days and have long since outgrown their micro beginnings and are now large regional producers.

A bit-o wood at New Belgium

One of my favorite seminars of the conference was put on by the German glass manufacturer Spiegelau where beer was sampled and compared in their beer style-specific glassware to that in a standard shaker pint. The difference was pretty remarkable. I was especially impressed with their newish Stout glass. I'll be writing more about these in a future post that deals with tasting in greater depth but one thing I found was that not only did Left Hand's wonderful nitrogenated Stout taste better in this glass, all beer tasted better in it! And if that wasn't enough, Spiegelau very generously gifted six glasses to all attendees.

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