One of the most exciting activities associated with the GABF event for me was the media lunch. I have heard such good things and I wasn’t disappointed.
It was held at the Kevin Taylor Opera House, right around the corner from the convention center. The space was really cool and I was able to get a seat next to John Holzer and Greg Nagel at a table close to the stage. We were seated with a starter pour of Gose Both Ways from Twisted Pine and soon was handed our Amuse of poached shrimp with Left Hand’s Polestar Pilsner. The dish was light and tasty and the pilsner was an easy drinkable beer.
The first dish was a crispy duck pastrami terrine served with Bell’s Brewing Company Two Hearted Ale. The terrine was intense in flavor and the beer matched that intensity in my opinion. I would’ve maybe paired it with a saison or something that was more balancing the strong flavor of the dish instead of a hoppy malty beer. Regardless, it was delicious.
The entree dish was a pork roulade paired with Ladyface Ale House Trebuchet Golden Farmhouse Ale. I think this pairing was wonderful. The pork was crispy and meaty with a tangy and complex farmhouse ale that wasn’t overpowering while complimenting the meat. The dessert was a butterscotch budino (basically a firm pudding or panna cotta) with Allagash Curieux. The desert was super sweet but the main component of the butterscotch was tasty. The beer was sweet and boozy with bold notes of vanilla and oak and overall so yummy. It felt weird having this beer so early in the day but hey, when at a beer lunch…During the lunch several industry peeps talked for a bit about the state of the craft beer industry. It was really inspirational stuff. Leave it to the media lunches to get me all pumped to go and spread my love for craft beer. My cup runnith over again.
We then went from the lunch to a short bus tour to two local craft breweries, Ratio and Spangalang. First up was Ratio Beerworks where the group was able to get a presentation about the brewery and taste some of the staple beers. I was impressed by the space and the modern design. I also loved the punk influences. Some of the beers I tried were pretty good, and one of them was a bit watered down in body. I would try them again though!
Second stop was Spangalang, where the beers were really creative and tasty. The tap room was less designed and had a mello hippy vibe. There was even some strange calypso music being played when we piled in. Considerably smaller and weirder, Spangalang had some great kitchy qualities that was inexplicably endearing and fun.
From there, me and Greg hopped on an uber to meet up with John at The Source – a cool packinghouse place where you could eat dinner at a restaurant, shop at a butcher, or get a beer from the new Crooked Stave taproom. We hung out for a while at Crooked Stave, endured the crazy GABF crowd, then went across the street to the new Great Divide barrel room for a few more beers. Both places were new, hip, and places I would love to visit again. Stellar beers, and good times were had by all.