Event Recap | Beers Made By Walking 2016
Beers Made By Walking’s sixth go-around did not disappoint attendees at the Denver Nature and Science museum this past Tuesday, Oct. 4. Attendees rolled in at 5:30 p.m. sharp to fill their tasting glasses alongside earthly relics like a sparkling gemstone exhibit and a huge whale skeleton suspended from the rafters. The setting was certainly fitting for the nature theme of the festival, and breweries displayed whimsical adjuncts like pine cones and berries on their respective tables. I felt a buzz just thinking about how the event’s proceeds would be directly benefitting this museum we were standing in.
For an overview of the festival as a whole, check out our event preview published just a few weeks back. The execution of this Beers Made By Walking event was unlike no other beer fest I’d been to – I was unsure what to expect from a collection of one-off beers, crafted by some of my friendly neighborhood breweries with what some would consider less-friendly ingredients. Breweries got super creative this year with ingredients like spruce tips, sumac berries, invasive Scotch broom and dandelion plants, cherry bark and rose hips. Paradox Beer Company even showed up with a traditional Sahti beer that had been run through a carved-out aspen tree! There were also a healthy number of bacterial/sour beers pouring with the intent to complement the spicy and herbal ingredients with strains of Saccharomyces and Brett. Here are some of the highlight pours from the evening:
Black Trumpet Biere De Mars | Scratch Brewing
If there were any festival that best represented the ideals and brewing philosophy of Scratch Brewing, Beers Made by Walking would be the one. The Illinois-based brewery forages for most of their brewing ingredients and this year’s presence during GABF was underscored by the theme of mushrooms. Their Black Trumpet Biere De Mars being the best example with a rich, earthy, somewhat chocolaty taste. With Scratch’s beers you really do feel that connection to hand-sourced ingredients without losing any of the quality in the beer. It pushes the boundaries of your understanding of what beer can be.
Perambulation Ale | Horse & Dragon Brewing
This golden ale was brewed with red sumac berries that come from the small sumac shrub. The berries added a bit of tartness and the ale was refreshing overall. An attendee standing nearby commented that “this would be the perfect ale after a hike,” and I agree! Every year Horse and Dragon brews a version of this beer and donates $1 of each taproom sale to charity, which makes it extra awesome.
Belgian Peach Cobbler Ale | Living the Dream Brewing
This beer was indulgent, but with cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger and peaches, I couldn’t help but enjoy it the way I would a well executed pumpkin beer. Who cares if it’s been done? It tastes damn good.
Foeder-Fermented Saison with Herbs | TRVE Brewing
TRVE’s offering was one of my favorites. Their sour base (based off a classic English style called Mumm) was layered with notes of spicy/floral herbs including sage, chamomile, elderflower, bergamot and dandelion. Just when the herbal notes felt a bit strong, they pulled back.
Highline Plum Saison Brett | Dry Dock Brewing Company
This beer was brewed in conjunction with Denver’s High Line Canal Conservancy organization and is a mix of two of Dry Dock’s in-house Lacto and Brett strains. The brewer added a high-elevation plum varietal he/she found growing by a creek near their house. The yeast blend was perfect and the plum added a jammy-fruit flavor.
Sweet Romance Lavender Stout | Goldspot Brewing & The Grateful Gnome Collaboration
This beer was one of a handful of dark styles at the festival. The beer was “dry-lavendered” (rather than dry-hopped) with a culinary lavender that blended nicely with the dark style. It was great to taste a beer from Denver’s up-and-coming Grateful Gnome Brewery, set to open near the end of 2016.
MICROB | Black Project
This was another absolute favorite. It was a nice, citrusy, minerally Brett saison made with 40 yeasts collected from all around the country! This beer was a great reminder that yeast is not just a cultured thing from a lab but an organism that thrives in nature all around us.
Plum Saison | Ratio Beerworks
This firkin from Ratio contained the Japanese Umeboshi plum, a tart varietal that complemented the tartness of the saison. In addition, the brewer added plums found on his neighborhood tree. The aged result was an enchanting purple hue and tasted very plum-heavy and earthy!
Wild Mint Imperial Coffee Stout | Crooked Stave Artisan Beer
Now that it’s fall, stouts are tasting oh-so-good. Crooked Stave started with their very solid imperial stout base and aged it with fresh mint and some coffee. This was the first non-sour beer I’d tried from Crooked Stave and it was roasty and complex with subtle mint. I went back for a second.
Saison with Orange Blossom Honey & Douglas Fir Needles | Upslope Brewing
Living in Colorado, you stumble upon a fir-needle beer every once in a while. I have to say this one was the best executed of all the fir-needle beers I’ve tried. Fir needles can be a downright pungent ingredient, and their presence in this ale was subtle and welcome, appearing just at the end and perfectly balanced with the honey.