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Event Recap | 2017 What the Funk!? Invitational

Glassware from WTF 2017

From unicorn tears to blue cheese sours, the 2017 What the Funk!? Invitational brought another year of sensationally wild and funk barrel-aged beers–this year at the gorgeous Studios at Overland Crossing in Denver.

Other than GABF itself, WTF is easily one of my favorite yearly events that I look forward to every October. Since its launch in 2013, WTF has only gotten better in its maturity and beer selection (which, let’s face it, was hard to top to begin with). Chad Yakobson, founder of Crooked Stave, has been working to continuously improve the experience for the funky beer enthusiasts by making sure every guest has the same experience for one $100 ticket. That means no VIP early tastings and special release tappings happening every other hour and a half, including the last hour of the festival.

Photo courtesy of The Brewtography Project
Perennial/Fremont Brewing Collab Unicorn Tears | Photo courtesy of The Brewtography Project

Some of the‘s teams notable mentions include:

Barrel-aged Paw Paw | Scratch Brewing

Not only did we learn about “America’s Best Secret Fruit” because of this beer, we learned that we love Scratch Brewing even more than we did before. This bottle-conditioned farmhouse ale reminded me of walking out in a field at the start of spring–it had a light tartness but a wonderfully herbal nose; However, I could easily enjoy this beer any time of year.

WeldWerks Peach Climacteric

Medianoche Reserve | WeldWerks Brewing Co.

If you think 17-month Bourbon barrel-aged Medianoche is killer, wait until you get to taste the smoky complexity of its older sibling Medianoche Reserve that’s aged an additional 14 months in Woodford Reserve® Rye Whiskey barrels. You have to really swirl this one around in your mouth for a bit to pin point the toasted coconut playing off the cacao nibs and Madagascar vanilla bean, but it was the perfect chocolatey counter-point to the many wild sours that enveloped the event.

Frambruin | Baere Brewing Company

Oud Bruin is a style of beer we’re always happy to see out in the wild, and this modern take of it aged on raspberries was no exception.

Member Berries Primitivo | Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project

We can’t lie that we were mostly intrigued by this beer because of the South Park reference. The bold juiciness and red wine grape notes of this beer perfectly complimented the red/pink color. If you had this beer, you’d ‘member it as fondly as we do.

Drai Laag Grand Cru

Grand Blu | Draai Laag Brewing Company

We’re sure many people enjoy a nice crumbled blue cheese on top of their peach salads in the summertime, but who would have been brave enough to combine those two flavors into a beer? The folks from Draai Laag, that’s who! It’s a fermented peach ale with Penicillium Roqueforti, the organism used to make cave-aged blue cheese. This beer had a surprisingly delightful earthy aroma and slight taste to it while not overpowering the delicate peach flavor.

Photo courtesy of The Brewtography Project
Event goers enjoying one of the standing tables at The Studios at Overland Crossing | Photo courtesy of The Brewtography Project

Tiny Wooden Ships | Arizona Wilderness Brewing/Creature Comforts

If you have never had a sour beer before and want to know what a clean American sour ale tastes like, we would offer this as your premium gateway American sour beer if we could. If you still don’t like it, then… that’s cool, more for us!

Fremont Brewing Unicorn Tears

Unicorn Tears | Perennial/Fremont Brewing

Bourbon, cherries, and chocolate, oh my! We’re not sure what “unicorn tears” alone taste like, but we got a little teary-eyed ourselves when we sampled this deep red libation. And who doesn’t love glitter on a beer bottle?

Oude Kriek | Drie Fonteinen

Drie Fonteinen is the only remaining traditional gueuze blender in Belgium, using only 100% spontaneously fermented lambic beer, aged in oak casks, with no artificial sweeteners or other additives. Shelton Brothers brought in this cherry bomb of a Kriek and we were not complaining about it.

Powder Keg Palisade Reserve

Palisade Reserve | Powder Keg Brewing Co.

This beer was one of the more straightforward wild peach beers that we sampled, and it was expertly executed. Refreshingly tart, it poured a perfect hazy peach color and tasted like peach pie. We just needed this poured over some vanilla ice cream and we would have been set for the night.

La Cumbre | Hibiscus Quercus

La Cumbre has established a name for their hop blasts but their Farmhouse Saison aged in Tequila barrels was one of the most expressive surprises of the fest. The tequila flavor is measured but prominent and blended so well with the naturally tart profile brought on by the hibiscus.

The Rare Barrel Bellatrix

The Rare Barrel | Hyper Paradise

What I love most about What the Funk in regards to the curation of tremendous beers is that the lineup isn’t completely dominated by super acidic tart sours. Hyper Paradise is the perfect example with a more juice forward fruit component from brilliant bright mangos and passion fruit.

Photo courtesy of The Brewtography Project
There is much love to be had at WTF!? | Photo courtesy of The Brewtography Project

WTF!? 2017 was once again a head-turning beer event during GABF for the fifth year in a row. If you missed it this year, I’d be setting those calendar reminders now (but we know you already did that for GABF next year).

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