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Denver 2011 and GABF Entries Part one

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s September 29th which means that the GABF officially opens later today. This is the first GABF in 15 years that I will not be attending as Sydney’s new sister Lexi Morgan Arthur was born on Tuesday at 2:35pm.  All are doing well and  I am sure Lexi is dreaming about her first Duck Duck Gooze as we speak.

Each year before heading off to Denver, we the brewers at Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey sit down and appraise the entries we are sending (essentially we open one sample bottle held back from each bottling for the comp).  This year we are entering 14 beers (6 Port Brewing and 8 Lost Abbey beers).  Word on the street is that over 350 breweries registered more then 4,000 beers in the comp.  I also see there are 176 judges slated to make the determination which beers are medal worthy. Normally I relish the opportunity to be one of those judges.  But at 4,000 beers man they have the work cut out for them!

I’m sure many of you (like me) are curious how our beers will do.  Let’s take an inside look at the beers we’re sending and the categories they’ll be judged in.  Since there are less Port Brewing Beers, we’ll start there.

Panzer Pilsner – Category 13 Other Strong Ales and Lagers
You may recall that Panzer received a Silver Medal in this same category last year.  We weren’t enamored with the batch last year and while this one is good, it’s hard to know just what the judges will want in this category.  Rarely does it seem that beers consistently win in this category so we’ll hang our hopes elsewhere.

Hot Rocks Lager – Category 15 Indigenous Beers
Hot Rocks was literally on fire last year.  It won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup and a bronze at the Great American Beer Festival.  It was a great validation for our brewers that this beer “rocks.”  The category gets a new name this year but it’s still a game of this beer is out of category and awesome!  We love this batch of Hot Rocks but it may be a bit too bitter to stand up to the judges scrutiny.

Churchill’s Finest Hour – Category 22 Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Stout
From one of the most hotly contested categories at the festival comes our stealth entry.  The only Port Brewing Beer not being poured on the festival floor, Churchill’s Finest Hour Imperial Stout has a layered texture we don’t normally see in our barrel beers (Older, Angel’s and Santa’s).  There is a higher residual extract as well which means the beer has great silky body.  While I would love to see this beer do well for multiple reasons, it’s one of the most contested categories at the fest.

Wipeout IPA – Category 51 American Style IPA
You really have to love a category that shows no signs of getting smaller.  Last year, Ernest took it home for Pizza Port San Clemente in ridiculous fashion.  While Wipeout remains our best selling beer, it rarely gets invited out of the first round and onto the next flight of tables.  We don’t care.  It’s brewed the way we want to drink it and most assuredly the way we always want to drink it.  Bottle smelled and tasted fantastic.  But again, one of the toughest category there is.  Not liking our chances here.

Mongo IPA – Category 51 American Style IPA
We’re guilty of entering a beer down here.  At just over 8.0% ABV Mongo is a true tweener.  It’s really not big enough to stand out in Double IPA land so we’ll take a stab here.  Love the body on this beer and the aroma is pretty spot on as well.  Mongo may not do well at GABF but don’t be surprised if the Alpha King Challenge finds a love for this our 2nd best selling beer.

Hop 15 – Category 52 American Style Double IPA
Every year we brew a batch of this mean beer and send it off to the judging table.  Some years it excels others not so much.  A 3 time medal winner at the GABF and multiple Podium dweller at Alpha King, Hop 15 is a awesome expression of what hops can do for you.  Bottles tasted great on Monday.  Not sure there won’t be 70+ beers in the category but we like the beer to do well.

This wraps up our beers on the Port Brewing side.  As the Abbey ones are a bit more distinctive, we’ll wait until tomorrow at around 1pm to release the tasting notes as to ensure that we don’t divulge too much about our beers and the categories they are in.

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