Yesterday, Wednesday the 28th of September, Paramount Café hosted the Paramount Café Beer Festival; a smaller albeit less expensive and more intimate alternative to the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Breweries in attendance included: Boulder Beer, Breckenridge Brewery, Crabtree Brewing Company, Funkwerks, Left Hand Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing Company, Oskar Blues Brewery, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Most breweries brought hard-to-find specialty beers which made the event well worth the $15 entry fee.
Unlike the massive GABF, this event allowed festival-goers to chit-chat with fellow attendees and brewery representatives alike without being jostled about by a crowd pushing its way to the serving table; the lines at Paramount Café were scarcely ever more than two deep. The exceptional beer selection made the event worth going to but the ability talk to fellow beer geeks without shouting or being in somebody’s way was what made attendees want to stay.
Highlights of the event:
- Crabtree’s cleverly named Cézanne Saison (named after the French artist) will be hitting shelves in the near future. It is orange-colored and it has a yeasty aroma. The flavor is somewhat tart and the mouthfeel is crisp and dry.
- Jeff Blackburn’s Motif was being served at the Funkwerks table. His beer is clear, honey-colored with a very light, flowery scent. It is a beer that goes down smooth except for a tiny burn in the back of the throat. One can almost detect a cherry-like aftertaste. Andy Mitchell, the rep at the Funkwerks table, was serving the beer he created, too. Mitchell’s saison beer is called Cochon which is French for “pig.” The inspiration for the name came as a result of the fact that Cochon is a very Americanized version of a beer that is traditionally brewed in the French-speaking region of Belgium. One can imagine a snooty Frenchman turning up his nose at the garishness of this hoppier, slightly more robust “American swill.”
- Oskar Blues was serving up two twists on perennial classics. One was Dale’s Pale Ale aged with cedar chips. This process gave Dale’s a minty, spruce-y character both on the nose and tongue. The other revision of a classic was Ten Fidy aged in Stranahan’s whiskey barrels with sour cherry added. This beer punches the drinker’s nose with a blast of whiskey and cherry aromas but, surprisingly, the flavors are much more subdued. The whiskey complements the beer rather than overwhelming it and the sour cherry pops its head up from time to time but, overall, it stays in the background.
- The New Belgium rep had a number of beers to try including Transatlantique Kriek, Clutch, and Kick. Transatlantique Kriek is ruby red and smells and tastes a bit like red wine. Clutch, named in honor of a Maryland rock band, is dark and slightly sour. Kick is a collaboration beer between New Belgium and Elysian Brewing Company. The name is derived from the combination of the names Dick Cantwell—CEO and founder of Elysian—and Kim Jordan—CEO and founder of New Belgium—who are, according to the New Belgium rep, currently dating. Thus, Dick + Kim = Kick.
- Sierra Nevada, in addition to serving up their classic pale ale, also had FOAM Pilsner—a beer that had never before been tapped outside of a Phish concert—and Yippie-Rye-Aye—a collaboration created with the help of Jared Pakele, Paramount Café’s bar manager.
For beer geeks with light pockets and no GABF ticket, events like these are fantastic. GABF starts today but beer geeks can still find smaller beer events throughout the city so long as they keep an eye open.