The 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO descends upon us this week. As Team Full Pint heads out to the Rockies to bring you another year of in-depth coverage and live-tweeting at the awards ceremony, we wanted to pull together a hit list for you of some can’t-miss breweries we’re eager to see this week. Keep in mind that this year’s festival will feature the most breweries ever, so we’re bound to miss many of your favorites. Since we are also a California-heavy publications, you won’t see many of our tried and true favorites on this list. Instead, we kept it to a few folks who may not have hit your radar just yet. It’s pretty obvious that you need to see the likes of Beachwood Brewing, Societe, The Bruery, and Stone — and of course Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, Firestone Walker, and Russian River. So don’t get fussy that you don’t see them on here. Don’t see your favorite brewery on the list? Leave it in the comments below!
Austin Beer Works (Austin, TX) – K3: While many festival-goers will be mourning the fact that Jester King will not be at the festival with their wild and funky brews (which you can taste at the also absent Crooked Stave’s What the Funk? Event on Wednesday, 9/23), you can still dive into Austin Beer Works’ totally crushable lineup of clean and classic brews. They first caught our attention with their throwback can design and clever 99-pack marketing tactics, but after our first sips of their Black Thunder schwarzbier and Pearl-Snap pils, they definitely gave us more of a reason to book our next trip to Texas.
Bagby Beer Company (Oceanside, CA) – S10: While everyone in southern California couldn’t wait to see last year’s unveiling of Bagby Beer Company, many folks from outside our Cali bubble weren’t as familiar with the multi award-winning brewer who has developed a devout following from his days as head brewer and Director of Brewing Operations for Pizza Port. He’s had a consistent track record with GABF – even nabbing a medal right out the bat in 2014 for his Irish-Style Dry Stout.
Boneyard Beer Company (Bend, OR) – I8: Boneyard’s been a Bend, OR favorite for their solid lineup that spans from hoppy west-coast IPAs to rich imperial stouts. With so many stellar Oregon brewers out there, we felt like we needed to remind you to stop by their booth to give them a try.
Brasserie Saint James (Reno NV) – K17: People really started to take notice of this Reno, NV brewpub after they won Best Mid-Size Brewpub & Brewers in America at last year’s fest. We first encountered them a few years ago when seeking out a great meal while at Canfest, but returned after getting a taste of some pretty true-to-style classics. For those who care, they have access to some impeccable water in their parts which makes (to us) a noticeable difference in their flagship kolsch.
Cellarmaker Brewing (San Francisco, CA) – S26: Long story short, Cellarmaker is making some of the best beer in California right now out of their modest San Francisco brewery. They’ve been cranking out quality all across the board which is why us SoCal dwellers flock to any of the rare events where their kegs make it down our way.
Funkwerks (Fort Collins, CO) – W24: Colorado is blessed with many a great brewery. You’ve got all the standards here from Avery to New Belgium, Odell to Oskar Blues – but we have to give some love to the folks at Funkwerks. Their team focuses on Belgian-styles; producing some very beautiful saisons.
Lawson’s Finest Liquids (Warren, VT) – N12: We feel dirty even reminding you to see Lawson’s because we want it all for ourselves. For the beer geek, you already know why they’re on the list. For the newbie, just trust us. For the asshole, we know it’s not Heady Topper, but they make delicious things so get over it.
MacLeod Ale Brewing Company (Van Nuys, CA) – T33: Giving some love to our locals at MacLeod who are daring enough to specialize in cask-conditioned and English-style ales. Seriously. That crazy fella Andy Black is making real ale and low-abv styles…in southern California! Swing by for a tasty and refreshing breather in between those heavier brews.
Marble Brewery (Albuquerque, NM) – L4: New Mexico’s got some quality brews coming out of that state and with fan favorites like Santa Fe Brewing and La Cumbre also on deck for this year’s fest, we want you to add ABQ’s Marble on the list as well.
Noble Ale Works (Anaheim, CA) U13: This one’s another recommendation close to home for us. Evan Price and the Noble Ale Works crew are easily one of the best in the Golden State, but again, due to limited distribution, many outside of our world have yet to indulge in their impeccable lineup ranging from stellar single-hop showcases (Shower Beer Series), the most delicious golden milk stout with coffee ever, and some of their more traditional offerings with a west coast bend.
For the sake of brevity, here are a few more no-brainers – Wicked Weed (all three booths), Upland Brewing, Sun King, Surly, Rhinegeist, Pfriem, and our lovely friends at Three Weavers. Who do you have your money on? Tell us below!