The Thrilling Adventures of Team Spröcket: Part II

Last week, we allowed one half of the winning team from our in-house brewing competition, QA Supervisor Rick Blankemeier (you may recognize him from his work on the Stone Stochasticity Project), to tell the first half of he and Team Spröcket partner Robbie Chandler‘s U.S. tour, during which they introduced their first place black rye Kölsch, Spröcketbier, to the masses. Follow along as Rick closes out his cross-country tale in style (and if you haven’t already tried he and Robbie’s amazing beer, find it and fix that immediately).

Stop #4: Coloradical

Denver is a fun city. Now, I’m extremely biased since I grew up in Aurora, just southeast of the Mile High City, and went to college at CU-Boulder (Go Buffs!). Despite all that, Denver really is a rad city with lots of activities to keep you entertained and full of delicious craft beer. My wife (and fellow member of Team Stone), Jessica, flew in early to visit friends so we could have a long weekend together in our old stomping grounds. She picked us up from the airport and drove us to our first unofficial event at Hops and Pie. Before that, we stopped by a liquor store to pick up bottles of Spröcketbier to hand out to all of our local friends. It was admittedly weird to buy a bottle of the beer that had my name on it and we definitely gave the checkout person something to talk about for a while. She checked our ID’s and noticed our names matched those on the bottle, then kind of freaked out a bit. Yes, this made us freak out (or maybe the more apt term is “geek out”) a bit, internally.

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Rolling Stones: The 2013 Great American Beer Festival

You’ve heard the legend of a cavernous hall filled to the brim with beer from around the country. Maybe you’ve even experienced for yourself the glories of unlimited pours of more than 3,100 brews. But you haven’t seen the Great American Beer Festival—the country’s largest annual suds celebration—from the perspective of Team Stone before…until now. We just got back from this massive and spectacular event, and are ready to give you a behind-the-scenes view of our GABF experience

The Great American Beer Festival Was Utterly Fantastic

Jacob McKean

Whew, well, the Great American Beer Festival is over, and now, just over a week after it ended, things are finally getting back to normal.

It’s hard to encapsulate just how much work goes into putting together the GABF.

The sheer enormity of America’s premier beer festival, which occupies a staggering 300,000 square foot portion of the Colorado Convention Center, requires a seemingly endless swarm of green shirted volunteers, along with hundreds of security guards, cleaners, and staff. All told, 49,000 beer fans attended this year, with tickets selling out faster than ever before (literally in days once they went on sale months earlier).

The feeling of walking into the GABF is incomparable. With excitement building for months in advance, the line to get in nearly a mile long, virtually half the crowd dressed in a variety of absurd costumes, and a gaggle of bagpipers in full Scottish regalia playing at an almost inconceivable volume, the buzz and excitement somehow manages to fill every corner of the cavernous room.

It was an incredible joy to meet so many Stone fans, many of who had very nice things to say to us as we poured countless 1 oz. tasters of our precious beer. And to see so many people wearing Stone t-shirts, hats, and the like was a disproportionate show of pride from our loyal legions.

Overall, the 2011 Great American Beer Festival was a characteristically rewarding and tiring experience. Stone Colorado Regional Sales Representative Chris Cantrell put countless hours into planning Stone’s presence at the festival and lined up a series of tremendous events at some of the fantastic craft beer establishments that have cropped up around Denver in recent years.

Stone CEO & Co-Founder Greg Koch was out and about with characteristic verve, signing copies of our book, “The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.” with co-author Randy Clemens and posing for a seemingly endless series of photos with fans.

Several other members of Team Stone, including yours truly, made their presence felt, either by helping with booth set-up, pouring beer, or appearing in a rigged and preposterous quiz game against Durango, Colorado’s venerable Ska Brewing Co. (who were the victors of said game; we’re contesting the results and demanding a rematch).

All in all, it was a tremendously good time and an unparalleled opportunity to try an epic assortment of incredible craft beers; which is, of course, the point of the whole exercise.

In fact, the tidal wave of extremely high quality offerings at the festival can only lead this beer lover to a larger conclusion: that now is, undoubtedly, the best time & place in history to drink beer…and you don’t even have to be at the GABF to do that!