Roughly 800 breweries, nearly 4,000 brews, and 96 competition categories — the Great American Beer Festival throws a lot of beer your way. This is a good thing of course. You want to try it all. But after you take off the pale ale-colored glasses, you have to face the fact that you won’t sample it all in just three days. While everyone has their own beer preferences and some will enjoy certain beers more than others, there are a few standouts that demand a place on your sampling chart
We’re here to provide you with a list of beers to try at the Great American Beer Festival 2017. So while you may never try them all, you’ll know you tried some of the best of them.
1. “Stick’s Pale Ale” by Bootstrap Brewing Company
Last year, this brewery out of Niwot, Colorado took the top prize in the American-Style Pale Ale category. The brewery describes Stick’s as a beer you “can drink all day long on horseback or rafting” and its string of gold medals at beer competitions across the U.S. point to it being a top pick for a relaxed day drinking choice.
2. “Solid Gold” Belgian Blonde by Cannonball Creek Brewing Company
Solid Gold fittingly claimed the gold medal in the Belgian-Style Blonde category last year and is making another appearance in 2017. A hint of lemon, subtle spices, and a crisp finish seems to be a winning formula for Solid Gold.
3. “Allagash Tripel” by Allagash Brewing Company
Another gold medal-winning Belgian deserves a place on our list. Allagash won the hearts of tripel-lovers at the GABF in 2016 and Maine-based Allagash Brewing Company is looking to uphold its reputation. Flavors of passion fruit, honey, and varied herbs make this a strong option for attendees looking for complex taste.
4. “Pliny the Elder” Double India Pale Ale by Russian River Brewing Company
Somewhat of a legend in the craft beer world, Pliny the Elder is a must-taste at the GABF. Expect a long line for trying this brew named for the ancient Roman who came up with the first botanical name for hops (Lupus Salictarius, in case you were wondering). Legendary in name and in flavor, Pliny is worth the wait.
5. “Birds in Paradise” Sour Barrel-Aged Beer by The Rare Barrel Beer Company
Rare Barrel was a newcomer that made some serious waves last year. Birds in Paradise is a sour beer with hints of pineapple and coconut flavors that give it a tropical feel. With positive reviews from last year giving Rare Barrel some momentum, expect them to earn even more attention this year.
6. “Mass Riot” IPA by Prison City Brewing
For the IPA fans out there, Mass Riot shouldn’t be skipped. Paste Magazine ranked it number one out of 247 domestic craft IPA’s in a blind test in 2016. We think that makes it worth a sample or two.
7. “Lighter Than I Look” American Style Amber Lager by Figueroa Mountain Brewing
One of the most popular dark lagers at 2016’s GABF, we recommend Lighter Than I Look for those looking for a richer, creamier taste that just can’t be found at the other testing stands. Figueroa Brewing Company is only seven years old, but the young crew picked up four medals at last year’s GABF. Sounds like they’re on to something good.
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