“Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, that is truly what I wish that I could be …”
None of us could remember the next line, so we mumbled our way through it and took another sip of beer. We were, after all, standing next to the wienermobile, in all its ground up meat-like substance glory. (We’d stopped by the iconic vehicle in hopes of picking up a hot dog but, alas, it was just there for show. No wieners for us.)
Somehow, surrounded by hundreds of breweries and thousands of beers, my longtime friends and I still managed to find a way to have a good time during the Saturday night session of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
For those who don’t know, Denver’s GABF, if you look at it in terms of comicons, is equal to the San Diego event. It’s the pinnacle, if you will. There are plenty of brewfests in this great big beautiful world of ours, but this is so much more than a few breweries getting together to raise money for the local high school band. (Don’t get me wrong. I love those, too.)
In the main hall of the Denver Convention Center, breweries are split by region, so we were able to travel the country while never leaving the room. Four and a half hours of beer-drinking bliss. Peanut butter porters. Chocolate stouts. Double hazy IPAs. Dark lagers. Pilsners. Blondes. Ambers. Oktoberfests …. Yum.
We started in California, worked our way through the mountains, hit the southeast and northeast, and spent plenty of time in the “meet the brewers” section talking wart and hops and mash and IBUs with the professionals. Like proper beer snobs.
Then we found a big sign that said “Jameson.” Needless to say, our curiosity was piqued. Off we went to find not only a couple more friends we didn’t know would be there, but also a cornucopia of barrel-aged brews just waiting to be inhaled, er, enjoyed. Of course, it was one of the few places in the whole joint blasting dance music (not my thing) but still totally worth it.
One buddy found a bus taking happy drunk people back and forth from Longmont to the event, so no laws were broken in during the research of this column. And as awesome as the event was, standing around singing the Oscar Mayer wiener song with friends may have been better than all the beers combined.
It’s the part I’ll remember most, anyway.
Ross Maak is the editorial coordinator of the Colorado Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.