This year’s Great American Beer Festival was one for the record books – literally. The 33rd annual festival saw a 14 percent growth in brewery participation, resulting in more than 3,500 offerings and nearly 50,000 festivalgoers, according to the Brewers Association. That’s a lot of beer being poured. And while the Colorado Convention Center played an exceptional host to the 700+ breweries in attendance, it wasn’t long before I yearned for a quiet space to enjoy so many amazing craft brews.
Enter the Farm to Table Pavilion. Created to provide an opportunity to showcase how well craft beer pairs with food, ticket-holders sampled 28 pairings designed and prepared by 14 small and independent breweries and chefs from around the country. And unlike typical GABF interactions with volunteers and miscellaneous brewery employees, each pairing station was accompanied by at least one chef and one brewer. Lines were short, conversations were full and interesting, and the pairings were unreal.
Fort Collins saw its share of participation at the pavilion, represented by The Kitchen, Fort Collins Brewery, and Funkwerks. In fact, our neighbors stole the show with my favorite pairing, hands down: Funkwerks’ Oud Bruin barrel-aged sour with pan-roasted duck breast, Belgian waffle and maple puree, and mission fig verjus with smoked duck prosciutto prepared by chef Alex Seidel of Denver. It was worth the separate ticket price alone, and I may or may not have gone back for seconds and thirds.
Below, some stand outs in this incredible, show stealing event at GABF.Nebraska Brewing Company’s Barrel Aged HopAnomaly paired with porchetta slider, pesto & pickled vegetables