Maria and I were able to attend our first Great Nebraska Beerfest and we were definitely glad we could make it. Not only did it allow us to hang out with our friends from Nebraska Brewing Company, who organized the event, but we were also able to try some really good beers from breweries we hadn’t visited yet. The GNBF boasted an incredible line-up of largely midwest breweries including Avery, Great Divide, ODell, Ska, and Tallgrass. The event is in it’s third year and I would consider this iteration to be a great success. Last year the event drew about 700 people, this year the attendance neared 2,000. Here are some of the highlights:
- The VIP event the night before: Nebraska Brewing Company threw a nice shindig the night before the fest for brewers, bloggers, and beer lovers. The ever present Omaha home brewers were pouring some experimental brews that went great with the bar-b-q buffet. We met a bunch of great beer people including Stephen Johnson from New Brew Thursday and Chris Spradley from SoCal Beer Company and pretty much geeked out talking about beer. Check out New Brew Thursday’s video about Stephen’s time at the beer fest. He gives a shout out to us “gypsies” over here at the Roaming Pint in which we assured him, he can come roam with us anytime.
- Selection: There were over 190 beers from 32 breweries and 2 home brewers organizations. A lot of breweries brought their brewers, staff, and owners to pour and share knowledge which is nice when you want to ask more about the beer you are tasting.
- Free State Brewing: As you may know Free State is our hometown brewery and the place where we developed our early taste for craft beer. This is the first time Free State had been able to attend a beer fest in Nebraska and they definitely did not disappoint. I constantly overheard attendees fawning over the Free State flagships as well as the special brews they brought, including one of Maria’s favorites, Santa’s Helper aged for about 2 years (I think). We were extremely happy to have a taste of home while on the road.
- Seminars – This is one of the few beer fests I’ve attended where they had set up educational seminars with the brewers. Jeremy Danner from Boulevard brewing talked about beer and food pairings, Chad Yakobson from the Crooked Stave discussed sour and brett beers, and Jeff Gill of Tallgrass Brewery discussed canning beers. It was a great way to get out of the sun and learn from the pros.
- Special Releases – There were a bunch of special small batch brews that were released almost every half hour from the various breweries. A couple include Nebraska Brewing Company’s barrel aged Hop God, Goose Island’s Night Stalker stout, and a Pure Guava Petite Sour from Crooked Stave.
- Sour beers / Bret: On the topic of special releases it seemed like there were a ton of sour and wild yeast beers at the event. I feel like they have hit hip status lately and personally I don’t mind as I have begun to develop quite a taste for them. Nebraska Brewing Co’s Doorstop brown and Boulevard’s Love Child No. 2 were a couple of the standout sours I had.
This event also marked the first time The Roaming Pint was able to sponsor an event. It turned out that the event needed some sound equipment for the seminar tent and Maria just happened to have her DJ equipment in Omaha from a wedding she had done in May. It may be a small thing, but we felt like we helped the GNBF be a little more awesome with our contribution.