As usual, I had a wonderful time at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. Also as usual, I met some great people and drank some fantastic beer. You can see some photos from the day here. I had the pleasure of pouring beer for BlueTarp Brewing Co. out of Decatur, Georgia. Owner/brewer Tom Stahl and his wife were great to work with and showed real passion for the brew. Open just 10 months, the quality of the beer was excellent. The kitschilly titled “Mother Hoppin’ Double IPA”, which was kitschilly defined as “anti-sessionable in nature”, was among the best I’ve ever had. That’s saying a lot for a brewery that’s been open 10 years, let alone 10 months! Great people and a great product is what’s required for long-term success, and these guys are on the right track. Although I was perfectly happy to stay right where I was and sip on Tom’s beers, I ventured out into the sea of beer drinkers several times throughout the day to see what other fine beer was available. Kudos go to Avery Brewing Co. for serving my favorite brew of the day, “Uncle Jacob’s Stout”. A massive Bourbon Barrel Stout clocking in at almost 18% alcohol, I’ve not been able to get it out of my mind ever since. My goal is to find this beer and buy as much as I possibly can. I can only imagine what a few years of aging will do, and I plan on finding out! Sadly, and at no fault of their own, my least favorite taste of the day was of a beer by Stone Brewing Co. You read right. Stone Brewing Co. “Reason Be Damned”, a Belgian Style Abbey Ale aged in Red Wine Barrels, for me had picked up too much red wine in the aging. With the first sip I was transported to an ill-fated evening that started with several bottles of beer and ended with a single glass of red wine. I’ll spare you the details, but needless to say I don’t plan on reliving that evening, or this beer, ever again. Great people. Great beer. Not-so-great beer. It’s all part of the experience, and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!