The Great American Beer Festival returns to the Centennial State this weekend, kicking off Thursday at the Colorado Convention Center.
For the second year in a row, the popular event hasn’t sold out, so there’s a change you can still attend.
To help navigate the boozy halls with more than 60,000 other beer lovers, The Colorado Sun politics and beer reporter John Frank wrote a how-to. He’s also the author of “Beer Lover’s Colorado,” a guide to drinking the best brews across the state.
Whet your appetite for the beer festival with Frank’s recommendations for three bizarre-flavored ales from Colorado brewers.
Hot Sauce Barrel Aged Taco Gose – WeldWerks Brewing (Greeley)
Gose, a German sour wheat beer, is typically known for being tart, light and very drinkable.
Greeley’s WeldWeks Brewing throws a wrench in that flavor profile with this beer. An umami wrench.
“It just straight tastes like meat. It is fascinating. It tastes like taco meat,” Frank said.
WeldWerks brewers achieve the flavor by adding taco seasoning to the beer. So if your taste buds have fond memories of the El Paso seasoning packets from your childhood taco nights, you may be a fan.
The taco beer also comes in a barrel-aged edition, but it’s not aged in beer barrels. Nope, WeldWerks takes it a step further and ages their meaty brew in hot sauce barrels. The result is unsurprisingly spicy.
Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout – Wynkoop Brewing (Denver)
Yes, another meaty take on a classic beer variety.
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s former brewery crafts this drink by frying Rocky Mountain oysters and throwing them into the beer. The savoriness and salt of the oysters cut the sweetness of the stout, without adding an … earthy flavor.
“Thankfully though, it doesn’t taste like bull’s testicles,” Frank said.
That makes the beer more gimmick than actual palate-tester, he said. That eye-catching brewing strategy is increasingly common — like incorporating seltzers, kombucha and CBD.
“A lot of craft beers are like that. There’s just a lot of innovation, experimentation and craziness to it that makes it a lot of fun,” Frank said.
“It actually started as an April Fool’s joke,” Sims said. “It’s pretty popular.”
Ghost Face Killah Chili Beer – Twisted Pine Brewing Company (Boulder)
Named for a Wu-Tang Clan member and brewed with ghost peppers, this beer is undeniably unique.
Twisted Pine brewers developed the Ghost Face Killah chili beer after a festival attendee suggested they make a hotter version of their previous spicy brew, Billy’s Chilies.
Frank describes the beer in his book as “a rite of passage” more than an enjoyable drink. Judging by the number of YouTube videos centered on grown men trying the brew and breaking down not long after, he appears to be right.