Contrary to popular belief, attending the Great American Beer Festival is not just all about drinking phenomenal craft beer and celebrating the growing beer culture across our country. 

OK, fine. I lied. That is really what it’s all about.  

But drinking fantastic craft beer for an important charitable cause… now that’s something anyone can get behind.  

Friday afternoon at the GABF I was able to attend the Denver Rare Beer Tasting at the Wynkoop Brewery nestled in Denver’s LoDo district, an event benefiting the Pints for Prostates campaign. Sponsored by All About Beer and BeerAdvocate.com, proceeds from the 450 tickets sold went to help support education and advocacy efforts to promote screenings for prostate cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer in men in this country.

Wynkoop is the city’s first brewpub, founded in 1988 by Denver’s current mayor, John Hickenlooper. And what a cool place for the event…ornately decorated wood décor and furnishings throughout, large timber pillars and pressed tin ceilings dating back to the mid to late 1800s when the building was used as a mercantile exchange for miners and pioneers settling the western frontier. The entire upper level was packed with people clamoring to get a few sips of some incredibly rare beers, including:

  • Alaskan Smoked Porter 1999 & 2008
  • Allagash Fluxus 2009 
  • Bison Reunion ’09 — A Beer for Hope Double White Ale 
  • Samuel Adams Utopias 2009 
  • Brooklyn Wild 1 
  • Deschutes Double Black Butte Porter XX 
  • Dogfish Head Raison D’Extra 2006 
  • Foothills 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Aged Total Eclipse Stout 
  • Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine 2008 
  • Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Glacier Harvest ’09 Wet Hop Ale 
  • Highland Big Butte Smoked Porter 
  • Jolly Pumpkin Biere de Mars Grand Reserve 2006 & 2007 
  • Lost Abbey The Angel’s Share 2009 Brandy Barrel Finish 
  • Mich Brett 
  • New Belgium Trip II 
  • New Glarus Golden Ale 
  • Odell Crimson Shenanigans 
  • Oskar Blues Wet & Whiskeyed Gordon
  • Rogue Ales John John Hazelnut 
  • Saranac Imperial IPA 
  • Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Scotch Ale 
  • Stoudt Old Abominable Barleywine 2007 
  • Stone 2008 Old Guardian Barley Wine Aged in Red Wine Barrels
  • Wynkoop Barrel Aged Berserker Mead

We arrived toward the tail end of the event, so unfortunately much of the selection had already poured out. But I was able to get my hands on a few notables, including Foothills 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Aged Total Eclipse Stout, probably the most intense bourbon-style stout I’ve ever had (think Goose Island BCS on steroids), as well as Avery Voltron, an intensely puckering wild ale. I also tried the Lost Abbey Angel’s Share, and New Belgium Trip II, both incredibly solid.

Probably the most interesting beer of the night was Michelob Brett, what I’d consider to be the rarest beer of the lot considering there was only a single experimental barrel in the entire country developed by brewmaster Adam Goodson. According to Adam, they fermented in primary with their standard lager strain, then dosed the beer with brett and conditioned for many months to give it its distinctive leather, barnyard characteristics. A seriously good beer, and much more balanced and smooth in its brett quality than most other beers I’ve had of this variety.