There is no shortage of annual beer events that are worthy of your time, attention and dollars. But, there are a few in that list that are truly bucket-list worthy for serious and curious beer drinkers. Among the top is the Denver Rare Beer Tasting.
It’s an intimate gathering held each autumn in Denver during, but not affiliated with, The Great American Beer Festival. DRBT is hosted by Pints for Prostates a “grassroots campaign designed to raise awareness about prostate cancer and the importance of early detection in fighting the disease.” All About Beer is once again honored to be the media sponsor of the event.
Every year the DRBT has a collection of some of the best beer in the country all under one roof. The rare part is emphasized. Samuel Adams brings special batches of its already special Utopias. The Lost Abbey picks great vintages of its beers to pour. Avery is known for bringing out barrels that are otherwise hard to find. Sierra Nevada always goes deep into the cellar for something unique.
Other breweries like Jester King, Primitive Beer, Reuben’s Brews, Ale Song Brewing and Blending, Other Half, and Weldwerks have all chosen truly unique offerings to pour.
It’s a mix of larger breweries and smaller ones, but all are united to bring great beers and often the brewers and owners are on hand pouring their beers, giving attendees a better chance to learn about the beers and to meet the artisans.
Check out the beer list here.
Tickets on Sale Now
This year’s DRBT will be held on September 22, 2023 at the McNichols Civic Center in Denver from Noon to 4p.m. There are 64 breweries that have committed to the event, and they are bringing their A game to the beer list.
There are still a few tickets available.
All-inclusive tickets are still available for the Denver Rare Beer Tasting 14er, which include four hours of beer sampling, the opportunity to meet the people who brewed them, buffet lunch, collectible tasting glass, t-shirt and program. Attendees will be entered in a drawing to win an amazing beer trip and get the chance to bid in an exciting silent auction that includes a variety of unique beer experiences and collectibles.
Pints for Prostates has also partnered with the Prostate Conditions Education Council on the screening event, which is open to the public. You do not need to have a Denver Rare Beer Tasting ticket to take part in the health screening, which is a simple five minute blood test. The free screening, a $700 value, is available to anyone born with a prostate, including men, transgender women and non-binary people assigned as male at birth.
As editor of All About Beer I’ve spent some time reading over the list over the last few weeks and I’ve been increasingly excited and thirsty. Admittedly, I think lists like this can be silly. If you’re going to the event (and you should) you should read the program in advance and get excited to curate your own experience, or just wander the floor and get pours of what looks or sounds interesting.
But for the purposes of this article here is my list of 10 Beers You Should Drink at the 2014 Denver Rare Beer Tasting. It’s a biased list for sure, but you won’t be disappointed.
10 Beers You Should Drink at the 2023 Denver Rare Beer Tasting
The Big Friendly
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oblique & Bent ABV 4.2%
Brewers description: Petite Saison. This 2022 GABF gold medal winner is dry, slightly funky, with a full and complex flavor.
Holl says: Brothers Joe Quinlin and Will Quinlin will be on hand pouring. I had a great conversation with them on the Drink Beer, Think Beer podcast following their win. Their passion and commitment to quality should be commended.
Bukwus ABV: 16%
Brewers description: Meet the Bukwus, the Wild Man of the Woods, who lives in the country of ghosts. He offers weary travelers a deceptive delectable feast that, when eaten, turns the person into a ghost who becomes part of the Bukwus’ entourage. Will you fall for the temptation of the Bukwus? Imperial Stout aged for 14 months on premium Kentucky Bourbon barrels. Made only once, producing just 91 cases.
Holl says: I don’t know anything about this brewery, but I love the description of this skull pouding stout and that the brewery is bringing a truly rare beer excites me. I expect this one to go quick.
Fox Farm Brewery
Triolet: Blend of One, Two, and Three Year Old Spontaneous Ale ABV: 6.5%
Brewers description: This is a three-year-blend. Inspired by lambic brewing traditions, each thread within the blend was made from the brewery’s untreated well water, a grist of 60% local barley malt and 40% unmalted locally-grown wheat, and whole leaf aged hops. Fermented and aged within a variety of oak formats (wine barrels, puncheons and large casks) the various components were blended for complexity and balance. This is 100% spontaneously fermented and a unique expression of the brewery’s place, people and environment. Fox Farm calls a former dairy barn on a 30-acre parcel home.
Holl says: Fox Farm is the best reason to visit Connecticut for beer. Em Sauter, the co-host of the All About Beer podcast will be pouring on the brewery’s behalf. So, you should stop by the table to say hello and tell her how much you enjoy the dynamic between her and Don Tse. Also, talk to her about art and check out pintsandpanels.com
Charlotte, North Carolina
SLURP Tsunami ABV: 9.2%
Brewers description: The SLURP series is an RnD project started 1.5 years ago and the acronym stands for Superior Lupulin Research Product. The series is used to base IPAs on a thiol driven flavor platform and utilize new hop products to accent the base beer without diluting the thiol presentation. This past year NoDa won bronze at the Great American Beer Festival in Experimental IPA with our hazy double IPA version, Big SLURP and months later launched our 6% version, Lil SLURP and it has become one of its best year round sellers. Recently NoDa launched a pilot version called SLURP Surfin’ which was a west coast iteration and it was a huge hit. This beer is the Imperial version of that beer and is hopped with exp 17701, Citra Incognito, Citra Lupomax, Mosaic Incognito and Strata hops. This batch is done as an RnD pilot run and only 4 barrels were produced.
Holl says: Speaking of the All About Beer podcast, Chad Henderson of NoDa Brewing is on a recent episode, talking about how he created and approaches Gordgeous, his award winning pumpkin ale. Plus, Henderson is a DRBT veteran and always brings something special to embrace the spirit of the event.
Twin Elephant Brewing
Chatham, New Jersey
Under the Running Board ABV: 13%
Brewers description: Bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout with toasted coconut and Guinean cacao nibs. First time single barrel collab release with the band Dillinger Escape Plan. Twin Elephant has minority women ownership.
Holl says: This is the brewery’s first DRBT appearance, and as one of two New Jersey breweries (make sure you stop over at Kane Brewing at Table 5 as well) it’s deserving of your time and attention.
Bourbon Barrel Fermented Grodziskie ABV: 3.3%
Brewers description: This Polish-style smoked wheat beer was fermented in freshly dumped Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. A grist consisting solely of oak smoked wheat contributes prominent smoke flavor and considerable body for such a small beer. A healthy dose of noble hops and high carbonation level cut through the smoke, keeping it light and refreshing. Barrel fermentation rounds out this unique brew with subtle notes of oak and vanilla. Only six oak barrels of this beer were produced, and you would be hard pressed to find this combination elsewhere.
Holl says: Polish Champagne! That there is only one Rauchbier on this year’s DRBT list means that the style has finally gone mainstream and as it’s available at every corner bodega and multiple taps at each brewery, creating a rare one is truly special. It’s not often that you’re getting a bourbon-barrel-aged beer at just above 3%, but when you do, you know it’s coming from Logan Ackerley, Wallenpaupack’s head brewer.
Smoked beer lovers unite by joining us at the This Week in Rauchbier Facebook page.
Weathered Souls Brewing
San Antonio, Texas
French Press – Prince Style ABV: 14.5%
Brewers description: This barrel-aged Imperial Stout is a member’s only off ering brewed with rare coffee produced by Longroad Coffee Company. A well balanced coffee stout with delicate flavors based on the method of processing the coffee in the beer. Lots of chocolate, caramel, and light vanilla notes from the coffee with a balance of bitter dark chocolate from the toasted nibs that finish with the oak and tannins from the barrel.
Holl says: I don’t belong to brewery bottle clubs, but often wish I did. DRBT is a chance to taste what those lucky folks who do have memberships get to drink at home. This is one of those beers, and given how Marcus Baskerville approaches barrels, we’re in for a treat.
Bow & Arrow Brewing
Sunbloom Saison ABV: 6.3%
Brewers description: Infused with Navajo sumac berries and orange peel. The sumac is sourced from the tribally-owned Navajo Agricultural Products Industry.
Holl says: I’m intrigued by these ingredients and to learn more about the sourcing. The description is indicative of truly local brewing, something I enjoy learning about and tasting.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Bière de Coupage ABV: 10%
Brewers description: Le Botaniste blended farmhouse ale comprised of a Saison aged one year in DFH Mellowdious Gin barrels blended with a mixed culture golden ale aged in French oak for 3 years.
Holl says: Dogfish head has been reveling and innovating in rare beer since its founding. This kind of sorcery is in its DNA. Not all of the beers work, but there’s always much to admire in the effort. This will have a lot going on in the glass, and I’m looking forward to the experience.
Oktoberfest ABV: 5.6%
Brewers description: A traditional marzen, this is a seasonal release. Brewed based on readily available ingredients, tradition and weather conditions, the rarity of a seasonal is part of the associated charm to be revered and celebrated. Bierstadt is a lager-only brewpub located in the RiNo district of Denver.
Holl says: This beer is rare in that it’s a seasonal offering. But, it’s a lager made by Bierstadt and Ashleigh Carter and Bill Eye are masters of the craft. After all the imperial stouts, the vanilla everything, these pours of Oktoberfest are going to taste even more magical. I will likely be living at this table.
Get Your Tickets Now
A quick search of flights from various points around the country and of hotel rooms in the city shockingly shows availability. If you were going to be spontaneous for a beer adventure, this is the time.
I’ll see you there, and obviously at Bierstadt Lagerhaus afterwards.