GABF: Cigars and Psychedelia

Pre-GABF at Cheeky Monky event with 100 beers fan Dave Schuster. Yes that's Sam on my shirt, made for the Stone/Victory/Dogfish Head Saison du Buff release!

My first day at the Great American Beer Festival (shortened to GABF by beer folks) was nothing short of overwhelming. It’s like walking into Costco for the first time and realizing it’s sample day. Say what? You mean I can have as many of these as my body can handle?

I am a girl on a mission and one who obviously loves a challenge, so I take my fantastically shoed self off to my first booth. (Yes, I had men come up to me all weekend and complement my shoes. Dirty old men, shoe fetishists, or appreciators of good fashion? Hmmm, one wonders.)


Cigar City  Brewing Jai Alai IPA, 7.5% ABV: Cigar City’s most famous and sought-after beer! Definite tobacco notes on the nose and palate. They even have tobacco leaves on the table. Nice touch. Citrus fruits of grapefruit and orange mingle with stone fruits of peach and apricot. Sweet caramel notes, and ohhh yes. I smell Simcoe! Piney, resiny hop love. (They use Simcoe in dry-hopping) On the palate, all of those wonderful aromas blend seamlessly, yet powerfully. This is a serious IPA. A must try for hopheads! Rated 96 on RateBeer and A on Beer Advocate.

Named as an homage to the cigar production and rollers of past days, Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida is quickly becoming a buzz brewery on the lips of many beer lovers. This small star has a 15 barrel production of 11 beers. Despite their humble size, they are making a definite stamp on the the world of craft beer.

Other Cigar City favorites of GABF? Guava Grove, a Belgian-style Saison, and Final Push, a delicious blend of coffee with their Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout.

It’s back to Cali now!


My pic for their label. With some herb graphics. Psychedelic art by Brandon Haffner.

Marin Brewing E.S.G., 5% ABV: Marin’s brand new beer, this guy is so fresh you can’t find ANYTHING on it yet on the internet. So I consider myself pretty lucky. And once I heard it had something to do with Jerry Garcia, this deadhead was sold. (Yes, I once followed the Grateful Dead, ate veggie burritos, burned Nag Champa, and was an all-out hippie. You should SEE the pictures.)

An English E.S.B., Marin’s version is brewed with Chinese medicinal herbs, a “Chi-tonic blend.” Made in collaboration with Dr. Chung, who toured with the Dead and was Jerry Garcia’s personal acupuncturist and herbalist. Pending label approval, bottles should be released soon.

I had the pleasure of talking with Arne Johnson, Brewmaster, and asked if the label would be a nod to that collaboration. Psychedelic colors? He chuckled and said probably not, but it will show its roots.

Nice, easy drinking beer with notes of ginger, ginseng, dried bark, wood, licorice, and honey. A sweetness mingled with an earthiness and herbal quality on the palate. Balanced. The great thing about this beer? The herbs are meant to soothe your stomach and speed your metabolism. Something all of us beer drinkers need! Arne’s quote, “The more you drink the more you shrink!”

1989 was a magic year for opening breweries. Marin Brewing was opened in April of ’89 in Larkspur, California by founder Brendan Moylan. Recognize the last name? That’s because he also began Moylan’s Brewing in 1995, which will also be reviewed this month. My first experience was with Marin’s San Quentin Breakout Stout during my 100 Stouts and Porters in 30 days challenge last November. In fact, it was my final beer, #100! CLICK HERE to read that happy review.(and see an AWESOME video.)

Until next time,



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