Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

GABF 25th Year Beer | Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
86 Reviews
no score
Send samples
GABF 25th Year BeerGABF 25th Year Beer

Brewed by:
Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
Colorado, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
An ESB (as stated by the brewery) brewed by Charlie Papazian at Boulder Beer to celebrate 25 years of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

Added by TastyTaste on 08-26-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 86 | Ratings: 91
Photo of shuriyukum
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is a light brown color with an effervescent head that diminishes after a couple of seconds, yet retains a small off-white head with a bit of lace on the glass.

S: Their is a distinct hop aroma (e.g.- American hop variety) with citrusy overtones, yet balanced with a distinct malt aroma in the background.

T: The flavor is quite robust with smooth, sweet, roasty intro that leads with a nice, bitter finish. I would consider this an 'American' ESB due to the full flavors. It is certainly appropriate as a 'big beer'.

M: Smooth, crisp, with a medium body. The flavors are well-balanced and is pleasant to the palate.

D: While ABV is higher than your 'session beer', it goes down smooth, easy, and crisp. More than one could easily be had without 'growing old', but try that at home! :)

 808 characters

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.98/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - a bubbly, bouncy pour yields about two fingers of eggshell foam. The beer has a haze to it, a clouded, almost milky tangerine color. Craggy lacing around the glass.

Aroma - a light but resilient hop nose, pine and orange mostly. Simple but good.

Taste - without knowing the style, I'd say this is an enjoyable APA style beer. As an ESB I would expect some English style flavor, some of the butteryness, diacetyl, etc, there is none of that. Malt presence is more of a feel than a flavor, though a burger accompaniment does bring out some graininess. For the most part this is a nicely done hop show. Fruity and piny at first, taking a decidedly grapefruit turn on the swallow and aftertaste. A dry hoppy finish, again, well done for as APA but for an ESB I think it misses a bit.

Mouthfeel - smooth out of the gate, refreshingly crisp.

Drinkability - a great brew comemmorating a great event, I should've picked up a few more of these.

 960 characters

Photo of JMD71
3.97/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ap: Slightly hazy, orangey gold color with tight head which receds after moments in the glass. Good lacing evident as the glass is emptied. Carbonation appeared slow.

Ar: Malty nose with huge hop bouquet. Slightly sweet at first but the citrusy hops are evident.

Ta: Sweet tangeries with nice hop balance. Fruity. Hops perfectly in balance with the malt bill. Almost a sligh mandarin orange flavor.

Mo: Light to medium bodied. Crisp & refreshing. Leaves palette very clean. I was expecting it to be fuller bodied, but the lighter body was welcomed!

Dr: Very easy drinking. Went down easily. The lighter body enhances its drinkability.

Comments: I really looked forward to this Boulder (& Charlie P!)offering & it lived up to its hype. A delicious beer. Very well crafted all around. Perfect balance without the huge bitterness.

 842 characters

Photo of bigdeuce
4.02/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This was pretty damn good. Almost a cross between Hopback Amber for Troegs and a less hoppy version of Brutal Bitter from Rogue. Nice head, disappated quickly but left some sticky lacing. Nice smell with some cascade hops, perhaps, smooth and crisp taste with some tangy, hoppy, fruit on the backend with decent bitterness. Wish I had more than one.

 349 characters

Photo of RedChrome
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A slightly cloudy medium orange colored beer. Half inch white head broke down quickly. Average amount of carbonation rising rapidly. Spotty bits of small lacing.

Quite an interesting aroma. The strength was a tad on the weaker side. The main scent was earthy with a closest resemblance to marijuana. A very bitter aroma.

Bitter taste starts with quick hit of the saaz hops before developing a more even grassy taste. A light plastic taste develops at the very end leaving just a hint in the aftertaste.

Big burst of carbonation tingling on the tongue. Flavors shift in an average thickness.

A decent brew to celebrate the GABF. This would be great with a venison steak. Worth picking up and trying this one time release. If you see it and haven't had it yet add it to your cart.

 792 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.1/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a cloudy orange color with a thin off-white head that fades at a decent rate and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is very heavy with grassy hops. There’s a slight touch of citrus sweetness along with a distinct malt background.

T: The flavor is malty with a heavy hops character. Flavors of caramel and smoke start out, then the hops out and provide the “B” in ESB. This one is hoppy for the style, so I can see how it could be mistaken for an IPA. There’s a very mild flavor of sweetness. The after-taste is full of hops and smoky malt.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, clean and dry finish.

D: Tasty, easy to drink, slightly filling, I haven’t had too many ESB’s but this one is definitely the best that I’ve had in the style.

 856 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brilliant kumquat with a sparse cloud of fine yeast. The jaundiced ivory cap is a nice color match for the beer and looks pretty good besides. It appears as if it'll be around for the long haul, as does the attactive array of sticky lace. GABF 25th looks exactly like an IPA. But then ESBs and IPAs are close cousins, so why wouldn't it?

The nose is just hoppy enough to get on my good side. Boulder will only reveal the identity of the hops used for dry-hopping (Saaz), not the hops used for flavor and bittering. It's obvious from one sniff that they've used some combination of American-grown varieties. Pineapple and mango are least at least as prominent as orange and grapefruit. I'll guess Simcoe and/or Amarillo, in addition to one or more of the 'C' hops.

I'm a little disappointed when it comes to the drinking; mostly because I detect a wee lack of malt, which translates into a lighter than expected mouthfeel and a shortage of flavor linger. A 7.6% Anniversary beer should be bigger and more full than this, I believe, even it's a member of a style that isn't usually known for bigness.

Barely toasted pale malt holds down the bottom end; there's no caramel that I can detect. The still tropical fruity hops are the focal point, as they should be in an ESB, but they fail to get the mouth party hoppin'. This beer isn't that old (five months?). Perhaps the hoppiness has taken a small hit since bottling. Adding more hops on the front end is the obvious solution.

As noted, the mouthfeel could be bigger. While it's acceptable for the style, some amount of chewiness would have helped in any number of ways. Drinkablility benefits, though, as evidenced by the fact that my glass always seems to be empty and the bottle is becoming rapidly lighter.

The Great American Beer Festival 25th Year Beer (to use the full name) is an ESB that is a few tweaks short of very good. As is so often the case, I recommend more malt and a lot more hops. If you have a bottle, be sure to drink it fairly soon. The hops are fading into the sunset as we speak.

 2,068 characters

Photo of brewandbbq
4.03/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, light copper color, with an off-white head.
The frothy foam worked up to an inch upon pouring, without any encouragement.
Above average lacework remained throughout the glass, with rings, streaks, and dots of whipped bubbles.
Aromatics are hoppy with a mild malt component, and plenty of fruit. Peaches, fresh mown grass, pears, and tangerines.
Enough hop character to be pungent.
Mouthfeel is medium and crisp. The carbonation level scrubs the pallet clean.
The pallet is more hops and an increased malt level, with some mild toasted malts coming through.
Bitterness is full and firm, and this beer is delivering more like an IPA.
Quite fruity and crisp, with a light, juicy malt character in the background. The alcohol has a somewhat building quality, but never gets hot.
Finishes bitter and crisp, with lingering citrus fruits and toasted malts.

 872 characters

Photo of brewcrew76
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle

A - Pours a hazy orange copper with a fluffy white head that clings to the glass and skims the surface as the beer is consumed.

S - Spicy floral hops with some pale malt and sweetness.

T - Bitter spicy hops upfront with some grapefruit. Some malt and bready flavors are present but this one is geared more towards the hops. There is a slight chalky taste present at times.

M - Medium bodied and well carbonated creating quite a few hop burps. Dry finish.

D - A drinkable hoppy style ESB.

 514 characters

Photo of aforbes10
3.6/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at City Wide in South Bend. Poured orange, slightly cloudy with a big puffy head. Piney hop odor, some orange rind. Taste is hoppy, malty and vaguely metallic. Some apricot tang. Vaguely citrusy. finish is mostly alcohol and hops. tasty, but a bit unbalanced. Kind of flat as well. Goes down easy though. I'd say its worth trying if you can find it.

 366 characters

Photo of Drew966
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great American Beer Festival 25th Year Beer pours a copper color with a very minimal head that just clings along the edge of the glass. Beautiful floral hop aroma is present. Sweet malt followed by strong hops, there is kind of an unpleasant metallic note though when too cold, let it warm up a bit.

 299 characters

Photo of aluskungs
4.18/5  rDev +13%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great, great smell. Like putting your face into a bin of hops and breathe... nice hoppy fresh sweetness, not harsh very flowery.

The beer in my glass is a hazy copper, maybe not filtered? Small head that disappears, a bit odd being that hops aid in head retention, maybe my glass is dirty.

Very drinkable beer that one can quaff down in no time flat. A big malt sweetness followed by bitterness to cleanse the palate and clear the taste bud runway for the next arrival of coppery goodness!

A good ESB that would be a good flagship beer for any brewery. A great example of style that any beer drinker would like.

 620 characters

Photo of bucko
3.3/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a slightly-hazy orange/copper color with a big, rocky off-white head that slowly dissipates into some rather significant lacing. The aroma is sweet and malty, slightly grainy with a strong spicy, floral hop presence. The flavor malty with notes of bread and biscuit and a punch of spicy, somewhat citrusy hops. Mouthfeel is nice - smooth and almost silky. Drinkable? Yes. Please! Overall this is an enjoyable beer, though not exactly what I expect when I hear ESB. Regardless, I'm enjoying this while it lasts.

 526 characters

Photo of simmons
3.2/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Apperance: A slightly hazy copper ale with a thin white head

Aroma: lots of malt is present followed by a earthy hop aroma

Taste: fairly sweet malt covered up by a bitter yet citrusy flavor. Good useage of hops but needs just alittle bit more malt to balance it out

Moutfeel: the carbonation in this brew is perfect, soft and smooth. as for balance I think it could use a little bit of work.

Drinkability: This is an ok ESB, not bad at all it just needs alittle bit more balance thats all.

 504 characters

Photo of 86sportster883
4.07/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The GABF 25th Year Beer is a really nice ESB with an ABV of 7.3%. But you won't find the high alcohol level noticable in the taste, as this beer strikes a really nice balance between the sweetness of the British Pale Malt and the melow bitterness of New Zealand hops. Dry hopped with Saaz hops, the beer has a nice floral nose that adds to the enjoyment of drinking this beer. But what I like most about this beer is how well balanced it seems.

I drank this beer in an IPA glass. It pours a slightly cloudy golden honey color with a good sized head that dissapears, relatively quickly, into a thin white film. The nose is sweet, floral and almost fruity. It has a low, fizzy carbonation and a slightly thin mouthfeel. It starts almost mildly sweet but definitely finishes with a modest dose of hop bitterness.

I tend to like IPAs and other slightly bitter beers. Thus, I found the GABF 25th YB to be very drinkable with a nice warming sensation. A good beer to enjoy during a cold afternoon football game. Since there were only 100 barrels of this made, I would certainly recommend you try it before it's gone.

 1,118 characters

Photo of Imstillthegman
3.6/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rather clear orange color with a dense white head sitting on top. Nice amount of lacing remains.

Smell is sugary sweet and malty up front with a spicy, earthy, almost cedar hop scent overtaking the malts.

The flavors mix well, but stand out just the same. Caramel, honey, citrus, and pine.

Light, medium bodied brew with some bitterness and a dry, sticky aftertaste. Above average and easily drinkable. Not my favorite ESB, but a good example.

 460 characters

Photo of WanderingFool
3.62/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Having never been to the GABF (yet) I thought this beer may inspire me to get to Colorado for one of these fests. The beer pours a slightly hazy light copper color with a creamy white head on top. The foam dissolves quickly down to a ring around the beer leaving a few spots of lace clinging to the sides of the glass. A hoppy aroma of grapefruit citrus and pine hovers over the surface of the beer.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is slightly chewy and smooth. The flavor begins with some biscuit malt which is quickly dominated by citrus hop flavors of grapefruit and pine. Some apricot notes are mixed in as well. The beer finishes bitter and leaves behind some hoppy flavors when gone.

For an ESB it could use a bit more malt to balance out all the hops. If I didn't know any better I'd say this was an IPA. Very drinkable and tasty. Grab one to try while you can.

 878 characters

Photo of bigone4
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright hazy orange hue. No freshness date but a good explanation of why it was made and what to expect in the flavor. Although I did not really agree with the description. There was a nice fluffy white head that dissipated rather slowly. Nice lacing all the way down the pint. There are many different smells that come to mind. My first sniff gave me the impression of an IPA but then there were subtle malt tones mixed in. There was a smell of pale malt with a hint of a citrus hop undertone. Some type of a sweet caramel malt smell came to mind almost reminiscent of a marzen lager. Extremely smooth with a nice rolling hopped taste through out my mouth. Very drinkable and enjoyable.

There were many characteristics of a good IPA mixed in with the mild malted flavor of a lighter amber ale or alt bier. Nice balance from the start to finish. Refreshing dry hop aftertaste really creates a well developed finish. Interesting mix of malt and hops. It is certainly a well crafted brew having good smell and flavor characteristics. I would love to try this brew on tap. Good beer and I will certainly have it again.

 1,126 characters

Photo of sraimondi
3.56/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An interesting beer. As noted by others, not a real ESB. Pours a nice light auburn color with a 1 inch head which dissipates to about 1/4" by the time I'm done. Decent lacing. A little malt aroma. Taste is very laid back, with some bitterness in the finish. As I like soft beers, I really liked the mouthfeel. I have a feeling that this beer is over 6% ABV (??), but this is masked well, given the soft mouthfeel. Overall, while not an ESB, I like it and will probably have it again, if I can find it in NW Connecticut.

 519 characters

Photo of Dewey0603
4.15/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my second review and the first with this beer listed as an ESB.
This beer pours a clear yellow orange with a huge white foamy head. The color's OK,but the head leaves great lacing and lasts forever. The smell is "bisquity" with a large citrus hop aroma. A real strong aroma in this beer. The taste is creamy with a real mild hop presence. The slight bitterness makes this a clear crisp very drinkable beer. As far as ESB's go, this is one of the better ones.

 467 characters

Photo of plaid75
3.95/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a medium hazy copper hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and very good lacing.

The smell featured an upfront oily citrus and sweet hop and a solid soft malt.

The taste consisted of of an orangy sweet and mildly peppery hop balanced nicely by a soft biscuity malt.

The mouthfeel was a tad tin and a bit astringent. Dry finish.

Overall good drinkability. A few gaps in the mouthfeel, but overall very sessionable.

 459 characters

Photo of benito
2.27/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: The brew's best quality by far. Hazy orange with a nice head.

S: Light, really light hoppiness that fades into a big bouquet of nothingness.

T and M: Thin at best. There's an acrid, wheat taste near the beginning that is washed away by a little mid-palate hops and a cool, creamy finish. I'd rather that that flavor progression have been reversed, and I would have expected a more assertive hop presence throughout.

D: The thin body and flavor make this boring.

A commemorative brew that is in no way commensurate to the wonderful festival it honors. Skip this and just go to the GABF.

 600 characters

Photo of bruachan
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i guess this is a commemoration of something

it's a lightish copper color, but not awe inspiring. the head up top is okay, showing promise of some nice lacing, but seems to just be looking for an excuse to vanish into thin air. the fervent carbonation won't let it, however

the aroma is not particularly strong, but dominated by malt scents: toasty, biscuity (and dogfoody). it's sweet and has a tea-like hop character...floral and woody. the mouthfeel is a little prickly for an ESB

 489 characters

Photo of chilidog
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked up this "bargain" beer for also 1.99. One time only brew, special, ok..

It poured good enough with a golden amber, slight haze, egg-shell head that maintained an inch to lace fair.

The aroma was pine and citric grapefruit.

The taste was also citric hop and malts in the background.
Abit dry and tart round out this medium at best bodied brew.

Overall its drinkable, not as big a beer as I would of expected for a once only beer-fest offering. The abv isn't that high either.
I'll pick up accouple here and there, as suplies last. $1.99, Why not!!

 569 characters

Photo of HopasaurusRex
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Golden amber colored body topped by lasting foam stand.

Spicy nose of grapefruity Saaz. It's a bit light but discernible. Not much other perceptible hop aroma.

Medium-bodied English style pale ale/ESB. Good balance between fruity yeast and citric bitterness. Lingering finish of floral noble hops.

Overall, a bit thin for an ESB, but drank well for a Sunday afternoon of football watching.

Cheers to the 25th Anniversary of the GABF!

 446 characters

GABF 25th Year Beer from Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
3.7 out of 5 based on 91 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!