© Christian DeBenedetti
Brian Simpson of New Belgium Brewing Co., in Fort Collins, Colorado, pulls a sample of unblended Felmish-style sour red ale.

An estimated 49,000 craft-beer lovers descended upon Denver last week for the 28th Annual Great American Beer Festival, where they had the opportunity to taste some 2,100 beers in 78 styles from 457 American breweries. Writer Christian DeBenedetti, who recently covered the craft-beer scene in San Diego for F&W, was on the scene.” Here, he shares highlights and a few interesting trends:

“Brett” beers, named for Brettanomyces (bacteria that impart powerful, earthy flavors considered flaws in wine but boons in certain beers), are quickly gaining ground. Standouts at the festival included Odell’s Brett Barrel Brown and New Belgium’s Le Fleur Misseur. Brewers were also collaborating on pairings: Deschutes Brewery’s The Dissident, a sour Flanders brown beer, was amazing with a confit of pork with sage and macerated peaches. Perhaps most surprising was the growing popularity of sour beer styles, which are usually tricky to produce. These beers, such as Berliner weisse, Flanders red and brown ales, lambic and geuze, tend to be an acquired taste due to their acidity. Click here for a list of the festival's award-winners.