A pilgrimage occurs each autumn. Beer makers and beer lovers collide for one spectacular event. The Great American Beer Festival is the mecca of all things craft beer. The event, held in Denver, Colorado, boasts the largest craft beer gathering in the United States and is fun for everyone, even if you do not like beer.
I fall into that category. Try as I might, I have never acquired the taste for beer. It is not for a lack in trying. I mean, come on, I think it might be a lost cause if I cannot find a beer I enjoy at the GABF for Heaven’s sake!
The history of the event is a short one. The GABF began in 1982 by the Brewers Association. The event became unbelievably popular and important to the craft beer movement in America during its twenty-something short years of existence.
Stall after stall of kegs, cups and craft brewers line the gigantic room in the Colorado Convention Center (yes! the event is that big). The Brewers Association ingeniously organizes the brewers according to their geographic location. For example, you can sample beer from Florida craft brewers by circulating the “Southeast Region.” This way, you can have a plan of attack for your tasting adventures. With hundreds of breweries and thousands of brews to try, it is no wonder that some guests attend all three days of the event. We only buy tickets for one day and take day trips from Denver during the other few days of our trip.
The Great American Brew Fest draws beer makers from all over the country. During the almost week long event there are serious competitions for brewers where the cash prizes are only second to the notoriety and publicity your receive from the accomplishment. There are also food and beer pairings with a farm to table menu for American Home Brewers Members.
With so many events to choose from, it is good to know that the evening tasting sessions are definitely the main event. However, there is so much more than just beer at these tastings. The American Cheese Society is in attendance and the lines for cheese samples are just as long for some beer lines sometimes! Is there a such a thing as too many cheese cubes? Then there is my personal favorite: people watching. Who doesn’t like to watching grown adults shake their stuff in the silent disco or parade around in costumes? Oh yes, there are lots and lots of costumes!
See, I told you this event is for non-beer lovers too!
I told you at the beginning of the post that I do not like beer. I must have tasted 20 kinds of beers during my first GABF and found them all a little less than yummy. So, for the second time around, we purchased a regular ticket for Mike, but a “designated driver” ticket for me. The “DD” ticket gives you entrance to the convention center and access to the DD tent that has cookies and root beer. Finally! A beer that I do like! It was a win-win.
While we have attended the Great American Beer Festival two times, there are definitely reasons to go back again and again. First, new breweries join GABF’s roster each year and secondly, brewers brew new beer each year. But, finally, the most important for us, it is a time for us to get together with great friends for new travel memories!