A Shoutout to GABF
There’s one beer event that I look forward to every year (and I’m sure most of you beer drinkers out there feel the same): The Great American Beer Festival!
I wish I could go every year, but money and responsibilities always preclude my trip. (Damn you Responsibility!)
I was, however, able to attend in 2008, and believe me… if you ever get the chance to go, GO!
GABF takes place in the Denver Convention Center. It’s huge! A beautiful building in downtown Denver, surrounded by shops, restaurants, and bars (hooray!); so you can amuse yourself when the beer tastings aren’t in session. I went with fellow J Streeter, Pyzocha. We amused ourselves by going out and drinking more beer. Which in hindsight may not have been our smartest idea.
We picked up tickets for every session. Go big or go home, right? The Thursday night session was the first, and possibly the best session. For Thursday, we were there early, it wasn’t as packed (which may not have been the case this year) and all the brewers had their beers ready to go.
The Convention Center has a huge open room with hundreds of breweries there to show off their finest stuff. You’re given a tasting glass, a map, and a slap on the ass to get you going (okay, maybe there wasn’t a slap on the ass… but I’m sure I needed one because I probably looked like the kids the first time they walk into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory).
You’re absolutely overwhelmed. So many different beers to try, and so little time. There’s of course the old standby styles, like IPA, Stout, Porter; but the best part about it was being able try something new. I tried my first smoked porter there, and my first chili beer. Everyone was there to impress. Deschutes set up a wild booth, Dogfish dragged out Randall, and even New Belgium had the bike. Bud started pimping out Bud Light Lime that year (Shintern must have been thrilled!).
Friday’s session was the same as Thursday, just more people. But believe me, I was not disappointed.
Saturday morning is the member’s session. That’s when all the award winners are announced. It’s great to hear your local brewery, or your favorite beer called out over the loudspeaker getting its first of many medals.
The Saturday evening session I was done. I was so worn out I couldn’t make it through the whole session. I went back to the hotel and passed out. I was shot, but I wouldn’t have changed anything.
At the time we went, they were discussing canned beers during the brewers forums. Only a few brewers were doing it at the time (Oskar Blues, Maui, etc.), and look at where we are now. Hooray good canned beer!
GABF was an incredible experience. You meet great people, drink great beers, and try new things. Definitely worth the trip.
From the sounds of things, this year’s Great American Beer Festival was a great one. Here is the list of all the winners. Be sure to check it out. Support your local brewers, and start planning your trip to Denver next year.