Here’s a surprise that kind of crept up on me – summer’s just about over. How can I tell? Well, all those stories about what to drink in the fall – and the realization that the Great American Beer Festival is now just one month away. Yep, the GABF, generally considered America’s top craft beer event, is, Sept 24th through the 26th at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Many folks think of it only in terms of the competition but it is so much more.
The list of breweries participating in the public tasting event is mind boggling – more than 740 (though at one point the Brewers Association had predicted 800). More than 3,500 beers will be available to sample. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records certifies this event as the one offering the most beers on tap. There are educational seminars on beer and food open to everyone. And yes, they do sell a designated driver ticket. That’ll get you access to walk around, but the only thing you get to drink is soda.
It was started by the Brewers Association in 1982 – and as the craft world has exploded, so has the festival. They’re renting even more space at the Colorado Convention Center this year, meaning attendance can jump from 49,000 to 60,000. And for the first timer they’re offering a free app to do everything from browsing breweries to writing tasting notes.
As for the competition – last year 1,309 breweries entered. More than 5,500 beers were judged. And, the part I love, this is the first chance for many new or small breweries to be noticed outside of their local areas. Many – often to their own surprise – go home with medals, publicity, and a new fan base. Some of the breweries we visit on Beer Geeks fall into that category – often, that is how we find them. And when we meet the brewers, it’s clear the recognition is a milestone in their lives.
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