Every year, Chad and I attend the Great American Beer Festival. It is where our discussions of Big Texas Beer Fest originated from. We purchase tickets as ordinary festival-goers, we plan our Denver trip around the four sessions, we make notes on which breweries we want to hit while we are there.
The morning of the festival, we order a pancake flight from Snooze, we pound all the water we can, and we make our walk to the Denver Convention Center. It’s become a tradition, and we don’t plan on breaking tradition any time soon. GABF, much like our Big Texas Beer Fest, has become a part of our lives.
Everything about GABF is immaculately organized. From the lines of ticketholders that enter the building at lightning speed, to the systematic floorplan arranged by region, it is a sight to be seen. This year, GABF brought in 750 American Breweries, presenting 3,800 beers. The four sessions totaled 60,000 festival attendees who purchased all the tickets in less than 2 hours. As the growth of craft breweries continues, so does the growth of the festival.
An extra 100,000 square feet were added this year, which dramatically improved movement throughout the festival. A few years ago, the Texas breweries got swallowed in this space. These days, it almost feels like we’re hanging out with all of our Texas friends, only in Colorado.
Now for the beer. Below were a few of my favorites:
The beer that gives me mental inception year after year: Funky Buddha – No Crusts. When you drink this beer, the flavors come in layers. First you smell the peanut butter – you take a sip, and are immediately greeted by toasty bready notes – but then in the finish, you’re like “wait, is that STRAWBERRY JAM?!”. Liquid peanut butter and jelly sandwich, my friends. Unbelievable.
Trending craft beer flavors: Strawberry and Apricot, and not just in sours. Most exciting was Ten Barrel’s Strawberry Crush, which had such a lovely strawberry tobacco smell, and wasn’t aggressively sour.
“Healthiest” Beer – Avery’s Day Tox. A Belgian Ale soured in neutral barrels with organic ginger and beet juice. I mean, this is the only way you’ll get me ingesting any kind of beets, and enjoying it.
An important soapbox note: GABF will provide an economic impact of more than $22 million on the city of Denver this year, based on last year’s statistics. Not only that, but it provides a platform for breweries to show what beers they are most proud of, and brewers deserve more platforms like this. I know that some people don’t understand why we push the craft beer movement, and why we are so passionate about it.
For us, it’s not just about partying with your friends. It’s about tasting a beer, noting what makes it stand out among others. It’s about meeting the people behind that beer, and learning their story. Most importantly, it’s about introducing others (beer drinkers, bar owners, distributors) to our friends because we truly believe in them and what they are doing. The passion will also drive the party, which is what makes GABF an event we will continue to go to year after year.