Today at 5:30 p.m. the doors at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) will open and the nation’s largest beer fest will be underway. A total of 457 breweries from across the continent have converged on Denver to serve thirsty fest-goers approximately 2,000 different beers. It will be the largest selection of American beer ever assembled. GABF will be attended by nearly 50,000 people this year. Tickets to GABF –especially the highly-desirable Saturday afternoon session– sell out ridiculously fast.
GABF is a competition as well as a beer festival. Brewers from across the continent compete for the coveted gold, silver and bronze medals that you often see adorning the walls of their brew pubs. A total of 495 breweries will compete for medals in approximately 80 different categories. Beers are judged by a panel of 132 judges.
Washington is always very well represented at GABF and we are always high on the leader board for the medal count. Once the judges’ results are released, we will report them here and we’ll all see how well our local brewers stack up against the rest of the country.
In order to bring a medal home from GABF you have to do more than simply make great beer. A great deal of thought goes into determining which of the 80 categories is the best fit for a particular beer. A stout might have a better chance of winning if entered as a “Sweet Stout” instead of a “American-Style Stout” or “Traditional Irish-Style Dry Stout.” This is not only because of how well a particular beer fits a particular category, it also has to do with the likely number of entrants in each category. It’s a very confusing chess match.
We have friends on the ground in Denver right now (we are very jealous). Going to GABF is an excellent excuse to go to Denver and experience their outstanding craft beer culture. Nobody knows the lay of the land better than our good friend Bryan Bendix (Diamond Knot Brewing).
Today, Bryan is conducting his “Bry tour of Downtown Denver breweries and street food 2009.” At his side will be Don Webb (Naked City Taphouse Brewery) among other Washington beer geeks. The tour will start with a stop at Pints Pub. Next, a bite to eat from a street vendor on 16th Street where, “The street food vendors are lined up the length of the 16th street mall.” After lunch it’s off to an open house at Great Divide Brewing, then on to Breckenridge Brewery’s Blake St. Pub. Finally, a stop at the Denver Chophouse and Brewery before hitting the GABF’s official opening at 5:30.
I’m a bit tired just thinking about it. However, I wish I was there with him. You go Bry! Don? Try to keep up. Below is a mobile photo that Bryan took last night as he visited the Falling Rock Tap House in downtown Denver.