Gather 60,000 people into a relatively small area and pour over 3,500 different beers and you’re bound to have a good time.
While the Great American Beer Festival might sound to some like a bacchanalia of sorts, it’s really more a celebration of the beer culture. And it’s hardly contained to the Colorado Convention Center. The event consumes pretty much all of downtown Denver – with dozens, if not hundreds, of bar- and tap takeovers.
It’s the beer world’s Super bowl – and there’s never a lack of interesting things to see.
Here are some of the sights of this year’s show.
Scalpers were asking more than $500 per ticket in the weeks leading up to the Great American Beer Festival, but as the show got underway, there was a liquidation sale on the street – though, as with any major event, a fair number of those were likely counterfeit and the festival had very prominent signage warning people not to buy from brokers.
Lord of the Beers
A plethora of pitchers
Germany comes to Denver
While a few men walked the show floor in lederhosen, it’s mostly women who don the traditional German attire of Oktoberfest bar maids. The authenticity only went as far as the costume, though, as everyone tasted a wide variety of beers.
High demand beers
When word gets out about an especially good beer, people flock to it. And if you’re not fast enough, you might lose your chance to try it. Speed is critical in hunting down these show ‘whales,’ but it also helps to get a sense of what’s popular early on.
Shirts! Shirts! And more shirts! (And hats!)
Beer lovers don’t just attend GABF to drink, it’s also a chance to update their wardrobes – or grab a shirt from their latest favorite brewery. The primary retail shop at the show spans 30 feet and usually has a queued line of people waiting for their turn to spend up to $30 per shirt. Demand for merchandise is so strong that this year, for the first time, festival organizers opened a second kiosk in the new Brewer’s Hall area.
Free beer – lots of it
Many brewers try something new at GABF, but no one has pushed the envelope quite as much as Dad & Dude’s Breweria so far this year. Indica Double IPA is made with cannabidoil – cannabis that has had the mind-altering THC removed. It doesn’t alter the taste of the beer, says co-founder Mason “Dude” Hembree, but it sure does turn heads (including, at one point prior to the show, those of federal officials).