Great American Beer Festival (Part II)
One month later after the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), is time to tell to all of you all my impressions about my first this festival, that actually was, my first American Beer Festival. The GABF is considered as one of the top 1000 places in the U.S. to visit before you die. If you have the opportunity and you are a good fan of the American Beers, probably this festival will delight of your expectations. I finally meet with really nice people there (Hi Matt if you are reading that :P) and now I am considering to come back next year again if I have the chance. The GABF is taken during three days, but during the whole week, you can enjoy all the events and especial beers that will be on tap. So is a good option just go to the GABF for one or two seasons and then enjoy the festival in the rest of pubs and breweries.
Apart from the GABF is a festival related all the American breweries, it is celebrated in Denver (Colorado). The Colorado Convention Center is in the downtown and is quite easy to head off. The venue is a show grounds for different kind of events and very appropriate for this festival. When you listen that during the 35th edition of the GABF has passed more than 60.000 people you can be freaked out, but when you are inside, you can expect this or more. You can’t bring with you a back bag, or liquids, crystal bottles, any liquids,etc. These are for security reasons. Also, there is not wardrobe inside, you have to plan accordingly. You can bring a plastic bottle (empty) to fill up of water inside. One thing that you must be aware of Colorado is the altitude, so, drink water when you are drinking if don’t want to be intoxicated quickly.
The queues can be long, yes, but probably, the GABF has been one of the beer festivals where the control and organization have been more successfully. The first queue that you have to do is to go inside of the Convention Center. In all the seasons this took me around 5 min with the exception to the Saturday evening which it was around 30 min. Once you have shown your ticket (don’t forget your ID), you will get your wristband. You are almost inside, but not yet :-). You must pass the security control. Then, you have to get your glass (plastic for all seasons except for the only members season on Saturday afternoon). And after this, now your are ready to do THE QUEUE. There are several queues depending on the time that you head off to the venue, and these are opened in strict order of arrival. For example, if you arrive at 16:30, you probably will be inside sooner because your queue will be opened before that if someone arrives at 17:00.
I recommend going to the venue at least 30/45 min before the festival starts, but you can find people even two or three hours in advanced.
In some breweries, you probably will need to spend some minutes in the queue. The breweries that I found with more time waiting were:
- Funky Buddha
- Bell’s Brewery
- Russian River
- Wicked Weed
- Firestone Walker
So before going to these breweries don’t forget to grab some beer before 🙂
1oz glass (3cl) made of Lexan. I think is a good size if you want to taste more than 50 beers per session. Although there are people that are not particularly a fan of plastic glass, I have to say that I didn’t find any problem with aromas, foam, consistency,etc. The glass is resistant and well done. During the member’s session on Saturday afternoon, you will get a 1oz crystal glass. If you break or lost your glass, you can’t get another one.
As other beer festivals, you have to pay for each session and you can drink all the beers that you want. This year the price for each season was like (you have a small discount if you are member of the AHA of BA):
|Thursday, October 6||5:30 pm – 10:00 pm||$80|
|Friday, October 7||5:30 pm – 10:00 pm||$80|
|Saturday, October 8 Members Only Session||12:00 pm – 4:00 pm||Two Ticket Limit per Member Number Current Members: $65 each|
|Saturday, October 8||5:30 pm – 10:00 pm||$80|
|Designated Driver*||Available for all sessions.||$25|
The food was based mostly in snacks: pork jerky, cheese, popcorn, pretzels and also with some small dishes. I recommend you eat well before go in.
The Beers tasted
I think that I forgot to take some notes of two or three beers, but this is my beer list:
- India Pale Ale (IPA) by Yards Brewing Co.
- Local Honey by Woods Beer
- Funk’n Patch by Uinta Brewing Company
- Humulus Insani by Überbrew
- Grandmaster Citra SMaSH by Überbrew
- Nukin’ Futz by Track 7 Brewing Company
- Handfuls of Hops IPA by StormBreaker Brewing
- Pata Negra by Sterling Pig Brewery
- Raspberry Agave Tart by Rockyard Brewing Company
- Puma by Rhinegeist Brewery
- Fist City by Revolution Brewing Company
- Ægir’s Grog by Rants And Raves Brewery
- Temple of Dank by Pizza Port Brewing Co.
- Sour IPA by Pfriem Family Brewers
- Hi-Red IPA by Palmetto Brewing Company
- Rainier Pale Mountain Ale by Pabst Brewing Company
- Ipanema Girl by Novo Brazil Brewing Co.
- Main Street Cream Ale by Mother Earth Brew Co. (California)
- Amber Ale by Mission Brewery
- Vamplifier by Magic Hat Brewing Company
- Brett Devo by The Lost Abbey
- Authentic SLO Wild Ale (Batch 2) by The Libertine Brewing Company
- Framboise by The Libertine Brewing Company
- TuberFest (2016) by Lagunitas Brewing Company
- Farmhouse Pale Ale by Kindred Artisan Ales
- Hoppy Claus™ Holiday Ale by Hoppy Brewing Company
- Fat Randy’s IPA by Holidaily Brewing Co.
- Doppelbock by Heretic Brewing Company
- Snow Drop by Grimm Brothers Brewhouse
- Strawberry Rhubarb Sour by Great Divide Brewing Company
- Hombre Secreto With Mango by Goose Island Beer Co.
- No Crusts by Funky Buddha Brewery
- Yo Soy Un Berliner by Freetail Brewing Co.
- A-Town Pale by Faction Brewing
- Son of A Baptist by Epic Brewing Co. (Utah, Colorado)
- Mario Gose (w/ Key Lime) by Flix Brewhouse
- Signature Series Bligh’s Barleywine Ale by Dry Dock Brewing Company
- Smoked Gose by Deschutes Brewery
- Bobblehead Red IPA by Coronado Brewing Company
- Guayabera Citra Pale Ale by Cigar City Brewing
- Farmhouse Saison Locale by Carter’s Brewing
- Breakside IPA by Breakside Brewery
- Gooze Cruze by Boneyard Beer Company
- Hop Totem by Blue Owl Brewing
- Me So Honey by Belching Beaver Brewery
- Saison Bleu by Alosta Brewing Co.
- Hive 56 by Allagash Brewing Company
- 30th Anniversary Perseverance Ale by Alaskan Brewing Co.
- Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA by Alameda Brewing Co.
- Pernicious IPA by Wicked Weed Brewing
- Pilgrimage Extra Pale Ale by Vernal Brewing Company
- Cream Cycle by Transplants Brewing Company
- Red Whitey (Raspberry White Ale) by Swamp Rabbit Brewery
- Chili Pepper Ale by Six Rivers Brewery
- Barrel-Aged Bigfoot (2016) by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
- Otra Vez by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
- Dry Creek Blonde Ale by Santa Clara Valley Brewing
- Pliny the Elder by Russian River Brewing Company
- HopTime Harvest Ale by Russian River Brewing Company
- Citra-Hero by Revolution Brewing Company
- Dubious Nights by The Rare Barrel
- Monumental® IPA by Port City Brewing
- Scummy One by Pizza Port Brewing Co.
- Today Was A Good Day IPA by Pizza Port Brewing Co.
- Beerito by Oskar Blues Brewery
- Quit Stalin by Mother Earth Brew Co. (California)
- Thermometer Island by Modern Times Beer
- Farmers Only by Living The Dream Brewing
- Peanut Butter Porter by Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co.
- Wake Up Dead Nitro by Left Hand Brewing Company
- Orange Tuxedo by King Harbor Brewing Company
- Aurora Hoppyalis by Karl Strauss Brewing Company
- Slower Lower IPA by Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
- Centennial Colorado Common by Halfpenny Brewing Company
- Navaja by Half Acre Beer Company
- Dia De Los Serranos by Green Flash Brewing Company
- 22nd Anniversary by Great Divide Brewing Company
- Denver Pale Ale (DPA) by Great Divide Brewing Company
- Samurai by Great Divide Brewing Company
- Titan IPA by Great Divide Brewing Company
- Nadia Kali by Great Divide Brewing Company
- Floridian Hefeweizen by Funky Buddha Brewery
- Session Pale Ale by Fremont Brewing
- Lavender Haze IPA by Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery
- Luponic Distortion: Revolution No. 003 by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
- Firestone 19 (XIX) Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
- Bergen Blonde by El Rancho Brewing Company
- Amber Ale by Dry Dock Brewing Company
- Siracusa Nera by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
- Fresh Squeezed IPA by Deschutes Brewery
- Moonlight Rye by Copper Club Brewing Company
- Rye Dawn by Breakwater Brewing Company
- Black Note Stout by Bell’s Brewery
- Grapefruit Sculpin by Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
- Horny Devil by AleSmith Brewing Company
- White Angel by Wicked Weed Brewing
- Lunatic Blonde by Wicked Weed Brewing
- Freak of Nature by Wicked Weed Brewing
- Hash Session IPA by SweetWater Brewing Company
- Hell by Surly Brewing Company
- Extra Pale Ale (EPA) by Summit Brewing Company
- Stone 20th Anniversary Citracado IPA by Stone Brewing
- Nu Skool IPA by Southern Tier Brewing Company
- Hop Ivy by Ska Brewing
- Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
- Anodyne by Revolver Brewing
- Rev Pils by Revolution Brewing Company
- Gose by Reuben’s Brews
- Real Heavy by Real Ale Brewing Company
- Chaos (2016) by RAM Restaurant & Brewery / C.B. & Potts
- Achtertuin Seizoen by The Post Brewing Company
- Churchill’s Finest Hour (2016) by Port Brewing Company
- Hop-15 Ale by Port Brewing Company
- Surf Check Alley by Pizza Port Brewing Co.
- Piedmont Pilsner by Olde Hickory Brewery
- Jolly Russian by Odell Brewing Co.
- Nobility by Noble Ale Works
- Naughty Sauce by Noble Ale Works
- Incorrigible by New Holland Brewing Company
- Sauvage by NOLA Brewing
- Ginger Peach Saison by New Glory Craft Brewery
- Cabernet Dark Sour by New Belgium Brewing Company
- Mélange a Trois by Nebraska Brewing Company
- Melvin IPA by Melvin Brewing
- Framboise de Amorosa by The Lost Abbey
- Riverwest Stein Beer by Lakefront Brewery
- Breaking Bud by Knee Deep Brewing Company
- Red Trolley Ale by Karl Strauss Brewing Company
- Barrel Aged D.O.R.I.S. The Destroyer Double Imperial Stout by Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
- Muscat Love by Great South Bay Brewery
- Jetty Cream Ale by Great South Bay Brewery
- Barrel Aged Yeti by Great Divide Brewing Company
- Last Snow by Funky Buddha Brewery
- Ryedorado by FATE Brewing Company
- Bricoleur Batch #2 by Fair State Brewing Cooperative
- Danish Style Red Lager by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
- Anniversary Brett IPA by Double Shift Brewing Company
- Post Boil IPA by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
- Peppermill Imperial Porter by Deschutes Brewery
- King Nalu Koa’e by Declaration Brewing
- Obsidian Stout by Deschutes Brewery
- Belgium Blonde by Colorado Boy
- Solid Gold Belgian Golden by Cannonball Creek Brewing Co.
- Chocolate Rain by The Bruery
- Melange No. 14 by The Bruery
- 7 Swans-A-Swimming by The Bruery
- Mischief by The Bruery
- Rye Curious? by Breakside Brewery
- ESB by Breakside Brewery
- Riverwalker IPA by Bosque Brewing (New Mexico)
- Acequia by Bosque Brewing (New Mexico)
- Oatsmobile Ale by Bell’s Brewery
- Hop Shovel™ by Bear Republic Brewing Co.
- Nom Nom by Barley Forge Brewing Co.
- Callipygian by Avery Brewing Co.
- Gold Digger IPA by Auburn Alehouse
- Eureka IPL by Alvarado Street Brewery
- White Label by Almanac Beer Company
- Crackin’ Up Pecan Porter by 903 Brewers
Special mentions for a few breweries that I didn’t try before and I found all their beers really good: Überbrew, The Bruery, Epic Brewing, Wicked Weed
Comparing European Festivals
The Great American Beer Festival is HUGE. I have never been to a beer festival with too many breweries and beers (more than 800 breweries and 3800 beers) but actually, some beer festival that we can find in Europe like the Copenhagen Beer Celebration or Borefts Beer Festival in Netherlands have the same format with a bit differences. You pay for a session and you can drink all the beers that you want. One interesting thing that I found was the “Brewery Pub” section, where you have a complete section just for brewpubs (not breweries), a good way to promote brewery pubs and local beers that probably are impossible to find in bottles or cans.
Was it worth it?
I would say YES. Is in must at least, once in a lifetime. If you are a fan of the American beers, is probably the best opportunity to find beers that you can’t find in Europe or even in some States of the USA. You can see the brewery list and probably you missed some breweries like The Alchemist, Three Floyds or Hill Farmstead, but you have around 800 breweries to taste in 3 days. Also, the GABF is fun. Pretzel necklaces, costumes, meet the brewers, paring food events, learn how to judge beers, book shop section, homebrewers section. You have all that you need to enjoy an awesome days in Colorado.
Also, I would recommend to spend more days in Colorado and join to the GABF party during that week.
I can’t promise that I will back next year, but I just say that I have already set up a “Google Flights Alert” to check the prices to Denver for October of 2017 😛