The buzz has begun as GABF Week kicks off here in Denver. If you are headed to the Great American Beer Festival this weekend, please enjoy this recap from the 2016 event in our beloved Mile High City, courtesy of one of our Après Yoga teachers Molly Nowels.
If you haven’t heard of the Great American Beer Festival, you are missing out! It is the largest beer festival in the US, and this year 60,000 people attended. 3,800+ beers from 780 US breweries were served!
When you first walk in the giant convention room, you are given a small beer “glass” that holds only a few ounces. When the event officially starts, bagpipers play (loudly!) and everyone shuffles into the festival, with their hand-made pretzel necklaces (so you don’t just fill your stomach with beers). Breweries are broken up by geographic region of the US, so you can try multiple breweries from the same area of the country in a row. Some people have strategies they craft before the festival, so that they can make the most of their experience. I did not do that, but it sounds like a good idea. I decided not to try many local Denver and Colorado breweries, because I wanted to try brews that I couldn’t get regularly where I live.
Lots of breweries have fun gimmicks to get you to try their beers. New Holland Brewing from Michigan brought their mobile camper (which also happened to be the most well air-conditioned place in the whole hall) and allowed people to go in and check out how they get around the country. Uinta Brewing from Utah set up a tent that you had to enter to get your beer! Lots of breweries have pins or stickers for festival attendees. Some breweries have flashy endcaps, but most just have a small section of a row of tables, and pour their tasty brews from pitchers.
My top beers were the Bonobos, a tasty pale ale from Monkey Paw Brewing in San Diego; Farmer’s Reserve Blackberry, a fruity sour beer from Almanac Beer Co. in San Francisco; and Raspberry Wild One, a delicious wild ale from Bells Brewery in Comstock, MI.
Along with lots of delicious beer, the festival also included a pop-up bookstore rife with books about beer and homebrewing, a silent disco, a whole section of meet-the-brewer tents for breweries from all over, and a free cheese station (this was my favorite part).
After a few hours of walking around and drinking beers, we were ready to go (I was very full of pretzels, cheese, and beer!). We didn’t stay for the entire 5-hour event, but we had a really wonderful time. Cheers! Salud! Prost! To Another Great American Beer Festival!