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Category Archives: Beer Festival

6 Essential Tips for Scoring Great American Beer Festival Tickets

To many beer-lovers, the Great American Beer Festival is the end-all, be-all of beer festivals. It is the epitome of what a beer festival should be and beer nirvana all rolled into one massive event. It is also a very difficult ticket to purchase and, once a ticket is procured, an even more difficult event to navigate.

With just  two months until the 2018 festival, this year’s event takes place September 20-22, you’re going to need a plan for attending. Tickets go on sale to the general public August 1 at 12:00 noon Eastern Time through AXS.

Last year, tickets to the GABF 2017 sold out in mere hours. That means you have to put some serious effort into getting your entry media. Fortunately, there are several ways you can give yourself an advantage over the unwashed masses.

  1. Mark your calendar and take time off.
    Since tickets go on sale on a Wednesday morning, if you work regular hours, you might want to take the morning off. You’ll know by 1:00 p.m. if you have tickets or not, so if you want to work the afternoon, just take a half day. Or, if you want to celebrate (or, heaven forbid, commiserate), take the whole day off and have a few beers in the afternoon.
  2. Check your account.
    A few days prior to the sale date, log in to AXS and make sure all of your information is up-to-date. Keep in mind, that if you do get through and get a chance to purchase tickets, you will only have a few minutes to complete your transaction. Nothing is more depressing than getting through and finding out that the credit card you have on file is expired.
  3. Get membership benefits.
    Consider joining the American Homebrewers Association. Members of the AHA can purchase GABF tickets a day before tickets go on sale to the general public. This is a huge advantage and practically assures you to score tickets. And, with membership to the AHA costing as little as $38 a year, it is a good investment. Not to mention you will get a whole host of benefits including six issues of Zymurgy, the Association’s magazine, discounts and, of course, early access to GABF tickets.

    IMPORTANT: If you decide to join the AHA to score tickets to GABF, be sure to do so before Wednesday, July 18, 2018 11:59 pm MT.

  4. Log in early.
    The interweb is going to be packed on the day of GABF ticket sales and this often means lag. By connecting early you increase your chance of getting through and avoiding long lag times that could cause your browser to crash. Plan on being online at least 45 minutes or more ahead of sale time.
  5. Enlist your friends.
    The Beatles famously said that they, “Get by with a little help from my friends.” Getting tickets for GABF is just the situation you want to put this phrase to work. Since each person that gets through can purchase up to four tickets, get your friends to help with the chase. If you have four friends that want to go, get all of them on their computers trying like mad. If just one of your cabal gets through and succeeds in acquiring tickets, your mission is accomplished.Pro Tip: Be sure all of your friends have AXS accounts and make sure they log in to check their status a few days prior to the sale date.
  6. Refresh as if you life depended on it.
    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This is particularly true in this instance. You are battling thousands of other hopeful attendees for the few coveted GABF tickets that exist. If you get an error, just keep refreshing. With luck, you will hit refresh at the precise moment an Internet connection opens and your GABF dreams will come true.

If, after doing all of the above, you still do not manage to grab tickets, there are secondary markets. Sure, you’ll pay more for the tickets, but if you really want to go, that may be your only outlet. Just stay away from Craigslist and any other unverified ticket agency. You do not want to be the guy that shows up at the door with a counterfeit ticket and be denied admission.

Watch for more articles on how to get the most out of your GABF experience.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2018 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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GABF brewery participation at record levels

GABF03

Photo: GreatAmericanBeerFestival.com

Every year about this time, beer-lovers around the country begin to start scouring the airline sites for cheap flights to Denver. Why? Because tickets to the epitome of beer festivals, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), generally go on sale around the end of July or beginning of August. This year tickets go up for grabs on August 1 to members of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) and August 2 to the general public.

What’s the big deal?

Scale. Think about any other beer festival you have ever attended and multiply it by a factor of about 10. The festival itself is just the beginning. The week of GABF sees dozens of satellite events spring up around Denver. Anything from tap takeovers to beer dinners to rare beer tastings take place. Couple that with the wealth of breweries in the greater Denver area and within an hour’s drive of the Mile-High city and you have the makings of an epic beer adventure.

This year the festival, which is both a beer-tasting festival and beer-judging event, will see the largest number of breweries serving tastes to festival attendees and an even larger number sending beers across the country to be judged in the competition. While exact numbers are not known yet, early sources say that there is room for around 900 tasting booths. With each brewery likely to bring three to four beers, the potential beers to taste could extend to nearly 4,000.

In addition to tasting booths, GABF provides beer-lovers with opportunities to meet brewers from some of their favorite breweries at 150 special “Meet the Brewer” booths. At these booths, attendees can ask questions, get insights and show their support of local brewers.

Other activities at the festival include seminars, beer and cheese pairings, an embedded food and beer pairing festival (separately ticketed), a massive brewery t-shirt sales booth where attendees can by shirts from breweries around the country, book signings and much more.

On the competition side, up to this point more than 2,200 breweries have signed up to enter their brews in the GABF competition. Considering that there are about 5,500 breweries in the country now, that means that nearly half of the breweries in the United States have offered up beers for judging.

It’s no wonder that GABF is considered the premier beer festival in the country.

This year the festival runs from October 5-7 over four sessions. Tickets are $85 for the general public and $80 for AHA members. If you are planning on trying to get tickets to this bucket list event, you might want to take a look at the article I wrote a few months ago. In 6 Tips You Must Know to Score GABF Tickets, I outline how you can increase your chances to attend the festival of a lifetime.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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6 tips you must know to score GABF tickets

GABFmedia_02To many beer-lovers, the Great American Beer Festival is the end-all, be-all of beer festivals. It is the epitome of what a beer festival should be and beer nirvana all rolled into one massive event. It is also a very difficult ticket to purchase and, once a ticket is procured, an even more difficult event to navigate.

With just  five months to the 2017 festival, this year’s event takes place October 5-7, will need a plan for attending this event. Tickets go on sale to the general public August 2 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time through Ticketmaster.

Last year, tickets to the GABF 2016 sold out in just one hour and seven minutes. That means you have to put some serious effort into getting your entry media. Fortunately, there are several ways you can give yourself an advantage over the unwashed masses.

  1. Mark your calendar and take time off.
    Since tickets go on sale on a Wednesday morning, if you work regular hours, you might want to take the morning off. You’ll know by 10:00 a.m. if you have tickets or not, so if you want to work the afternoon, just take a half day. Or, if you want to celebrate (or, heaven forbid, commiserate), take the whole day off and have a few beers in the afternoon.
  2. Check your account.
    A few days prior to the sale date, log in to Ticketmaster and make sure all of your information is up-to-date. Keep in mind, that if you do get through and get a chance to purchase tickets, you will only have a few minutes to complete your transaction. Nothing is more depressing than getting through and finding out that the credit card you have on file is expired.
  3. Get membership benefits.
    Consider joining the American Homebrewers Association. Members of the AHA can purchase GABF tickets a day before tickets go on sale to the general public. This is a huge advantage and practically assures you to score tickets. And, with membership to the AHA costing as little as $38 a year, it is a good investment. Not to mention you will get a whole host of benefits including six issues of Zymurgy, the Association’s magazine, discounts and, of course, early access to GABF tickets.
  4. Log in early.
    The interweb is going to be packed on the day of GABF ticket sales and this often means lag. By connecting early you increase your chance of getting through and avoiding long lag times that could cause your browser to crash. Plan on being online at least 45 minutes or more ahead of sale time.
  5. Enlist your friends.
    The Beatles famously said that they, “Get by with a little help from my friends.” Getting tickets for GABF is just the situation you want to put this phrase to work. Since each person that gets through can purchase up to four tickets, get your friends to help with the chase. If you have four friends that want to go, get all of them on their computers trying like mad. If just one of your cabal gets through and succeeds in acquiring tickets, your mission is accomplished.


    Pro Tip: Be sure all of your friends have Ticketmaster accounts and make sure they log in to check their status a few days prior to the sale date.

  6. Refresh as if you life depended on it.If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This is particularly true in this instance. You are battling thousands of other hopeful attendees for the few coveted GABF tickets that exist. If you get an error, just keep refreshing. With luck, you will hit refresh at the precise moment an Internet connection opens and your GABF dreams will come true.

If, after doing all of the above, you still do not manage to grab tickets, there are secondary markets. Sure, you’ll pay more for the tickets, but if you really want to go, that may be your only outlet. Just stay away from Craigslist and any other unverified ticket agency. You do not want to be the guy that shows up at the door with a counterfeit ticket and be denied admission.

Watch for more articles on how to get the most out of your GABF experience.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival, Travel

 

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Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp to host pre-season beer fest

Jumbo Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival-page-001The inaugural season of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp is quickly approaching and the team is planning a whole slew of great events to keep baseball lovers entertained and delighted. One of the first events is designed to appeal to beer lovers – the Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival at the Baseball Grounds.

Local brews will be highlighted at the event along with more than 50 beers to sample. Concession stands throughout the ballpark will also be open to serve hungry festival goers some of the new menu offerings featured this year.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 1 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and will benefit the Jacksonville USO.

For all the event details, take a look at the official press release below:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp season begins next month, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville will play host to the Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival to benefit the Jacksonville USO on Saturday, April 1, when guests will have a unique opportunity to get an early taste of the new ballpark menu and sample selections from more than 50 different beers including Northeast Florida’s local breweries.

The Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival will be Saturday, April 1, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. VIP ticket holders will be able to enter at 2 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Jacksonville USO.

“The Greater Jacksonville Area USO is most thankful to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for their support of the Shrimp and & Suds fundraiser in support of the USO and all the military families we serve,” said Greater Jacksonville Area USO Executive Director Mike O’Brien.

Tickets for the Shrimp & Suds Craft Beer Festival are available at www.jaxshrimp.com. For $40, a guest will receive 20 drink samples and a Jumbo-size ballpark pretzel. VIP admission is $50, which includes 25 drink samples, a Jumbo-size ballpark pretzel, and early access one hour before the gates open for other guests. Legal ID will be necessary for entry to the event, which is exclusively for guests ages 21 and over.

Samples will be available at the event of more than 50 different beers, including samples from local Aardwolf Brewing Company, Ancient City Brewing, Bold City Brewery, Engine 15 Brewing Company, Green Room Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, Pinglehead Brewing Company, Veterans United Craft Brewery, and Zeta Brewing Company.

Throughout the festival, guests will be able to purchase food and beverage from the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville concession stands, shop for Jumbo Shrimp gear in the souvenir store, or purchase game tickets for the upcoming season.

The First Coast Car Council will also showcase specialty vehicles on the ballpark warning track during the event.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival

 

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Hunahpu’s Day 2017: A long road to perfection

Hunahpus-Day-2017-Tease-300x300Back in 2010, Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout made its debut in the beer scene. The decadent stout aged on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho chilies, pasilla chilies and cinnamon garnered Cigar City a gold medal at the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Open Beer Championships catapulting it to the national beer scene’s attention.

In that first year, Hunahpu’s release day was a relatively small event held in the brewery tap room. Several hundred beer-lovers gathered to taste and purchase bottles of the beer with little fanfare. But, as word of the beer spread through the beer community, demand began to grow. The beer became a hot commodity on many beer trading websites and, as bottles became more scarce, demand grew to a fever pitch.

Taking notice of the demand for the beer, the brewery planned a bigger event for the second release date. Dubbed Hunahpu’s Day, in 2011 guest breweries were invited to bring their rare and specialty beers, set up tents and offer tastes of their beers on a pay-per-pour basis. Crowds were heavy, but manageable. Except for a few scuffles over line position, the event went well enough for Cigar City to plan the same type of event for the next year.

By 2013, the hype of Hunahpu’s Day had built to such a level that hundreds – perhaps thousands — of beer aficionados queued up to get their allotment of the brew. The line was so long that the line ran several blocks up the street from the brewery and into a nearby shopping center parking lot. Rabid fans began lining up as early as 8:00 p.m. the night before, camping out at the gates of the brewery in order to be one of the first to sample the cornucopia of rare beers brought by breweries from all over the country. Many brought coolers and shared beer as a way to whittle away at the time.

Complaints of long lines began within the first hour or so of the event. Crowds crushed in to lines at the most popular tents creating waits of more than an hour. Often, unscrupulous guests would cut the line and walk right up to the front much to the ire of those who had been waiting in the hot Florida sun. To make matters worse, a staffing agency had been hired to provide servers who had no training on how to pour beer causing even longer waits.

After the event was over, it was estimated 9,000 guests passed through the gates at Cigar City leaving over-flowing port-a-lets, mounds of trash and myriad complaints from guest who were unable to get beers they had set their minds on drinking. But, due to some quick thinking by Cigar City owner, Joey Redner who reduced bottle purchase limits from three per person to two, anyone who wanted a bottle of Hunahpu’s was able to purchase one.

The massive crowds of the past led Redner and Cigar City Brewing President Toni Derby to change the format to a ticketed event in 2014. It was also decided that the event would be limited to 3,500 attendees. Ticket holders were entitled to unlimited tastes of guest beers and guaranteed an opportunity to purchase an allotment of three bottles. When the tickets went on sale on Eventbrite, they sold out in less than two hours. In theory, by limiting the number of guests, the brewery would be better able to plan for the event and insure that there would be plenty of beer for everyone. Further, guests were to be issued a silver wristband upon entry that would be removed when they had purchased their bottles of beer. Guests were told that they could purchase their allotment of bottles any time during the day, but that at 4:00 p.m. remaining bottles would be available for purchase without limit.

Because of the popularity of the event in the past and the speed at which tickets sold out, a lively secondary market for ticket sales popped up on other online outlets such as Craigslist. Since tickets purchased on Eventbrite can be printed at home, at least one – and likely several – purchasers made copies of tickets and sold the copies online. As the counterfeit tickets began appearing at the festival gates, arguments between duped guests and ticket-takers broke out. The line to get into the event began to grow and tempers flared. A snap decision was made to open the gates to everyone. The influx of bodies filled the brewery parking lot to capacity and beer lines grew longer and longer.

Then, at 4:00 p.m. when open bottle sales began the crowd shifted from the tasting lines to the purchase lines. Thousands crowded in, vying to get extra bottles.  Many purchased the 22-ounce bottles in cases of 12. But, as the feeding frenzy escalated, it became apparent that there were many guests who still had their silver wristbands and had not been able to purchase their promised three bottles. Clashes broke out between those buying extra bottles and those trying to get their allotment.

By 5:00 p.m. the bottles sold out. Redner, looking frazzled, put his hands into the air and announced that there were no more bottles to sell and police officers moved in to close the metal bay doors. The crowd became even more agitated with several banging on the doors others chanting, “Cigar City sucks!” To many caught in the middle of the crowd, it looked as if a riot could break out.

In the end, the festival was concluded early and, as the dust settled, Redner made an apology and a promise to get Hunahpu’s to any who did not get their allotment. Later, in a statement, he said, “I am acknowledging defeat. That was the last Hunahpu’s Day. The beer will go into distribution next year and hopefully spread out among many accounts, it will get to consumers more fairly.”

But, though it looked as if Hunahpu’s Day would never happen again, Cigar City surprised consumers and announced that there would indeed be a Hunahpu’s Day 2015. But, the event would be a strictly controlled, ticketed event limited to 2,000 attendees with a ticket price of $200. Each ticket included four bottles of Hunahpu’s to be handed out as guests left the festival. They also included food and unlimited tastings of guest beers.

The event went off without a hitch.

Then, in 2016, the brewery decided to take its show on the road and hold the event at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park on Tampa’s waterfront. The change of venue allowed the event to stretch out a bit and kept it from feeling so crowded. It also allowed the event to grow to include more brewers and that meant more exceptional beers to taste.

This year, Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Day will once again occupy Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park with even more brewers than 2016. The lineup includes such luminaries in the brewing business as Anderson Valley, Black Project, Crooked Stave, Firestone Walker, Fremont and Toppling Goliath. In addition, there are 16 breweries from 13 different countries as far flung as Russia, New Zealand and Sweden that will afford beer lovers tastes of beers they may never otherwise be able to try.

The 2017 edition if Hunahpu’s Day takes place Saturday, March 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, 601 Old Water St., Tampa, Fla.

Cigar City advises all attendees to plan on taking Uber to the event.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Beer, Beer Festival, Beer Releases

 

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