RSS

Tag Archives: GABF

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.

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

 
1 Comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Characters abound at GABF 2015

For many, dressing to attend the Great American Beer Festival is simply a matter of pulling on a pair of jeans and slipping on a favorite brewery t-shirt. And, the majority of attendees to the festival are dressed in these mundane garments garnering little to no real attention. But, for those who crave the limelight, who seek attention and who have a bit of a wild side, the dress code extends to more exotic apparel.  For those brave and outrageous souls, a mere pair of lederhosen is something an amateur would wear.  Outlandish costumes range from Where’s Waldo garb to full mascot outfits.

Here are just a few of the characters I ran into at this year’s Great American Beer Festival.

The answer to the eternal question,

the answer to the eternal question, “Where’s Waldo?” is answered; he is at GABF.

IMG_2446

Shark infested waters?

IMG_2583

Captain Hops

IMG_2428

Even the Brits are stylin’ at GABF.

IMG_2430

Bears, oh my!

IMG_2610

The pope may have been in Philly, but St. Arnold was in Denver.

IMG_2604

The kilted gang play their pipes.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Beer Festival

 

Tags: , , , ,

5 Brewery taprooms in one day kicks GABF week off in style

While not the official fist day of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), yesterday was my first day in Denver since the 2012 GABF. As the plane descended, I could see the mountains to the west and the excitement of the week came to a peak. My calendar is full and I will have plenty to report back.

On my first day in Denver, I spent time with my daughter and her fiance on an impromptu brewery taproom crawl. In all, we visited five taprooms, each with a very different vibe and delicious brews.

IMG_2287

Jagged Mountain taproom

Our first stop was Jagged Mountain Brewery. The corner spot this brewery occupies is just blocks from the main core of busy downtown Denver and features plenty of windows for imbibers to watch as people and traffic filter by outside. Inside the taproom is a rustic mixture of wood and brick. The staff is a cheerful lot with plenty of suggestions for new guests and directions to other breweries nearby when needed.

At Jagged Mountain I tried their Thunder Thighs Quad. At 12.8% ABV, this was the perfect beer to begin our long day of exploring the downtown Denver beer scene. The brew sports aromas of caramel and plums upfront and a slight peppery note hidden in the background.  The first sip reveals sweet bready malt flavors with a balanced light hop bitterness.

After a short walk just a few blocks up the street, we wandered into the very lively taproom of Great Divide. Anyone who has a Great Divide brew IMG_2295knows that the brewery makes some truly awesome beers. The taproom itself is in a corner building with windows set high on the wall. As the bright Colorado sunlight streamed in we started a conversation with guests from Philadelphia also in town for GABF.

Here I sipped the brewery’s Hoss a crisp rye lager loosely based on the German marzen style. The brewery’s website describe Hoss: “Rich, layered malt notes, with hints of cherry and dark fruits, dominate, while the unique addition of rye imparts a slightly earthy, spicy character.”

Our next brewery required a rather lengthy walk and a short bus ride, but when we found ourselves in front of the Denver Beer Company, I realized the walk was worth it. Situated on the opposite side of the Platt river from downtown, the taproom is features a large indoor area open to the outdoors and a large outdoor veranda.

On the tap list we discovered several seasonal brews and to my delight a blackberry sour ale labeled Brewhaha! The beer was delightfully bright in the glass and full of berry aromas. The flavor was bury BlackBerry with a slight sour note at the end.

IMG_2343

The copper brewhouse at Prost Brewery.

Another short walk and we found ourselves at Prost Brewing. On a previous visit to Denver I found this German brewery and fell in love with it. The owners spared no expense to import a genuine copper brewhouse from Germany and have worked diligently to remain true to its Bavarian roots. The taproom is festooned with Oktoberfest banners and picnic tables.

The beer list at Prost is dominated by authentic German lagers. I had both the marzen and kolsch. Both brews tasted just as they should and I found myself not wanting to leave.

Our final brewery was a surprise brewery that my future son-in-law realized we were near as we arrived at an event. De Steeg is literally a hidden gem located in a back ally. One would not know it was there if someone else did not tell you about it. But, this no frills taproom features a full slate of extreme brews with only a Berliner Weiss sporting and ABV below 7.8%. Every brew I tasted at this brewery was phenomenal. Of particular note was its Peach Tripel.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Beer Festival

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

7 tips to enhance your enjoyment of GABF or any beer festival

The granddaddy of all beer festivals, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), kicks off next week in Denver, Colo. With more than 750 breweries and 3,500 beers, the three-day, four-session festival is more of a marathon than a sprint. Even at just one-ounce per taste, that many beers can pose stamina issues. It is for this reason that you should have a plan before going into GABF or any beer-centric festival.

Here are my seven tips for enjoying beer festivals responsibly:

Tip #1: Eat something before the festival.

A carb-heavy meal will help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Think pasta, a burger and fries, a big steak and baked potato or even pancakes. These slow-digesting foods reduce the amount of alcohol that is absorbed directly into the blood stream through the mucous membrane lining of the stomach. Food also slows the rate of the stomach emptying into the small intestine, where absorption of alcohol occurs at a much faster rate.

Tip #2: Drink water.

Experts say that drinking eight-ounces of water for every 12-ounces of beer will help to counteract the diuretic effects of alcohol. The dreaded day-after hangover is at least partially attributable to dehydration caused by alcohol stripping water from your body. Combat this by keeping the water flowing. At a beer festival, make it a point to drink at least four-ounces of water for every four to five samples.

Tip #3: Have a plan.

At events like GABF where there are literally thousands of beers to try, you will miss out on a lot of great beers if you do not get the lay of the land before you arrive at the fest. Check out the festival’s website (for GABF go to www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com), follow organizers on social media or just take a moment to look around before blindly going from table to table. Some of the best beers will be in short supply, so if you see a brewery whose beers you absolutely must try, get in their line first. But, do not pass up smaller breweries, often the next big think comes from these up and coming brewers.

Tip #4: Pace yourself.

Sure, you only have a limited amount of time to try as many beers as you can. But, remember this is a tasting event, not a drunk fest. No one likes the belligerent fool that stumbles from table to table only to get as much beer as possible. Follow the plan you made for yourself from the previous tip and enjoy tasting different beers. You will have a better time and, though you may not get to all the beers, you are likely to find some new favorites.

Tip #5: Take Notes.

Because you may find your new all-time favorite beer, keep track of the brews you drink. Nothing is worse than getting home after a festival and not being able to remember the name of that awesome brew from the brewer in West Virginia. Apps like Untappd are invaluable for festivals since they allow you to log, rate and even take a photo or and take notes on the beers you try.

Tip #6: Bring cash.

Often beer fests will have food trucks, t-shirt vendors and other shopping opportunities. Do not find yourself unable to buy that must-have t-shirt or hat because the vendor only takes cash. Even if they do take credit cards, paying in cash is invariably faster, leaving you more time to taste beers.

Tip #7: Get home safe.

The best evening at a beer festival can be brought to a screeching halt if you get behind the wheel of a car after drinking too much. Believe me, I know (read my experience with this beginning here). Most festivals have a lower price ticket for designated drivers that include soft drinks. If that is not an option, plan on taking a cab or even Uber (get $20 off your first Uber ride when you download the app and use promo code, “l2jkr”).

Follow these seven tips and you are sure to have a great time exploring the ever expanding world of craft beer.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 18, 2015 in Beer Festival

 

Tags: , , , ,

Countdown to the Great American Beer Festival: Coverage Plan

gabf2015Three years ago when I attended the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) for the first time as a member of the press I wrote of the event in hallowed terms:

There was a definite buzz in the air 30 minutes before the doors opened for Session 1 of the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. In the lobby on the Colorado Convention Center eager beer enthusiasts were lined up awaiting the dropping of the ropes for entry into the main exposition hall. While inside the hall, breweries, volunteers, and press were busily preparing for the onslaught. In a word, it was magical.

This year, three years older, three years wiser, I intend to cover the event again using a variety of media. With the advance of technology, I want to provide coverage through my blog, but also in more advanced ways like live Tweeting/Facebooking, Periscope — a live video streaming service accessed through Twitter — and targeted video interviews and coverage.

To that end, be sure to follow all of my social media accounts as I will be covering the GABF as well as the many satellite events that take place in and around Denver during that week. In case you do not already follow all of them, here is a list:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/springfield.brewcrew

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SPRBrewCrew

Instagram: https://instagram.com/mwisdom562/

You can also follow the times of events by going to the Events page of my website; www.JaxBeerGuy.com.

Keep an eye open over the next few weeks as I will add my itinerary for the festival and other events along with schedules for live streaming video via Periscope broadcast on Twitter. But, also watch for pop-up interviews via Periscope as I make connections with the movers and shakers at the event.

As of now, my schedule as only a few items on it, but as GABF draws closer, more events will be added to the list. Keep in mind that all times are presented in Mountain Daylight Time for Eastern Daylight Time add two hours.

Thursday, September 24

3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.                    Deschutes-Harpoon Special Event

5:15 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.                  The Great American Beer Festival, Session 1

Friday, September 25                   

8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.                     The Oskar Blues Ordeal – Tours and Tastings at Oskar Blues facilities throughout Colorado.

5:15 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.                  The Great American Beer Festival, Session 2

Saturday, September 26              

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.                The Great American Beer Festival Competition Awards

12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.                  The Great American Beer Festival, Session 3

Again, as I nail down interviews and other events during the festival, I will update the schedule.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Beer

 

Tags: , , , ,

Great American Beer Festival tickets to go on sale next week

gabfvolunteer2

Photo credit: greatamericanbeerfestival.com

It is the time of year when all beer-lovers begin thinking about heading for the mountains. No, not the mountains referred to in the slogan for the famous macro-lager, the mountains of Denver, Colo. for the annual Great American Beer Festival. Now in its 34th year, the festival is considered by many to be the greatest in the world and with nearly 3,500 beers to taste from over 800 breweries, it is not hard to see why it has this distinction.

Tickets for the festival have sold out in minutes for each of the last six year, so organizers suggest you make your ticket-purchasing plans early. Tickets are priced at $80 for the general public and $75 for Brewers Association or Homebrewers Association members. Tickets for the members only session on Saturday, September 26 are $65. Member ticket sales begin Tuesday, July 28 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Public ticket sale begins Wednesday, July 29 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Those seeking to attend this year’s festivities are instructed to go directly to Ticketmaster.com to purchase tickets and expedite the sales process. It is also suggested that ticket-seekers log in to Ticketmaster early as tickets will undoubtedly go fast.

The festival is to be held at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver on:

Thursday, September 24: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Friday, September 25: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 26*: 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

*Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association members-only session

Saturday, September 26: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

This year the event is expanding by an additional 90,000 square feet to allow for greater attendance and an enhanced experience. New this year is a Meet the Brewers area with breweries that have commited to have brewery staff manning their booths for the entire festival. In addition, with more space, more breweries and more chefs in 2015, GABF’s Farm to Table Pavilion is getting a new name: paired. paired will feature 21 chefs from nine states, including five James Beard Award nominees and two Food and Wine Best New Chefs, each personally plating their dishes for guests and talking about their dynamic pairings. In addition, the exclusive craft beers served in paired are available only in this pavilion and not in the festival hall.  As in previous years, a separate ticket ($145) is required for entrance. paired tickets are available exclusively to members of the American Homebrewers Association and the Brewers Association and as such, can only be purchased during the members only sale on July 28.

General admission tickets entitle guests to:

  • Commemorative tasting cup
  • One-ounce samples of your choice of more than 3,500 beers
  • Festival guide and free app to help attendees navigate the festival hall
  • Access to attend dozens of educational seminars across all four sessions, focused on beer appreciation

For more information visit: www.GreatAmericanBeerFestival.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Beer Festival

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,