5 Reasons You Should Book Your Trip to the Great American Beer Festival

June 28th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Events, Washington Breweries

Tony Savoy of Flyers Brewery at GABF in 2008.

Tickets for the Great American Beer Festival go on sale this week; today if you are an AHA member, and Thursday for the general public. 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of the festival, and this year promises to be bigger than ever. If you have never been, following are five reasons to snatch up tickets (which will sell out) and book your flight.

1)     450+ breweries and 2,200+ beers – The size of this event is really hard to grasp until you walk onto the GABF floor for the first time and see an enormous convention center packed full of breweries giving out samples. I stopped in my tracks the first time I walked through the doors, and then quickly remembered why I was there and grabbed a sample. Even though there are huge crowds, lines to get beer typically are not too bad and many booths you can walk right up to.

2)      Amazing Beers – While some breweries do just bring their standard lineup of beers, others pull out all the stops and bring many impressive rarities. My first year, I recall that Alaskan Brewing had brought a 9-year vertical of their Smoked Porter that they poured over the course of three days. Heaven. Other rarities I recall tasting over the years include Lost Abbey Cable Car, Sam Adams Utopias (without buying a $100 bottle), multiple Russian River rarities, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. The big brewers even get in on the fun – one year I sampled a Blue Moon Peanut Butter Blonde. Even for the breweries that bring standard beers, chances are you’ve never tried most of them before. It’s safe to say you won’t even come close to sampling everything you’d like to.

3)      Colorado is a great beer state– Along with the northwest and California, Colorado has been making great craft beer as long as anyone. New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Left Hand, Avery, and Great Divide (in Denver) are just the start of the list. Take at least one day and explore some breweries outside of Denver.

4)      Support Washington beer – Quite a few WA breweries send beer to the competition and to be poured on the GABF floor, and many local brewers make the trip to pour themselves and meet the general public. It always puts a smile on their face if someone in a WABL or WA beer t-shirt walks up to their table to grab a sample. You’ll also meet a lot of random people over the weekend, and you can tip them to your favorites.

5)       It’s a blast – Aside from the festival, Denver is full of beer geeks for the weekend and local breweries and bars pour special beers, host special events, and just throw a good party. Definitely give yourself time to explore the city. Tough to come up with a better destination for a getaway trip with friends.

The only downside to the festival, at least in my eyes, can be the crowds. Our itinerary usually has us going to the festival on Thursday night and then Saturday afternoon (AHA/BA members only), both of which are a bit less hectic than the Friday and Saturday night sessions, which can get a bit crazy.


3 Comments so far ↓

  • flop

    Flights booked and tickets purchased! Another option for folks to look at down there is the Denver Rare Beer Tasting fundraiser for Pints for Prostate. Ticket is on the high end, but a great cause: http://www.pintsforprostates.org/?p=797

  • Dean Ruffner

    FWIW, I just booked our hotel room(s) and for rooms close to the Colorado Convention Center, they are going fast.

  • clemetson

    Got my room and waiting for Ticketmaster to let me purchase the Thursday night tickets. Reason 6 – the mighty Cougars duke it out Saturday a short drive away for an epic battle of Pac-12 powerhouses.

Leave a Comment