The 2012 Great American Beer Festival drew 49,000 attendees to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on Oct. 10-12.
The festival is the largest commercial beer competition in the world, and for craft beer enthusiasts, it’s heaven.
I was able to go as an entrant in the 2012 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition, thanks to Ghost River Brewing and the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs homebrew club. I had a brewer’s pass and was able to go all three days.
At the festival, I tried as many beers as possible, but ultimately one can only sample of fraction of what’s on tap. More than 2,700 beers were served by 578 breweries in the festival hall.
Among my new favorites: Alpine Beer Co.’s Duet, a West Coast IPA; Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s Wookey Jack, an American-Style Black Ale; Redrock Brewing Co.’s Redrock Organic Zwickel Bier; and Laurelwood Brewing Co.’s Organic Deranger Imperial Red Ale.
The sample glasses at GABF have a line showing the 1-ounce mark. The festival is fairly strict about pouring just an ounce, but the pours did get more liberal as the festival went on.
At GABF, you can’t bring in food unless you are wearing it, so you see a lot of people with homemade pretzel necklaces. There were also people wearing bagels, Funyuns and even bags of beef jerky!
The layout in the festival hall is divided up by region. I spent a lot of time hitting up the California breweries, including one of my favorites, Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse.
One of the highlights for me? Getting to meet Charlie Papazian, who founded the Association of Brewers and the Great American Beer Festival and wrote The Complete Joy of Home Brewing.
Beers from San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery, which is known for its cans and sweet designs, were pretty popular at GABF.
I’ve spent some time in the Silent Disco at Bonnaroo, so I skipped it at GABF. But there was always a long line to get in. The concept is this: it’s a disco where people dance to music via wireless headphones. Fun to watch from the outside.
He’s with the idiot.
The Designated Driver Lounge offered DDs free chair massages and the opportunity to taste craft-brewed sodas and root beers.
San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. didn’t win any medals for its beers. But the brewery’s booth, a popular destination at the festival, won the GABF Festival Flair Award for its awesome design.
One of the cooler sites at GABF — the 30-foot wall of T-shirts for sale. I picked up shirts from New Belgium Brewing and Boulder Beer.
The Beer Enthusiast Bookstore had a nice selection of homebrewing books and featured a full slate of book signings all three days, including authors Charlie Papazian, Garrett Oliver, John Palmer, Ray Daniels and Greg Koch.
Porter’s Pride, an imperial porter with chocolate, was brewed as part of a collaboration of Colorado breweries exclusively for the GABF awards ceremony.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, one of the founders of the original Wynkoop Brewing Company brewpub, spoke at the awards ceremony.
I met up with a monkey in a spacesuit and Abraham Lincoln, who were representing 21st Amendment.
Woo hoo! Hope to make it back to GABF soon!