Want to hit Great American Beer Festival and live to tell the tale? Before you jump into the arena, these pros have spent their fare share of time in the craft beer ring. The Eater advice? Follow their advice. Eater sought the knowledgeable drinkers in the craft beer world to share their advice on how to survive GABF whole (with liver intact). Here's what they have to say.
Hanna Laney, word nerd at Great Divide Brewing Company - in haiku:
Hydrate, friends, prepare,
Be kind to those who pour beer,
Build good karma, buzz.
PJ Hoberman, head honcho of Denver booze blog Denver off the Wagon: My advice: 'Pace yourself.' The quotation marks are imperative here. Some people say, it's a marathon, not a sprint. I disagree. This is a marathon that you sprint. So when you have that first Bloody at 10am, remember you're having some whiskey at 2am, and pace yourself to handle the day. Remember, the party is not just in the festival hall, the entire city drinks this week."
Jensen Cummings, executive chef of Row 14, certified cicerone: Have a plan! If you walk in to GABF like a kid in a candy store, you will get gobbled up. Pick a dozen breweries and/or beers that you want to try and attack them. Then, just hold onto your knickers and have fun! Oh, and make sure you don't drop your glass...even though it is plastic. Just do yourself a favor and hold on tight.
Andy Sparhawk, craft beer program coordinator and certified cicerone: The great thing about craft beer is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. With the GABF the size that it is, I'll keep it simple. One: don't wait in line for the 'it' brewers if the line is long, find the 'it' brewery that people will be clamoring for next year. Two: above all else, craft beer and the Great American Beer Festival is meant to be fun, be nice to your fellow beer lovers and savor the flavor.
Bess Dougherty, brewer at Wynkoop Brewing Company: First off make sure to eat before the festival or you will be in a world of hurt. Also ask around and find out which breweries other festival goers and volunteers are impressed with. In my experience word spreads fast about new interesting delicious brews. By asking around its usually easy to find what names are popping up making it easier to find and taste the next delicious thing before they get too popular and the lines get too long or they run out of beer, The best example of this from last year is Destihl Brewing.
Justin Lloyd, Owner and Operator of Star Bar: First, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Rest up, take your vitamins, drink more water than you thought you could, eat, eat some more. Second, that $50 ticket covers a complete and glorious experience. Soak it in, walk around, search things, talk to people. You should never "attack" the festival with the idea of "I'am getting my $50 worth plus!" You still want tone a functioning member of the craft beer community after - tons of great post fest events to check out. Lastly, don't drive.
Billy Broas, founder of Billy Brew, homebrewer's blog: To me, the beer list is the key to unlocking GABF glory. It will be released to the public on Thursday. Take out your favorite highlighter and get to work. Planning your beers ahead of time will save you from a year of regret.
Sean Buchan, Beer Photographer: GABF week is absolutely crazy. No city has any right to the number of beer events that Denver has scheduled for this week, so flying by the seat of your pants isn't a viable option - unless you're fine with the crushing weight of regret when you realize the beer lists you've missed. Formulate a game plan with the acknowledgment that you may not stick to all of it. Denver off the Wagon has put together a ridiculous calendar with every GABF and Denver Beer Festival event. Use it.
· All GABF Coverage [EDen]
Great Divide Beer Truck [Photo: Courtesy of the Great Divide Brewery]