Rumor has it that despite not selling out in an hour (like previous years), the Great American Beer Fest still anticipates hosting more than 60,000 people this weekend in its 36th year hosting the event.
Thursday night kicked off the first session of the three-day beer tasting event with a calmer approach than previous years. The crowds should be rambunctious and enthusiastic by the time the gates open at this evening’s session. The event is sold out, but brewery fans that aren’t in attendance will have plenty of time to dive into the winning brews list once they’re announced after the awards ceremony on Saturday. Ticket holders, here’s a look at what to anticipate on Friday and Saturday at the Colorado Convention Center from the 800 breweries in attendance.
Lines form just as quickly as they disperse with fans trying to find the hottest beers of the year. Thursday night featured some undeniable stretches of fans waiting for once-a-year kegs to be tapped or even just to sip a brew they’ve been following leading up to this event. Here’s a few that last night’s attendees were willing to wait to sip:
- Modern Times — “We’ve been tracking them for a while. They have a great selection of beer this year for GABF. They’re located out of San Diego and we’re just hoping to try them all,” says beer enthusiast Jason Huddy, who had been standing in line for what seemed like a while.
- Funky Buddha — The line for this Florida-based brewery curved as its length was exceptionally long. The brewers say that most people were diving into the Piña Colada keg and the No Crusts keg, which is their version of a crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- Melvin Brewing — This Jackson Hole, Wyoming, brewery was the life of the party. Crowds formed not only for a taste of the Uncle Ruckus beer, but the short school bus oufitted with a DJ spinning some fan favorites while brewers were pouring and dancing.
- Weldworks Brewing — Based out of Greely, Colorado, Weldworks Brewing had a consistent line of 30 to 40 people at any given time. The most popular brew here was the Extra Juicy Bits, a New England-style double IPA. This nearly three-year-old brewery has high hopes for its future after receiving so much praise and positive feedback since opening.
- Bells Brewery — This Michigan-based brewery is known for the Roadhouse beer and the Kiwi Club Gose both being poured at this year’s GABF event. Lines were consistently long and the buzz between brewers and beer enthusiasts alike was positive and trending.
Not only were there long lines at popular breweries, but for cheese. A line full of switchbacks contained hungry beer fans who wanted to get their hands on a few samples provided by the American Cheese Society, who return tonight and Saturday morning. Another newer addition this year is the silent disco hosted by Oskar Blues Brewery — honestly, who doesn’t love a good silent disco?
Those who find themselves without enough hands can head over to Yard House for a free coozie-necklace, which perfectly holds a tasting glass so drinkers can spend more time noshing on a pretzel necklace or dancing around from line to line. Lastly, be sure to stop by the Uber stand for $5 of two rides during GABF, because it’s better to always be safe then ever drive home drunk.