This year, the mammoth fest features approximately 800 breweries and over 3800 beers from which to choose. Brewers entered their beers in the medal competition a while ago, and, after the judges taste all of the beers, GABF will announce the Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists in 96 beer categories (along with additional sub-categories).
Last year was my first time attending GABF. I had a game plan and did some early research. Whether it's your first or tenth time, you know you can't drink all the beer (trust me), so whether you use the GABF mobile app, the online site, or the printed maps, it's best to have an agenda (at least start out with one). Make sure your shoes are comfortable, you drink plenty of water, and you eat along the way. Other than that, soak it all in and enjoy! Although I won't be in Denver this weekend, I'll be following the competition results on Saturday, and all of us in Florida will be looking for some Florida beers to bring home the hardware! Two Florida breweries earned medals last year: AARDWOLF BREWING (Jacksonville; Bronze Medal for Belgian Pale Ale) and BREW BUS BREWING (Tampa; Silver Medal for You're My Boy Blue Blueberry Wheat). Based on the GABF website, 21 Florida breweries will be among those 800 breweries sampling beers at this year's fest.
Here's my excerpted recap from last year (Confessions of a GABF Virgin) when I attended the opening night Thursday session and the members Saturday afternoon session:
|Breweries arranged by geographic location, Brewpub Pavilion,|
Homebrew Marketplace, Beer Geek Bookstore, Merchandise, Brewers Guilds
So many breweries, so many beers. Overall, for as many people in attendance, the lines were generally very manageable, almost non-existent, and you were able to walk past the tables and read the beer descriptions. Of course, there were a few breweries that always seemed to have lines that spanned across the aisle, including Allagash, Wicked Weed, and one certain South Florida brewery:
|Guess they wanted to Get Funky (Last Snow and more).|
You would've thought they were giving it away.....
|These guys took home a few medals....|
|Big crowds here|
|Randy Mosher, author of "Tasting Beer"|
The highlight of my Thursday night, however, was meeting Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer, at the Bookstore. I knew ahead of time (pre-planned!) when he would be there, and I had brought my copy of the book with me. This book was instrumental in helping me study for -- and pass -- the Certified Cicerone exam this summer, and it's been through the study-wringer: tabs and marked up. I showed it to Randy, and he even took a photo of me! Very cool talking with him. He autographed my book, and that was pretty cool! If you're planning on studying for the Certified Cicerone exam, this one's a must-read. Thanks, Randy!
That was pretty much Day 1 at GABF!
|Recognize them? Florida Brewers Guild|
The Brewers' Guilds were set up along a wall in the "Meet the Brewer Hall." Not only could you talk to the reps, but they were pouring some beers that were not available in the Main Hall. And, they did a really cool thing with a Brewers Guild Passport. Check-in to at least six, and you got a koozie! I talked to a bunch of the Guild reps, and got my passport stamped by nine, including closest (Florida) and farthest (Hawaii). It was fun talking to the rep from Indiana, and I got another Three Floyds beer there, too!
|Wyoming had some interesting animal photos...and captions!|
And, there probably aren't too many places where you can talk to Brewers Guilds, and then, just steps away, run into a character like the Yeti from Great Divide Brewing:
|He's real...... Having a Chocolate Yeti with, well......|
|Hey, that's a Jax Ale Trail shirt!|
And, 2017 will be here before you know it, so put this on your calendars: October 5-7, 2017, because that's when GABF happens next year. Tickets will go on sale in early August.
I may not be in Denver this year, but I will be attending a couple of Florida fests. Cheers, everyone! See you at a beerfest!
Til next time,