Great American Beer Festival Takes Over Denver, with Plenty of Bay Area Contenders

Brian Yaeger
S.F. beer geek Jason Henry volunteering at the Cascade Brewing booth at last year's GABF.
​Thursday marks the beginning of the three-day, mind-blowing, liver-busting, gut-expanding extravaganza known as the Great American Beer Festival, now in its 29th year. Sponsored by the Brewers Association, the celebration of American enterprise and brewing expertise hosts 462 brewers this year, all under one roof ― the Denver Convention Center. (If you don't already have tickets, don't book that flight. This year, for the first time ever, it's 100 percent booked in pre-sale.)

The assembled American breweries will pour roughly 2,200 different beers; once you're inside, the sampling is unlimited! Attendees are given sample glasses large enough to hold ONE ounce of beer. You'd die trying to sample every beer on the floor, since 2,200 ounces is 137.5 pints, meaning you'd have to consume over 45 pints per day. And then keep in mind that a good percentage of them are double IPAs or barrel-aged barleywines that easily top 10 percent ABV.

Roughly 80 craft breweries from California will be pouring and competing for awards in 79 categories ranging from everyday American Light Lagers and Hefeweizens to seasonal or exotic styles like Field/Pumpkin beers and Wood-Aged Sour beers. So stay tuned for the expected large medal count from local purveyors ― proof that those of us in Northern California don't have to travel to Denver to enjoy the good stuff year round.

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