With the crisp fall weather, it’s the ideal time to enjoy a crisp, refreshing beer and while that’s easy to do in Denver, we definitely take it to another level with hosting the Great American Beer Festival (GABF)!
This year, the festival coincides with Denver’s Oktoberfest and is happening September 20 – 22. This three-day festival features about 4,000 beers from 800 breweries across the country – yes, including Hawaii and Alaska! This festival attracts beer enthusiasts from around the country as well.
Rick and I have been fortunate to attend the festival the last few years, both regular sessions and the members only session. If you’re lucky enough to get members only tickets, it’s a great way to attend the festival as there are fewer people, meaning no jostling of my beer or waiting five minutes for a one ounce pour.
Between your beer samples, be sure to check out who’s participating in the beer competition, what’s being served at the beer garden, catch the scores at the sports bar, or dance some of your beer off by visiting the silent disco.
6 tips for visiting for the Great American Beer Festival in Denver:
- Get there early: The line for this thing gets crazy. I mean it. It can wrap around the convention center. I’m pretty sure one year I drove by on my way home from work and people I passed on the road were still in line when Rick and I joined the queue an hour later.
- Use public transportation: If you can get to downtown and walk, that’s a great option, otherwise try to catch the light rail as many lines stop right at the Colorado Convention Center. Ride shares have designated drop-off and pick-up spots. Be sure to have a designated driver back home or hop back on the light rail when you’re done.
- Follow the rules on the website: Can you wear costumes? Yes. Are you limited in what you can bring into the festival in terms of bags and such? Yes. THey have a great infographic on what you can and can’t bring into the festival, and let’s make the line move as quickly as possible by following the rules!
- Download the app: Want to find out who’s serving gluten-free beer/cider? Want to know where a specific brewery is? Want to know where all the great Colorado beers are being served? Use the app to find the right brewers and brews at the GABF.
- Bring snacks and a pretzel necklace: Though you’re sampling beer by the ounce, the beer tasting quickly adds up. Be like the cool kids and make a pretzel necklace for the event! Anything that can be brought in around your neck goes, and we’ve seen people with Slim Jims, slices of bread, and other creative carb-loaded snacks added like beads to their pretzel necklaces.
- Take a break: Pace yourself, there are literally thousands of beer available at the event and most sessions are four hours or longer. Take your time during your tastings, get some water (they have free water stations and you’re allowed to bring a clear, reusable 32 oz. plastic water bottle), and take some drink breaks – perhaps dance it out at the silent disco before heading off to another state to see what beers they’re producing.
As of this posting, they still have tickets for Thursday’s session available. Otherwise, be sure to get online right away when tickets go on sale next year to guarantee a Friday or Saturday night admission.