Every fall Denver Colorado becomes the epicenter of good beer in the United States for a couple of days. The Great American Beer Fest is the biggest and best collection of brewers in one place, probably anywhere in the world. The festival has grown since 1983, when a measly three awards were handed out—two to Chico, California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and one to San Francisco’s Anchor. Today some 800 breweries bring over 3800 beers to Denver to be judged across almost 100 categories and, the best part, of course, is that beer nerds can bounce from brewery to brewery, sampling to their hearts content. They just better remember to buy a ticket.
The Brewer’s Association, the trade group that represents craft brewers, announced just yesterday that tickets will go on sale August 1 for its members and August 2 for the general public. The festival runs from October 5 through October 7. Sure, all those dates seem like a long way off, but last year the festival sold out in 67 minutes, so if you aren’t ready to pick up your tickets right away, chances are good you’ll miss out. If you want to get in on early ticket purchases you have to sign up for a membership to either the Brewer’s Association or the American Homebrewers Association by July 23. Otherwise you’ll be buying tickets along with the rest of the unwashed masses. If the GABF feels a little overwhelming (and it can be), in March Denver plays host to the smaller, but perhaps more creative, Collaboration Fest, where brewers from around the country team up to create unique, one-off brews unavailable anywhere else.
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If you’re a real beer diehard, you’re undoubtedly already girding your stomach for both mass tastings, but regardless, you should get booking your trips to Denver post haste.