Heading to the Great American Beer Festival this year? Check out these insider tips on 5 really rad things that you probably didn’t know you could find inside of the fest.
It’s that time of year again. Time to bust out your lederhosen, dust off that half-eaten pretzel necklace stashed in the pocket, and dip into your kids’ college funds so that you can drop a boatload of money to make the pilgrimage to the Great American Beer Festival — the World Series of beer drinking. But if you think this iconic beer fest, which is currently in its 36th year of destroying livers in the state of Colorado, is all high-ABV beers and humiliating people with butterfingers, you’ve got another thing coming this year. Prepare yourself for one hell of a beer fest this October by studying up on these five awesome things you probably didn’t know you could find at the Great American Beer Festival.
Free Food. This is not a joke. You shelled out a couple hundred bucks for a flight to Denver, a pretty penny on lodging for the weekend, and $85 on a coveted ticket into the festival, but did you know that once you make it into the fest, you can give your busted wallet a break? It’s the truth. If you know where to find it, there’s free food all over the Colorado Convention Center during GABF. For starters, there’s a table filled with cheese gloriously mixed into the sea of brewery booths. No strings attached. Just a magnificent spread of complimentary cheese. Turns out, October is American Cheese Month, and the American Cheese Society celebrates every year by serving a massive spread of artisan cheese from cheesemakers and producers across the country at the Great American Beer Festival. You can find this little slice of cheese heaven near the karaoke stage at the back of the festival hall, but be sure to hit this table early on in the evening. Free cheese tends to go quickly in a sprawling event hall full of beer drinkers. Samples of free cheese not enough for you? Then you should hang out in the Beer & Food Pavilion. Here you’ll find expert pairings from chefs and brewers, as well as demonstrations on how to create your own pairings. An ice cream social, charcuterie spreads, slow food and beers from Mexico — you’ll find it all, at no cost, all three days of the fest. Keep this link to the Beer & Food Pavilion’s schedule handy, and take a break from waiting in line to slam taster pours to enjoy some killer food paired with exceptional beer. https://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/at-the-festival/education-presentations/beer-food-pavilion/
Short Lines. This also is not a joke. The Protect Craft Guilds Pavilion is one of the festival’s underutilized areas, and not only will you find shorter lines here, but you’ll also be supporting independently-owned craft breweries and get to sample 178 beers from breweries that are members of 19 different state brewers guilds from across the country. Learn what makes the craft beer scenes in states like Vermont, Michigan, Florida, and Minnesota unique. The best part of this pavilion (aside from promoting independent breweries) is that you’ll have the opportunity to sample brews from up-and-coming breweries not attending the fest this year. Want to learn more about the conversation of why independence is important to the craft beer industry? Don’t miss the Why Independence Matters featured panel on October 6 at 8:30 pm in the Brewers Studio Pavilion to hear from some of the biggest names in independent craft beer speak about what the future holds for independent craft breweries.
You Could Win a Golden Ticket to Have a Private Beer Tasting Tour of GABF. Ever dreamt of drinking beer with brewery celebrities like Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker, Garret Oliver from The Brooklyn Brewery, Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head, Vinne Cilurzo from Russian River Brewing Co. and Rob Tod from Allagash Brewing Company? Well your dreams could just come true this year. Prior to each evening session, two of these celebrated brewery owners will pluck one lucky GABF attendee and their crew from the entry line inside of Hall A for a private tour of the festival before the doors even open. Dress to impress and be on your wildest behavior, and you just might win the golden ticket.
Hardware Hall of Fame. Yep. The Brewers Association went there this year. They rounded up a variety of 2015 Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup winning brews, and they’re pouring them all from one booth. Try some of the most decorated beers created in recent history at this year’s Heavy Medal booth, located in Hall B near Section Y.
Karaoke. Go big or go home, right? What pairs better with copious amounts of alcohol than a karaoke stage? Find this genius festival entertainment in The Backyard section of GABF, along with live music, yard games, and apparently a DJ named Brian.
Get the full schedule of events and a map of the fest at greatamericanbeerfestival.com, or better yet, join the 21st century and download the app…