Before I moved to Denver, I preferred wine or mixed drinks. Beer was rarely ever on my radar before Denver: my earliest memory of beer was when I was a kid and noticed one of my uncles loved drinking Budweiser. I snuck a taste of the beer and immediately went, “Blech!” So ever since then, I wasn’t interested in beer…
…until I moved to Denver. I didn’t know beforehand that Colorado was very proud of its craft beer culture, but once I started making more friends in Denver, I discovered the diverse world of beer. I met Adrienne Rinaldi, aka Beer Snob Chick, and started attending Brew Asanas (yoga & beer events organized by Adrienne); I gradually went to more networking events and experienced many more varieties of beer; and then finally, I met my boyfriend, Ryan.
Ryan enjoys a good IPA but loves trying other kinds of beer out as well. I discovered early last year that I, in fact, could not stomach IPAs as well as I’d thought, so these days, I stick to porters, lighter ales, and recently discovered sour beer. Yum!
I remember last year, Ryan had complained about how the tickets for the Great American Beer Festival (aka GABF, #GABF) had sold out within minutes of going on sale. He had wanted to go with a couple of his friends, but to no avail. When the ticket dates were announced for this year’s GABF, we banded together and attempted to get tickets. I sat at the computer at 10am in late July, ready to get tickets no matter what; after all, I love a good challenge! The Ticketmaster website was slow and it *seemed* like tickets were all gone, but I kept hitting ‘refresh’ and finally got to reserve two tickets. Exciting!
So as a belated birthday treat for Ryan, I bought the tickets for us to attend GABF. I didn’t think much about any ‘prep’ until the week before, and kept hearing about pretzel necklaces from others, but Ryan and I received mixed messages about whether we were to bring our own pretzel necklaces or to just bring our own yarn to string pretzels onto at the festival.
We attended GABF on Thursday, September 24th, which was the first day of the festival. Luckily we both had the day off (and the next day!), so we could enjoy the evening with no worries about the next day. We were already downtown pretty early and decided to start lining up around 3:30pm; as it turned out, many other people were already lined up for the doors to open as well. As the crowd grew larger, we realized we made the mistake of NOT bringing our own pretzel/food necklaces: we saw a large array of necklace combinations from other attendees, including necklaces with beef jerky sticks, cheese sticks, and even some fast food hamburgers!
Once the bagpipes started up around 5:30pm, we were one of the first attendees inside. Despite downloading the GABF app beforehand, we at first didn’t have much of a strategy and just approached one row of breweries and sampled all the beers down the line. After that round, we decided to be more strategic and hit up breweries from other states such as Virginia and Indiana before hitting up Colorado breweries. I definitely enjoyed a lot of the sour beers I tried! There were quite a few pumpkin beers and also chile pepper beers.
Some of my favorite beers from the evening:
- Boonelinerwiesse from Appalachian Mountain Brewery of Boone, North Carolina
- Sour Saison from Ocelot Brewing of Sterling, Virginia
- Huck’s Habanero Wheat from Mark Twain Brewing Company of Hannibal, Missouri
- Madeline La Framboise from Brugge Brasserie of Indianapolis, Indiana
Of course, all the Colorado beers were fantastic. We even tried cannabis-infused beer from Dude’s Brews Co.! Alas, we couldn’t try EVERY beer there (we think it’s near impossible for ANYONE to do that, even if they attended all three days!).
Despite there being so many attendees, we ran into a handful of familiar faces as some of our friends were also attendees or volunteers pouring the beer samples. We were happy to finally catch our friend Jared at the name.com booth at the end of the night; he was busy filming video montages at the festival for name.com, such as this video about all the beards at GABF:
Overall, the night was so much fun! We were happy to have the opportunity to attend GABF and hope to attend (or volunteer) in the coming years.
Yay for beer!