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Great American Beer Festival – Sept. 24-26

Submitted by on September 1, 2009 – 1:06 PMNo Comment
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About 50,000 people will be making their way to Denver, Colorado from September 24 to September 26 for the 28th annual Great American Beer Festival.

The Brewers Association first held the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in 1982 and has held the festival every year since then.  They originally started with only 22 breweries, 20 beers, and 800 attendees.  This year, there will about 18,000 gallons of beer on site and over 2,000 beers from over 450 breweries on tap.  The Guinness Book of World Records has previously dubbed the GABF the record holder for the most beers tapped in one location.

The 2009 GABF is expected to be the biggest festival to date.  As a result of this, the hall has been expanded to accommodate more breweries and attendees.  Julia Herz, craft beer program director of the Brewers Association, said since the first GABF, America has become the largest leading beer nation in the world with the largest selection of beers.

“The festival has helped to advance education behind beer made by small and independent craft brewers (over 90% of the 1,500 breweries in the U.S. are small and independent).”

Aside from the beer tasting, the GABF is also offering a three-day competition. Judges from around the globe will be sampling beers that are submitted in each category.  This year, there are judges from the U.S., Canada, UK, Belgium, Cayman Islands, Singapore, Czech Republic, Australia, and Japan. “Any commercially produced beer in the U.S. can be entered. The brewers designate which category they wish their beer to be judged in,” Herz said.

The samples are unnamed so that the judging is acompletely unbiased.  Winners are selected by meeting the judges’ special criteria. Only then, will they be awarded a gold medal, a silver medal, and a bronze medal.  Three beers are chosen every year and are recognized as symbols of brewing excellence around the world.  This year, there will be at least 78 categories being judged at the festival.

In addition to the beer competition, there are educational offerings and other events at the festival.  The Silent Disco and the Pro-Am Competition are certainly crowd favorites.  The Pro-Am calls upon professional craft brewers and their award winning homebrew recipes.  In 2008, there were 58 entries in the Pro-Am competition.  As of now, the Brewers Association already has 77 entries for the 2009 competition.  This year, there will be two pavilions featuring private tastings, beer and food pairing demonstrations, cooking demos, and panel discussions.  Herz informed Bier Magazine that this year there will be a “Farm to Table” pavilion which will feature chefs, farmers, and brewers.  This pavilion will be limited to 250 attendees on Thursday and Friday evening.

In support of the GABF, Denver will be hosting Denver Beer Fest from September 18 to September 27.  All around Denver, there will be beer tastings, brewery tours, “meet the brewer” nights, beer inspired meals, beer tappings, and much more!