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GABF 2013 - Denver, Colorado
GABF 2013 - Denver, Colorado

GABF 2013 – Denver, Colorado

Brewery booth
Brewery booth
Kegs & Taps

Following our successful and enjoyable trip to the National Homebrewers Conference in June, which is organized by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), we were very much looking forward to the Brewers Association’s (BA) key event held every year in Denver, Colorado, namely the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

Obtaining tickets back in July had been a mad panic with all 48,000 tickets being sold in well under an hour spread over 2 days – the first day for BA & AHA members only and the second for the general public. GABF was held on Oct 10-12, 2013 with the following sessions:

  • Thursday, October 10, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Friday, October 11, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Saturday, October 12*, 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Saturday, October 12, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm

* Members Only Session.

We opted for the Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon sessions which cost $75 and $65 per ticket respectively.

First Session – Thursday evening

In line & almost there!
In line & almost there!

For the first session we turned up at 4:45pm to find that the line went half way round the Colorado Convention Center, luckily time past very quickly as we chatted to the fellow craft beer fans and pro-brewers standing nearby us. Once the doors opened the line moved quickly as the organizers had people checking ID’s and scanning tickets at the entrance.

Once inside the first stop was to get our plastic sampler glass which had a 1oz line as that was the maximum pour amount. We then spent the next 4.5 hours visiting the different brewery booths that were arranged by region:

  • Brew Pubs
  • Great Lakes
  • Mid Atlantic
  • Mid West
  • Mountain
  • New England
  • Pacific
  • Pacific NW
  • South East
  • South West

In addition to the above there was a Pro-Am section containing beers that were collaborations between Homebrewers and Professional Breweries where the Homebrewer designed the recipe and the Professional Breweries made the beer. The range was very diverse and the quality of beers was excellent.

John Palmer - Brewing Expert
John Palmer
Brewing Expert & Author

During the Thursday session we managed to sample approximately 90 beers between us covering every region, many different brewers, and across a range of styles, strengths (ABV) and colors (SRM). We also had the opportunity to chat with the brewers, volunteers, fellow craft beer fans and the occasional brewing guru such as John Palmer who has written a number of very successful books including the top selling How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time and the recently released Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements). John regularly appears on the Brew Strong show on The Brewing Network.

To help pace ourselves we ensured that we ate well before going to the conference and during the event we kept well hydrated with water. Others wore necklaces of pretzels, cheese sticks and even bagels whilst some chose to fill up on hot dogs, nuts or even complimentary beef jerky – guilty as charged for the latter 🙂

Second Session – Saturday afternoon

GABF sampling glasses
GABF sampling glasses

For our second session, which was for AHA and BA members only, we arrived at 11:15am ready for the noon start to find that even though this session was limited to 8k tickets as opposed to 10k for each of the other 3 sessions, the line was even longer! Once again as soon as the doors opened we were quickly into the convention center collecting our ‘glass’ sampling glass rather than a plastic one.

New Glarus Serendipity
New Glarus Serendipity

For this session our aim was to take in the regions which we had not yet visited and ensure we managed to visit certain key breweries such as New Glarus from Wisconsin that we had on our ‘To Visit’ list in our GABF app for the iPhone (also available on Android). The app was easy to use and included features such as:

  • a list of all Breweries including a brief description and a list of their Beers
  • the ability to rate each beer out of 4 stars, make tasting notes and record the Balance, Alcohol strength and Color
  • add breweries to a My Breweries list and check off each one visited
  • a map of the hall including the regions and where each brewery was located
  • an App Tutorial
  • an export facility to retrieve the breweries visited and beers tasted as a CSV file
Nicole Erny - Master Cicerone
Nicole Erny
(Exam Director &
Master Cicerone)

Whilst going round the hall we stopped by the booth of the Cicerone Certification Program and spoke with Nicole Erny who is their Exam Director and Master Cicerone. There are 3 levels of Cicerone certification that can be achieved through study and taking exams “to designate those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers”:

  • Certified Beer Server
  • Certified Cicerone
  • Master Cicerone

For further details please check out their web site here.

Breweries & Beers

During our second session we managed to sample approximately 80 different beers and below is a list of all the breweries that we visited together with their beers that we sampled (* designates our favorites):

  • 7venth Sun Brewing Company
    • Graffiti Orange
  • Abita Brewing Company
    • Andygator
  • Alaskan Brewing Company
    • Alaskan Amber
    • Alaskan smoked porter
    • Alaskan Winter ale
  • August Schell Brewing Company
    • Schell’s Chimney Sweep*
    • Schell’s Firebrick
    • Schell’s Goosetown
    • Schell’s Oktoberfest
    • Schell’s Pils
  • Backcountry Brewery
    • Imperial Saison
    • Porter
    • Weizenbock
  • Band of Brewers/Coors Archive Brewing
    • Batch 19 Pre Pro Bock – Coors Archive
  • Bear Republic Brewing Company/Factory Five
    • Cher Ami
    • Tartare*
  • BearWaters Brewing Company
    • Mud Bug Chocolate Stout
    • Nana’s Scotch Ale
  • Big Dog’s Brewing Co.
    • Peace, Love, and Hoppiness Pale Ale
    • Seeing Double Doppel Weizenbock
  • Big River Grille and Brewing Works
    • A1A Saison de Florida
    • Ragtime A. Strange Stout
  • Black Tooth Brewing Co
    • Saddle Bronc Brown
    • Shanghai Moon
  • Blackberry Farm Brewery
    • Classic Saison
    • Screaming Cock Dubbel
  • Brewery Rickoli Ltd.
    • Meh!
    • Social Lubricant
  • Brickyard Brewing
    • Brickyard Scotch Ale
    • Masonry Oatmeal Stout
  • Bristol Brewing Company
    • Laughing Lab Scottish Ale
  • Cannonball Creek Brewing Company
    • Brickyard Porter
    • Rosemary Sourdough Saison
  • CAUTION: Brewing Company
    • Card Your Mom Saison
  • CB and Potts Restaurant and Brewery- FT Collins/Highlands Ranch
    • Big Horn Hefeweizen
    • Hell’s Bock
    • High Water Alt Bier
    • Prognosticator*
  • Chicago Brewing Company
    • Wild West Tripel
  • Cigar City Brewing
    • Big Sound Scotch Ale
  • City Star Brewing
    • Berthoud Beet Saison
  • Clear Creek Brewing Co.
    • Bomber Mountain Oatmeal Stout
    • That New Blonde
  • Colorado Boy Brewing Co.
    • Colorado Boy Irish Ale
  • Copper Club Brewing Company
    • Aspen Street Coffee Porter
    • Hoocheweizen
  • Copper Kettle Brewing Company
    • Bavarian Helles Lager
    • Mexican Chocolate Stout
  • Crabtree Brewing Company
    • Extra Sexy Brewer
    • Oatmeal Stout
    • Session North Colorado Pale Ale
  • Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
    • St. Bretta
    • Surette
  • Drake’s Brewing Co
    • Black Robusto Porter
    • Drake’s 1500
    • Two Candles*
  • Dry Dock Brewing Co. – North Dock
    • Hefeweizen
  • Dry Dock Brewing Co. – South Dock
    • Wee Heavy*
  • Epic Brewing Co., Salt Lake City
    • Double Skull Doppelbock Lager
  • Falling Sky Brewing
    • Cloud Break Munich Helles
    • Daywalker Irish Red
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company
    • DBA
    • Union Jack
  • Flat Tail Brewing Co.
    • Humulus Nocta*
    • Poser Weisse
    • Tailgater Kölsch
  • Funkwerks
    • Quad
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
    • Abbey Dubbel
    • Belgian Strong Golden
    • Märzen
    • Winter-Eisbock
  • Grand Teton Brewing Company
    • Bitch Creek ESB
  • Gravity Brewing
    • Barrel Aged Mendacious
    • Louisville Belgian Ale*
  • Great Basin Brewing Company – Reno
    • Outlaw Milk Stout
  • Gunnison Brewery
    • Symbiotic Sour*
  • Hale’s Ales
    • Barrel Aged Gold Rush
    • El Jefe Weizen
    • Hales Rare 30th Anniversary Barleywine
    • Harvest Ale
  • Hall Brewing Company
    • Farmhouse Bock
  • Hangar 24 Craft Brewery
    • 4th Anniversary Ale
    • Alt-Bier Ale
    • Helles Lager
  • Heretic Brewing Company
    • Evil Twin
    • Gramarye
  • High Hops Brewery
    • The Noble One
  • High Sierra Brewing Co., Inc
    • 6 Shooter Espresso Stout
    • Black PussyKat Imperail Stout
    • Buzzed Bee Honey Ale
  • Hogshead Brewery
    • Chin Wag ESB
    • Gilpin Black Gold London Porter
    • Hogshead AK
    • Window Licker Barley Wine
  • Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Company
    • Cafe BORIS Imperial Stout*
    • Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale
  • Ice Harbor Brewing Company
    • Runaway Red Ale
    • Sternwheeler Stout
    • Tangerine ExBEERience Hefeweizen
  • Laurelwood Brewing Co.
    • Deranger Imperial Red Ale
    • Megafauna Imperial IPA
    • Organic Espresso Stout
    • Workhorse India Pale Ale
  • Lucky Bucket Brewing Co
    • Lucky Bucket Certified Evil
    • Lucky Bucket Pre-Prohibition Lager
  • McCoy’s Public House and BrewKitchen
    • blackberry tart
    • Gose
  • Mother’s Brewing Company
    • Fancy Pants
    • Foggy Notion*
    • Raspberry Imperial Three Blind Mice
  • Mustang Brewing Company
    • Imperial Court Stout*
    • Sixty Six
  • New Belgium Brewing Company, Inc.
    • Transatlantique Kriek
    • Wild Dubbel
  • New Glarus Brewing Company
    • Serendipity*
    • Strawberry Rhubarb*
  • Odell Brewing Company
    • Easy Street
    • Fernet Porter
  • Piney River Brewing Co.
    • Black Walnut Wheat
    • Old Tom Porter
    • Sweet Potato Ale
  • Pizza Port Solana Beach
    • Dawn Patrol Dark
    • May the Port Be With You
  • Pumphouse Brewery
    • Red Alert
    • Shockwave Scottish Ale*
    • Wildland Sour*
  • Ram Restaurant & Brewery – Clackamas/Salem
    • Bob Gnarley
  • Ram Restaurant and Brewery – Illinois
    • Barrel-Aged Frostbite Lager*
    • Total Disorder Porter
  • Redrock Brewing Company
    • Redrock Bamberg Rauch Bier
    • Redrock Black Bier
    • Redrock Munich Dunkel
    • Redrock Nut Brown Ale
  • Renegade Brewing Company
    • Beet Saison
  • Reuben’s Brews
    • Robust Porter
    • Roggenbier
  • River North Brewery
    • J. Marie
  • Riverport Brewing Co.
    • 5/5 Pepper Beer
    • River Rat Red
  • Rock Bridge Brewing Co.
    • Occident Coast IPA
    • Saison
    • Tailgate Brown Ale
  • Rockslide Brewing Company
    • Big Bear Stout
  • Santa Clara Valley Brewing
    • Little Orchard Saison
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
    • Madame Grey
  • Saugatuck Brewing Company
    • Bonfire Brown
  • Seabright Brewery
    • Benderbrau
    • Loose Lucy Schotch Ale
    • Morningwood Mild
    • Oatmeal Stout
  • Short’s Brewing Company
    • Bourbon Aphasia
    • Bourbon Woodmaster
  • Six Rivers Brewery
    • Jere’s Chere’
    • Raspberry Lambic Style*
  • Springfield Brewing Company
    • 11 Point Pilsner
    • Aviator Doppel Bock
    • Heart of Darkness Dunkel
  • Summit Brewing Company
    • Great Northern Porter
    • Oktoberfest
    • Pilsener
  • Tallgrass Brewing Company
    • Velvet Rooster
    • Zombie Monkie
  • Tommyknocker Brewery
    • Butthead Bock
    • Cocoa Porter
  • Uinta Brewing Company
    • 20th Birthday Suit*
    • Bristlecone
    • Labyrinth
  • Weasel Boy Brewing Company
    • Anastasia Russian Imperial Stout
    • Snow Ermine Holiday Ale*
  • Zipline Brewing Co.
    • Copper Alt.
    • Oatmeal Porter

* designates our favorites

GABF brewery booths
GABF brewery booths

For those who have not visited GABF we can definitely recommend a visit as it is a great opportunity to taste beers from across North America and also visit numerous breweries situated in and around Denver whilst staying in this great city. Look out for our follow-up article about the breweries Beer Infinity also visited and if you have any comments about this article or your visit to GABF 2013 we would love to to hear them by using the Comments section below.

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