Thousands Line Up for the First Pour of Beerfest

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Posted Thu, Oct 31, 2013

 

Line Up! Oskar Blues Brewery is one of the most popular booths every year at GABF. [Photo by Ashley Hattle]

DENVER–Barley and hops were on everyone’s mind as they waited for hours outside the Convention Center for the 17th Annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF.)  A line a half-mile long extended around the building as thousands of people came to partake.

To most GABF is not just a festival it’s a ritual.  People come to discover new beers but keep coming back for the atmosphere.  Surrounded by brew of all styles and flavors a beer lover feels at home.

“It’s just a great festival and atmosphere,” said Jeremiah Boies, a seven year GABF veteran.  “We have a path carved out and know where to go first.  We have our evening already planned out and it’s just a good time.”

Breweries from around the country and even Canada travel to Denver each year to showcase their beer.  Each brewery is encouraged to submit one beer to the judges panel.  At the Saturday session the judges deliberate and hand out awards.  For breweries this can be make it or break it.

Every year brings more beer and more bodies.

Every year brings more beer and more bodies. [Photo by Ashley Hattle]

There are so many beers to try at the festival that it’s overwhelming.  It’s difficult for guests to remember which beer they liked at which brewery.  The awards ceremony is what helps guests decide what to buy off the shelves in stores for the next year.  For newer breweries this can create a huge spike in sales.

“This is the best national exposure you can get as a brewery,” said Sam Riggins of Nebraska Brewing Co.  “Everybody’s here.  People come around from around the country and have the chance to try your beers that wouldn’t have the chance to try your beers otherwise.  If you do well here, you absolutely get noticed.”

Each year GABF has three sessions, Thursday and Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  Thursday and Friday sessions inevitably turn into a drunk-fest but Saturday is more for the beer connoisseur that wants to taste the beer not chug it.

Bo Johnson and Randy and Andrea Freeland of Highlands Ranch got into the GABF spirit by miming through the Friday night session.

Bo Johnson and Randy and Andrea Freeland of Highlands Ranch got into the GABF spirit by miming through the Friday night session. [Photo by Ashley Hattle]

GABF is also an opportunity to dress up in costumes that are easily recognizable.  So many people attend every year that when a group gets separated, the crazier the outfit the easier they are to find.  This year had mimes, Waldos, superheroes, and even a few Austin Power’s “Fat Bastards.”

Avery Pours Avery IPA.  Adam Avery poured his own brews at the Avery Brewing Co. booth.

Avery Pours Avery IPA. Adam Avery poured his own brews at the Avery Brewing Co. booth. [Photo by Ashley Hattle]

There are some breweries that are already so popular that the lines to their booths back up very quickly during the festival.  The owner of Avery Brewery, Adam Avery, even made an appearance at the Avery booth.  For a few hours of the Friday night session Avery himself poured each drink causing beer fanatics to line up to meet the face behind the brew.

“It’s a blast and you get to try as many beers as you want all in one place without having to travel the world,” said Jonathan Harrelson two-time GABF veteran.

As the beer ran out and the crowds thinned GABF came to an end leaving everyone excited for the next Great American Beer Festival.  Breweries loaded their empty kegs and the aroma of barley and hops lingered teasing visitors to come again next year and try it all over again.

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Ashley Hattle

About Ashley Hattle

Ashley Hattle is a senior at Metropolitan State University (MSU). In high school, Hattle worked for the school newspaper, The Blazer, as the Executive Photo Editor and Lifestyles Editor. After high school she pursued a career in photography and attended the Art Institute of Colorado. After the Art Institute she quickly began working for a photography company in Denver. Through working as a photographer in Denver she re-found her love of journalism and has been a magazine journalism major at MSU since 2010. Hattle hopes to work as a journalist and photographer after graduation in May 2014.

View all posts by Ashley Hattle

2 Responses to “Thousands Line Up for the First Pour of Beerfest”

  1. Keve Brockington Says:

    Great story Ashley. I like your photography as well. The story reads as if you were at the event. There is one sentence I noticed that may need editing: [People come around from around the country and have the chance to try your beers] Good job!

    Reply

  2. Luke Whittaker Says:

    Great story, love the pictures! GABF looks like a lot of fun.

    Reply

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