The 2018 Great American Beer Festival —popularly known as the GABF—is now open.
Today is the first of four different sessions taking place over three days—Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the latter of which has two different sessions—and as with past festivals, this year’s event is being held at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. This year’s GABF will see an estimated 62,000 attendees—an increase of approximately 2,000 people compared to 2017—who will be able to try 4,000 beers from close to 800 breweries. This is also the 37th consecutive year the event has been held, and there are some significant changes this year compared to previous years.
First, GABF has 100,000-square-feet more space than last year, bringing the grand total to 584,000-square-feet. According to the GA BF, this will allow for not only more breweries, but also bigger booths, a Meet the Brewer section that is 40 percent larger than last year, a new 3,600-square-foot Buffalo Wild Wings Sports Bar and the 12,600-square-foot Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden, which will feature 17 craft breweries pouring their limited edition Jameson barrel-aged beer.
In addition, there will be a new Collaboration Competition, which will included 48 collaboration beers evaluated in a Best of Show format. Due to the increased size of the event this year, many of the competition entries will be served during the show at a special Collaboration Competition booth.
Finally, GABF has decided to arrange breweries in alphabetical order as opposed to grouping them in specific regions as has historically been the case, meaning attendees will be able to find the breweries they are looking for faster.
Since this is a consumer event—i.e. consumers are allowed to purchase tickets to attend, as opposed to a retailer or brewery exclusive event—there are any number of reasons breweries attend the show, including the chance to have your beer sampled by an enormous number of people from every walk of life, all within a very short timeframe.
Quite a few of the breweries that attend also enter beers into the annual Beer Competition, where beers are judged by the festival’s Professional Judge Panel that takes place over five different three-hour judging sessions during a three-day period with close to 100 beer styles that breweries can enter.
While there are a number of notable absences this year—including Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., Founders Brewing Co. and Boulevard Brewing Co.—some of the most talked about breweries in the country are attending and pouring samples of some of their most popular creations.
That list includes breweries such as Bottle Logic pouring its Fundamental Observation, Number Crunch and Jam the Radar imperial stouts; Boston Beer Co. sharing its Samuel Adams Utopias, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. pouring the never before seen Parabanilla Imperial Stout; and Weldwerks Brewing Co. pouring 12 different beers, including Single Barrel Peanut Butter Cup Medianoche, Coconut Medianoche and QDH Juicy Bits IPA.