The 2018 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is bigger than it has ever been, both in terms of attendees—there will be an estimated 62,000 people sampling beers this year, and a floor space that is 17 percent larger than last year.
While there will be an estimated 800 breweries that are scheduled to pour more than 4,000 beers, there are some notable companies missing this year that attended last year’s festivities.
Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. — For those wanting to try some of the most sought-after stouts in the world, this was a real punch to the gut. Last year’s lineup included the extremely popular Pseudo Sue pale ale as well as a few other releases from the Deborah, Iowa-based brewery, but the real crowd pleaser came from pours of Morning Delight, a 12 percent ABV imperial stout brewed with coffee and maple syrup. The stout made for a great way to start the day when I tried it and it will be sorely missed.
Founders Brewing Co. — A brewery that always seems to be attending events like this, one of the more popular beers that Founders poured for attendees last year was its Kentucky Breakfast Stout—or KBS, as it is more commonly known—a 12.4 percent ABV version of the company’s Breakfast Stout aged in oak bourbon barrels from Kentucky for one year in old gypsum mines 85 feet under the ground at a temperature of 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit.
While KBS had a much bigger nationwide release this year than in years past, there are still plenty of people who would have been able to try it for the first time if the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based brewery were attending and pouring it.
Boulevard Brewing Co. — Although last year’s pour list was full most mostly easily found beers like Jam Band, Cranberry Orange Radler and Unfiltered Wheat Beer, there were a couple of the Kansas City, Mo.-based brewery’s creations that will certainly be missed, including Whiskey Barrel Stout—which had not been widely released at the time the festival took place—and Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, which is extremely well-regarded.
Also missing will be the multiple tap takeovers that Boulevard participated in around the Denver area, including a Love Child vertical tasting that included Love Child #3, Love Child #4, Love Child #5, Love Child #6, Love Child #7 and Love Child #8.
Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales — This local Denver brewery specializing in barrel-aged spontaneous ales conditioned on local fruits was pouring a number of its sour creations last year, but perhaps the one that will be missed the most is Covert #1, an 18 percent ABV “super braggot” brewed with with cherries, black currants and raspberries before being aged in barrels.
Scratch Brewing — While not as well known as the preceding breweries on the list, Scratch Brewing poured one of the most interesting combinations of beers at last year’s GABF: five different farmhouse ales brewed with trees and plants that surround its brewhouse named Bark, Flowers, Leaves, Roots and Seeds. The brewery gave out samples of a series of very unique mushroom-inspired beers in 2016, so there is no telling what it would have brought to the event this year.
This year’s Great American Beer Festival is being held two weeks earlier this year from Sept. 22-Sept. 26, but is once taking place at the Denver Convention Center.