Another Great American Beer Festival is in the books, and as has been the case over the years with this site and our sister site, it is time to take a look back and reflect on some specific things I noticed during the event. Since deciding to change up the coverage this year by answering specific questions every day about my experience as opposed to a chronological format, I will keep that same format, albeit with different questions.

Did the extra 100,000-square-feet the GABF added to the festival really make that big of a difference?

In a word, yes. The hall felt less crowded overall compared to last year, as well as during the same Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday afternoon sessions—despite the slight increase in attendance numbers. It was obvious that there was more room to play with when it came to additions like the Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden—which was almost a world unto itself—and the Buffalo Wild Wings Sports Bar. While there were times that I had to dodge people in the lanes, there were many more times that I could have extended both of my arms out fully and not touched anyone.

What was the biggest overall change that you noticed compared the last year other than the aforementioned size increase?

Although there were (slightly) more people than ever, the lines were almost shockingly short, even for big ticket, highly hyped beers. In fact, while the longest line I stood in was Weldwerks Brewing Co., even such heavy hitters as Abnormal Beer Co.’s collaboration with J. Wakefield Brewing Co., Barrel-Aged All the Lights, took just a bit over seven minutes to get through. Two of the reasons this could be the case was that more breweries were serving their beers out of pitchers instead of draft lines and that there seemed to be more people behind most of the booths to help get people their beer.

How did the new alphabetical location system work out?

Last year’s system of putting breweries in regions—i.e. Northeast, South, etc.—had its detractors, so the GABF decided to try a new alphabetical system, which did make it much easier to find booths for me, although there were a few exceptions. For example, I had a hard time finding Offshoot Brewing Co.—it was nowhere near the O section—until I remembered it would probably be next to The Bruery in the B section, since they are basically one an the same.

What was a cool thing about the festival this year that people are not really talking about?

I was impressed with the fact that the Brewers Association managed to give each winner of Saturday’s competition a sticker that indicated the specific beer that received an award, thus making it easier for people to find—and ask for—those beers immediately after the ceremony was over.

Did the new addition of the Juicy or Hazy Ale category in the competition seem like a popular choice?

Well, there were 391 entries in that category—which was won by Alarmist Brewing’s Le Jus—so I would say the answer is yes.

What was the coolest addition to the festival that you noticed?

That would be the addition of the Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden, which turned out to be even more awesome than I thought it would be; it was extremely well laid out, it was easy to find and get pours of the beers you wanted, plus the Cooperage demonstration was fascinating, to say the least.

Having said the above, the Collaboration section—while also a good addition in terms of highlighting the specific beers—was nothing special about how it looked or where it was located. In fact, it was nothing more than a small separate section with different beers being poured.

How many physical breweries did you visit?

I stepped foot into three different breweries: Weldwerks Brewing Co., Wiley Roots Brewing and Casey Brewing and Blending.

Can you give us a total number and detailed list of beers that you sampled?

Your wish is my command!

  1. Casey Brewing and Blending — The Cut – Advanced Peach (9/21/17)
  2. Casey Brewing and Blending — Funky Blender Preserves – Raspberry
  3. Casey Brewing and Blending — Funky Blender Preserves: Cherry (Sour Danube 7/26/18)
  4. Casey Brewing and Blending — The Cut: Raspberry
  5. Casey Brewing and Blending — East Bank: Cherry
  6. Upslope Brewing Co. — Lee Hill Series Volume 14: Wild Christmas with Black Raspberries
  7. Upslope Brewing Co. — Lee Hill Series Volume 16: Tropical Fruit Sour Ale
  8. Upslope Brewing Co. — Upslope 2018 Experimental IPA
  9. Bell’s Brewery — Batch 9,000 Ale
  10. Three Floyds Brewing Co. — Munsterfest
  11. Three Floyds Brewing Co. — Alpha Klaus
  12. Wicked Weed Brewing — Garcon de Ferme
  13. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — Coconut Medianoche (2018)
  14. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — Blackberry Berliner
  15. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — Mexican Medianiche
  16. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — 18 Month Medianoche
  17. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — Piña Colada Milkshake IPA
  18. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — QDH Juicy Bits IPA
  19. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — Single Barrel Peanut Butter Cup Medianoche
  20. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — Medianoche Brewers Select
  21. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — Sweet Disposition
  22. Weldwerks Brewing Co. — 2018 WeldWerks Invitational Festival Medianoche
  23. Perennial Artisan Ales — Barrel-Aged Vermilion
  24. Avery Brewing Co. — Scarlet Cucumis
  25. Avery Brewing Co. — Tweak
  26. Abnormal Beer Co./J. Wakefield Brewing — Barrel-Aged All The Lights
  27. Kane Brewing — Barrel-Aged Sunday Brunch
  28. Side Project Brewing — Deveration Blend #9
  29. Jester King Brewery — Atrial Rubicite
  30. Jester King Brewery — Aurastone
  31. Ozark Beer Co. — Bourbon Double Cream Stout (2017)
  32. Ozark Beer Co. — Bourbon Double Cream Stout (2018)
  33. Samuel Adams — Utopias Aged on Cherries
  34. Cerebral Brewing Co. — Barrel Aged Ancient Ruins – Rocky Road
  35. Forager Brewing Co. — Nillerzzzzz
  36. Forager Brewing Co. — Pudding Goggles
  37. Old Town Brewing — Mushroom Ale
  38. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. — Paravanilla
  39. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. — XVIII Anniversary Ale
  40. Melvin Brewing Co. — Orange IPA
  41. Chuckanut Brewery — Chuckanut Helles
  42. J Wakefield Brewing — Frida
  43. J Wakefield Brewing — Barrel-Aged Bout It
  44. Oskar Blues Brewery — Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy
  45. AleSmith Brewing — Mexican Speedway Stout
  46. Modern Times/J. Wakefield Brewing — Suggestion of Mass
  47. Modern Times Beer — Monsters’ Park Aged in Spanish Brandy Barrels
  48. Fremont Brewing Co. — Three Matts 2018
  49. Fremont Brewing Co. — Coconut Edition B-Bomb 2017
  50. Cigar City Brewing — Coconut Marshal Zhukov’s Russian Imperial Stout
  51. Double Oaked A Deal With The Devil
  52. Hill Farmstead Brewery — Aaron Batch 3
  53. New Glarus Brewing Co. — Serendipity
  54. River Horse Brewing — Craic (Jameson Caskmates)
  55. River Horse Brewing Co. — One Score and Two Years Ago (Jameson Caskmates)
  56. 8th Wonder — Imperial Rocket Fuel (Jameson Caskmates)
  57. Revolution Brewing — Jamo-Nilla (Jameson Caskmates)
  58. Parish Brewing Co. — Irish Coffee Stout (Jameson Caskmates)
  59. Great Divide Brewing Co. — The Smoothness (Jameson Caskmates)
  60. Cigar City Brewing — Beoir Le Caife (Jameson Caskmates)
  61. Fat Head’s Brewery — Wake the Dead (Jameson Caskmates)
  62. The Black Abbey Brewing Co. — Lorica (Jameson Caskmates)
  63. Bale Breaker Brewing Co. — Ossifier Stout (Jameson Caskmates)
  64. Rhinegeist Brewery — Feeling Good
  65. Firestone Walker Brewing Co./Creature Comforts Brewing Co. — Mother’s Milk
  66. Founders Brewing Co. — Canadian Breakfast Stout (2018)
  67. Dionysus Brewing Co. — Peach on Through
  68. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. — Vintage Bigfoot
  69. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. — Barrel-Aged Narwhal
  70. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. — Denver Super Rare Barrel-Aged Narwhal
  71. Short’s Brewing Co. — Nitro Pistachio Cream Ale
  72. Deschutes Brewery — Black Butte Cubed
  73. Deschutes Brewery — The Abyss (2014)
  74. Deschutes Brewery — Pacific Wonderland Lager
  75. 3 Floyds Brewing — Dark Lord (2017)
  76. 3 Floyds Brewing — Dark Lord (2018)

Man, that is quite a few, how many steps did you take?

According to my phone—which, as you know, is super accurate—my total was 32,086 steps, or about 12 miles.

I missed some of the other recaps, are there links you can point me to?

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