There’s always a lot of love and hate around the Great American Beer Festival. Each year, nearly 50,000 craft beer loves descend on Denver, Colorado to sip there way through some of the nations finest beers. And no matter what you think, there is no denying that GABF 2011 is once again the epicenter of the American craft beer scene. This year, we took on two sessions of GABF, camera in hand, to find out the best the county had to offer… one ounce at a time. Since I’m making a lot of lists these days, here is the good and bad:
- Amazing Beer: There is no denying that, with over 2000 beers to choose from, you are bound to find some great gems. Check out my Serious Eats post on GABF to find my 15 favorites
- The Craft Beer Community: Is going stronger than ever. It’s great to see so many out in good spirits sharing there favorite brews with one another
- Denver: Denver is awesome. Its clean, its friendly, and it has a both a vibrant beer and food scene. Oh, and lots of scooters. Stick Denver on the ocean and I’m there.
- One Ounce Pours: Let’s be honest, you can’t really “taste” any beer with a single ounce. I am not sure why this is set up. Perhaps its so people don’t drink too much, or so everyone gets a taste but you just end up slugging back your ounce and getting back on the end of the line. I would have loved to see two or four ounce pours so you could really enjoy a beer.
- The Lighting: I know its a convention hall but those massive yellow bulbs are brutal. Everything is in a bad tanning booth haze
- Lack of Brewery Representation: While I hardly expect every brewery to send their brewmaster out to answer my questions all day (although many did), it would have been great to see more booths with informed attendants. While I can tell you the ins and outs of everything at the Lost Abbey both, many a new, anticipated brewery was manned by volunteers who knew little about the beer and even less about the brewery. It would have been good to at least see some info sheets sent along with the beers.
Overall, however, The Great American Beer Festival is a great chance to try all the beers from around the country that you usually gawk at on the internet. We had a blast at GABF 2011 and can’t wait for GABF 2012 (hopefully with a press pass this time).
(NOTE, I’ll be adding descriptions on these shots soon so you know what’s what but for now just click through and enjoy the ride.)