DENVER – Beer lovers from all over the country showed up in droves over the weekend to attend the drinker’s paradise that was the 25th annual Great American Beer Festival.
The Colorado Convention Center was the stage and 1,650 of the nation’s best beers were the performers. The Convention Center held the biggest beer selection ever to be gathered in the United States. Breweries from every state except North Dakota, South Dakota and New Hampshire were represented.
Jason Krogman of St. Paul, Minn., was at the festival for the first time this weekend, but he doesn’t plan on it being his last.
“It really is like coming to the beer mecca,” he said. “I don’t know how I couldn’t come back next year.”
According to GABF officials, more than 29,500 beer enthusiasts from around the world attended the three-day event. And those fanatics couldn’t have been happier when they saw the 384 breweries all located in one area.
Jack Anderson of Turoni’s Main Street Brewery, based in Evansville, Ind., was at the GABF for pleasure more than business, as his beer is only sold in Indiana.
“If we had to justify coming out here from a business standpoint I don’t think we could,” he said. “You can’t beat the atmosphere and the people.”
The biggest celebrity among the brewers was Mr. Samuel Adams himself. Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co. and brewer of Samuel Adams, drew a large audience as he poured samples of his beer for thirsty attendees. Koch drew loud cheers for every beer he filled.
“He’s a hero to us home brewers and to just about anybody who likes good beer,” Krogman said.
Chris Brugger, a brewmaster for Troegs Brewing Co. in Harrisburg, Pa., didn’t draw the crowd Koch did, but said he didn’t mind.
“This is just a great time to come out, see some friends and let people drink what we have to offer,” he said.
The GABF also hosts one of the largest and most prestigious beer-tasting competitions. More than 100 professional judges are brought in from around the United States to evaluate the 2,300 beers that are entered.
One beer that Brugger had to offer, the Troegnator Double Bock, won a silver medal in one of the 69 categories of beer being judged. He said it was an exciting moment for the brewery.
“I don’t think anybody comes here for the awards,” he said. “But it’s nice to receive one and should earn us some respect.”
GABF founder and president of the Brewers Association, Charlie Papazian, was excited for the 25th installment.
“The 25th anniversary of the GABF is truly a celebration of the creativity, excitement, flavor and diversity of American beer.”
Staff writer Jack Genadek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sucking down the suds
Number of Small, Regional, Micro- or Pub-Breweries in US: 1,371
Number of barrels produced by craft brews: 7 million
Number of 12 oz. glasses produced: 2.3 billion
Amount U.S. spent on purchasing beer: $82 billion
Source: Brewers Association