Beer! Pretzel Necklaces! Beer! Long lines! Beer! Wee-little one-ounce glass! Beer! Bathroom breaks! Beer! Glasses Breaking! OHHHHHHH! Beer! Thousands of people! Beer!
A few weekends ago the hubs, myself, and our friend Mike ventured to the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado for a much needed break from work and a lot of BEER! The GABF (Great American Beer Festival) is a three-day festival at the Colorado Convention Center, where 500 breweries from all over America get together to give out samples of their craft beers. While some of the breweries are very well known and lead the way in the craft beer revolution, most have only been around a year or two, and many are just starting-up. We were on pins and needles for our first time vising the festival.
Pretzel Necklaces! You should never go to a beer drinking festival without a necklace full of pretzels. To start with you get hungry, the munchies that is! Second, sometimes you need to get the taste of a terrible beer out of your mouth or cleanse your palate from a strong one. Third, they are freaking awesome! We planned ahead and bought some pretzel lanyards and strung them high with pretzels. They ALL got eaten Friday night so I am glad we had them. Pretzel necklaces are a work of art. We saw so many creative ones with additions of beef jerky, cheese sticks, M&M’s, etc. I plan on adding all three of these things to my necklace next time we go to a beer festival.The first thing I noticed about the festival is how incredibly organized they are. This is a good thing considering how many people there were, but you never would have noticed when you left the massive beer-drinking room.
After waiting in long lines for two different sessions (Friday night and Saturday day), you went through three checkpoints to make sure you had your ticket and your ID. The final walkway was so fun because you had to walk with your hand up in the air to show your wristband. I am not sure why I found this fun; maybe it was all the people cheering and seeing the beer within feet of you. As you enter the great room you are given a tasting glass (2oz), a huge program, and you are off!
Since we are members of the American Homebrewer’s Association, we got to get into a ‘special’ line inside the convention center; instead of outside of the convention center. This was great, it took us from waiting in-line behinds hundreds of people to a few dozen (we got to enter the room thirty minutes before the rest of the crowds). The breweries weren’t yet pouring the beer, but at least we got to plan our assault and get a good place in-line at our much-awaited breweries.
Right off the bat I took note of where the ‘facilities’ were and separated from the boys. I had to try the 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat, and the boys wanted Russian River. When I finally tried the beer I had been waiting over a year to taste, I joined the boys and we attempted to try as many beers as possible.
Within the next four hours we sampled beer, ate pretzels, and took bathroom breaks…ha! It was a great time, but by the end of the evening we were starving and exhausted (we woke-up at 3am Denver time to get on our plane that day).
I woke Saturday morning feeling like death! Being sick I did not sleep at all! I woke every two hours to use the restroom and blow my nose, ugh! So as you can imagine I was in no mood for MORE beer. Well I sucked it-up, took some medicine, ate some breakfast, and put my happy pants on. This time the line we had to wait in was wrapped completely around the convention center; we walked about half a mile before we finally entered the building.
The great thing about Saturday was that we got glass taster glasses instead of cruddy plastic ones. It took me a good ten or so beer tasters to finally get the sleepy out of me and wake-up. From then on the festival was a blast! It was so much better than the Friday night session. The crowds were happy and smiling, the beers were good; it was a great atmosphere to be enjoying a Saturday afternoon in Denver.
I didn’t think we would actually stay the whole time, but we did! We tried to taste all of the beer at the festival that we were not able to try the night before. With 500 breweries and more than 2,000 beers, that wasn’t possible. When they called last call I ‘hopped’ from line to line trying to taste as many beers that I had not tasted. Sadly, it ended! The lights went up, the breweries stopped pouring, and the hoards of people were ‘escorted’ out. Somehow the three of us managed to stick behind and play a game of beer pong while chatting up a beer brewing equipment vendor. After about ten minutes of talking we were REALLY told to leave…ha! So much fun!
The GABF was a great time to be had! I tried a lot of really fabulous beers that I wish we could buy here in Texas, and I have some great memories with my hubby and our friend Mike.
We hope to get a chance to visit the GABF again. Ideally we would go every year but money and jobs might not allow for that.
If you are not a beer person and haven’t broken out of that box, I strongly urge you to try. Once upon a time not too long ago I despised beer. Miller Lite…really? More like pee if you ask me. Drinking CRAFT beer, beer from local breweries that are independently owned, is the way to to go. The beer is better, the options are better, and the people are down to earth friendly creatures.
Until next year, HAPPY BEER DRINKING!