Great American Beer Festival comes to Denver for the 26th time starting Thursday |

Great American Beer Festival comes to Denver for the 26th time starting Thursday

Daily Staff Writer
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Jason E. Kaplan

DENVER ” Friday through Sunday the 26th edition of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) returns to Denver. The granddaddy of all US beer fests, the 2007 GABF will serve over 1,789 beers (in one-ounce tasting portions) from 402 American breweries to the event’s 40,000 attendees. The list of beers is the largest array of US beers ever gathered together in one setting.

That list of beers and the event’s growing attendance (last year’s GABF broke the previous year’s attendance total by 28 percent) are proof of the GABF’s role as a showcase and catalyst for the US craft beer industry, which is now at an all time high.

While sales of beers from large domestic brewers have remained flat in 2006, sales of craft beer continue to explode. Scan data from Information Resources Inc. shows craft beer with a 17.8 percent increase in supermarket sales for 2006 ” more growth than any other alcohol beverage category in the supermarket sales channel. In the past three years, craft beer overall sales have grown by an astounding 31.5 percent.

“Craft beer is now a vital part of American culture,” says Charlie Papazian, GABF founder and president of the Brewers Association, which presents the event each year. “Flavorful, innovative and diverse beers are what more and more people want today, and the growing success of the Great American Beer Festival reflects that cultural shift. The festival has helped America’s small brewers show the public why American beer is some of the best in the world.”

The beers served at the festival (along with others sent in by US brewers not attending the GABF) are evaluated by a panel of over 100 beer judges. Last year’s judging included over 2,400 beers in 75 different beer-style categories, from 450 US breweries. The 2007 medal winners will be announced during the Saturday afternoon session.

New this year, the festival will include numerous “green” practices carried out in conjunction with the Denver Convention Center, host site of the 2007 GABF. Tens of thousands of bottles, glasses, programs and other products will be recycled to greatly reduce the waste stream of the festival. There will also be an increased promotion of public transportation to the festival, in an effort to reduce the carbon “footprint” of the event.

Over its 26 years, the GABF has also become an annual reunion for the nation’s craft brewers, and a chance for them to share advice and knowledge, network with distributors and retailers, and connect with beer enthusiasts. For those enthusiasts, the fest is “Who’s Who?” gathering of America’s beer pioneers, innovators and celebrities, and a chance for beer fans to meet their brewing heroes.

The GABF’s most important people may be the massive number of beer-loving volunteers from around the US who “work for beer” in exchange for admission into the GABF. “This year’s GABF will have 2,700 volunteers,” Papazian says, “and they’ll put in 40,000 hours of their time just to be a part of the festival. Our event would not take place without these volunteers.”

For information on the Great American Beer Festival visit

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