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Lessons from day 1 of the Great American Beer Festival

Published: October 11, 2013, 3:34 pm, by Scott Rappold


Day 1 of the Great American Beer Festival in Denver is in the books, and the record books, as the largest festival to date, 624 breweries and 3,100 beers.

Here’s what we’ve learned.

-The scope of this thing is just insane. It’s mathematically impossible to hit every brewery, so be picky about what you taste.

- We’ve become a nation enamored with craft beer. Represented at the GABF are beers from 48 states and the District of Columbia. Come on, get your act together and get here, Iowa and Mississippi!

- Be ready for a long, long line to get in.

- The brewers might enjoy the festival more than we do.

- Hit these breweries early, as they seemed to be the most popular and had the longest lines: New Glarus, Dogfish Head and Russian River.

- Drink some water every time you pass a fountain. It’s easy to forget about hydration and wake up with your head in a vice.

- Do you really need to go partying some more after 5 hours of beer drinking? A question I am asking myself this very morning.

- Pumpkin beers are delicious. In the spirit of the season, many brewers brought some fine pumpkin beers.

- The scramble among brewers to register, which left many breweries out of the festival, has resulted in a policy change. Next year, every brewery that wants can participate, and officials will divide the number of beers submitted for judging equally,  so while some breweries will have to submit fewer beers, everyone can take part.

- Colorado has a big, big showing here. Seriously, the Rocky Mountain section of the fest is bigger than the New England, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic booth areas combined.

- You aren’t cool unless you have a necklace of pretzels around your neck.

- The virtual dance floor – a bunch of people with virtual reality helmets and headphones dancing to music the rest of us can’t hear – could only happen with alcohol involved.

- If you see a seat open anywhere, grab it.

- Coffee beers contain caffeine. That might help you get your second wind as the night winds down.

- They’re strict about last call at 9:50, so don’t dawdle getting that last pour.

- They’re also strict about pouring tiny, tiny samples. Come on, can’t a guy get 3 ounces of beer every now and then?

- Forgetting to eat dinner is not a good way to survive the Great American Beer Festival.