|For those heading the Denver, Colorado this week (Sep 16-18, 2010) … Don’t underestimate this fest. It’s a big one and many can find it to be extremely overwhelming on many levels. We’re talking 457 American brewers serving over 2,200 beers, over 3 days, 4 sessions, and over 49,000 in attendance. It’s also held a mile-high above sea level.
But don’t panic. As GABF veterans and pro-beer drinkers, the bro and I have compiled a guide to help make your GABF experience a more enjoyable one.
### GENERAL INFO
– Official website: http://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com
– GABF Hours & Schedule:
http://www.greatamericanbeerfestiv … -schedule/
– GABF Map & Brewery Index:
http://www.greatamericanbeerfestiv … tival-map/
– Quick Brewery List:
http://www.greatamericanbeerfestiv … -festival/
### BASIC FEST TIPS
– Come prepared.
Got your ID? Cash? Tickets? Hotel address, just in case?
– Get in line early.
Though they shuffle people in using multiple entrances, the lines to get in get very long. Plan on getting in line at least 30mins before your session starts or show-up 30mins after the doors open if you don’t feel like waiting and shuffling in line.
– Don’t bring a back-pack / bag.
Depending on the size of the bag and mood of the security, you could be denied entry or be asked to leave if you manage to get in; you’ll have to store it and then return. To our knowledge, handbags are okay but subject to search.
– Wear comfy shoes.
You’ll be doing a lot of walking and standing on hard surfaces. Be prepared. Wear comfortable shoes or grab some inserts.
– Pretzel necklaces.
Just say no.
– Where to start?
Everyone has their own goals, but we try to aim for brewers/beers that we don’t have access to. It allows us to maximize our experience by meeting new brewers and tasting beers never tried before. Use the map and lists above. Plan some booth visits ahead of time. Or just go free-style. Do whatever works for you. Have fun.
– One-ounce pours?! LOL!
Don’t laugh. They add-up, and if you’re not careful you’ll find out. But w/ moderation, it also allows you to try more in a limited amount of time. Ask for a rinse between samples if you can, especially w/ bolder beers. Most booths will be able to accomodate.
– Don’t drop your tasting cup.
It just erupts your section of the venue into unnecessary noise. Accidents do happen though. Not a big deal if it’s plastic, but if you’re attending the Sat early session the cups are glass, which equals an even more embarrassing mess and no more tasting cup for you.
– Don’t expect to always meet a brewer or get a lot of info.
Depending on which session you attend, many of the booths will be manned by volunteers or general reps. So don’t expect to be able to talk to your favorite brewer or get a ton of info about the brewery or beer at every single booth; you’ll often walkaway disappointed. Also keep in mind that most booths will be very busy, overwhelmed even, so they don’t have time to stop and chat and don’t take someone being short w/ you personally.
All of that said, the best session to meet a brewer is Thu or the first hour of each session. After this brewers many tend to scatter from their booths.
– Don’t booth camp.
Get your sample and get the hell out of the way! There are thousands of other people around you trying to get a beer too.
– Don’t waste your time in lines.
Your window of drinking is short, so don’t waste your time standing for several minutes or many more just so you can taste a 1oz pour of some rare or hyped-up beer. There’s over 2,200 beers to try! Go explore!
Of course there’s food options at the fest, but we highly recommend that you eat before attending. Gets it out of the way and in your system before you start drinking.
Go early. Good luck.
– Escape plan.
Don’t wait to leave until it’s time to. What’s missing out on few 1oz samples for your sanity worth to you? If you value the latter more, consider beating the hordes of exiting people by leaving a bit early.
### SURVIVAL GUIDE
– Mile-High. (Mandatory)
No joke. You’ll be a mile-high sea level. Due to the higher altitude, the humidity level will be low and the air dry. Drink tons of water before, during, and after your trip; twice as much as you normally would. We also recommend moisturizing your skin, and pack some sunscreen, lip-balm, and eye-drops. The air is thinner too, so don’t overexert yourself. Some also recommend eating foods high in potassium; broccoli, bananas, avocado, greens, chocolate, granola, dried fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. As well as foods high in absorbable iron, like red meats.
And a word from the wise: Until you get acclimated to the higher altitude, watch your rate of beer consumption as you will get inebriated much quicker.
– Weather. (Tip)
Looks like highs in the low 80s and lows in the mid 50s. Bring a light jacket if you plan on drinking into the evenings as it can get chilly.
– Tolerance. (Optional; see Moderation)
This is key, and all of the following will, in some part, contribute to it. We start the process by building up our alcohol tolerance, by drinking at least 6-10 beers a day. This is not a limit, but rather a base to get your body used to the alcohol and its effects, because the days are long and the beers are many.
– Moderation. (Mandatory)
We all like to have fun, but life is not a frat party. Appreciate what you are drinking and always practice moderation when drinking. Know your buzz level and maintain it. Exceed it and you will only run into problems.
– Hydrate! (Mandatory)
Probably the most important part. You cannot get enough water in your system. It helps to detoxify and counteracts the alcohol stripping water from your system. Water is your friend.
– Eat. (Mandatory)
This will not only replenish the system, but it will help to absorb the alcohol so you do not get drunk, too quickly. Taking some vitamin/mineral supplements never hurts either. No one wants to witness a weak, depleted beer drinker in action.
That said, unless you want to force nap time … don’t eat too much at once. We find it best to snack and graze multiple times throughout the day.
– Sleep. (Recommended)
At least 6-8 hours of sound sleep. How can you drink if you are fainting like a sissy?
– Milk Thistle. (Tip)
Used for thousands of years, this bad-ass herb, if taken correctly, promotes the protection of your liver by aiding in the detoxification process and stimulating the production of new lever cells. It is also an antioxidant, more powerful than vitamin C and E. Note: Before using this patron saint of the liver, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
– Don’t Smoke. (Tip)
It dulls your sense of smell and taste, causing permanent damage in some cases. You’ll want your palate intact so you can accurately smell, taste and talk about beer. Or not.
– Respect Beer. (Mandatory)
Our motto. Read this: http://beeradvocate.com/respect_beer/
### OTHER EVENTS
GABF is the main event, but it’s not the only thing happening this week. The week is known for its unofficial side-events, so you’ll want to checkout what’s being hosted at places throughout the Denver area. Stretch your legs. Explore.
http://beeradvocate.com/events/calendar (select “Colorado” and sort listings)
http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/new … s/calendar
### PLACES TO VISIT
Looking for a place to have a pint, some grub, or a brewery to visit?
– Checkout the Denver/Boulder page: http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/7
– Or just breweries, brewpubs, and bars in Denver: http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/li … &sort=name
– Or use BeerFly to search for breweries around the surrounding Denver area too. Take a trip. Explore.
– For non-beer stuff: http://www.denver.org
### BA Mountain Forum
Checkout our Mountain forum for discussions on GABF and more happenings and meetups throughout the week:
### WHERE TO FIND THE BROS
Our GABF goal is always the same: drink good beers w/ good people. Feel free to join us! We’d love to meet-up w/ as many people as possible and enjoy some good brews together. And follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BeerAdvocate for our current location and live updates. We’ll be using hashtags: #beer #GABF #Denver
BeerAdvocate Does Boulder!
Wed, Sep 15
Great American Beer Festival
Thu, Sep 16
BeerAdvocate Does Denver!
Fri, Sep 17
Great American Craft Beer Experience
Fri, Sep 17
The Bruery Brunch @ the Cheeky Monk
Sat, Sep 18
Great American Beer Festival
Sat, Sep 18
The rest of the time we’ll be going w/ the flow. Again, follow @BeerAdvocate on Twitter if wish to meet-up.
### HAVE FUN!
Feel free to post your own tips too.
Cheers and see many of you in Boulder and Denver next week!
Founder & Chief Executive Advocate