Friday, September 17, 2010

The 2010 Great American Beer Festival

Firkin Around...Denver, Colorado.

 And now, The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) !  This marks my second year in a row, in attendance.  I once commented about last year's event,"... it was like walking into a room of 15,000 strangers that really were friends."  That was never more evident than this year. Going in again, there was a moment of uncertainty that it would not meet the expectations of the previous year.  Last year had been so interesting and so much fun. I came to find out that because of my expanded use of Twitter and blogging, these people were truly friends that I just had not yet met.

The two days spent at the event seem like a blur now, but the memories, the friends made and the beer sampled was phenomenal.  The place was full of some favorite breweries and some new.  Lots of different beer was here to sample; one thing the GABF never lacks, is variety. 

Superstars of beer.  Up close and personal.

So, what would be the attraction this year?  Surely all that new beer the breweries were issuing was an important part.  But, I found that the real "rock stars" of the business were in attendance and even more accessible than last year.  Note the pix here on this page of just a couple of the luminaries at large in the Denver Convention Center.  Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head was pouring libations for the crowd at the Dogfish tent. We stood in line for about 15 minutes and wouldn't you know it, just before we got to the table it was time for him to move on. Having already invested ourselves waiting on line, we toughed it out and got our beer.  Sam and his entourage hadn't gone too far and one of them spotted me with my camera and had Sam pose for the pic. A very friendly and approachable group from Dogfish Head put a smile on our faces and and exclamation point on the night.

In another part of the convention hall, a dapper gentleman was pouring out samples for the audience.  You guessed it! It was none other than Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Beer. Suprisingly, the line was incredibly short.  We must have just missed the throng walking away.  After pouring us a couple of ounces, he graciously posed for this picture. Shaking hands, Garrett went off in the crowd to his book signing. A busy man of great talents.

A friend made at last year's GABF was Zak Davis, the west coast rep for Shmaltz.  They have two awesome lineups in HeBrew and Coney Island, featuring some high ABV ales and crazy craft lagers respectively. Zak is always the host with the most and this year was no different.  I was fortunate to catch up with him at a couple of the events in Denver.

In the closer-to-home star power, Tampa beer makers, Cigar City had brewmaster Wayne Wambles  and Joe Redner pouring out some specialty beers.  We had the fortune to catch up with them after the flight home to Tampa on Sunday and we chatted a bit at the baggage area.

To those are fans of good beer, I have to ask, "If you haven't gone to The Great American Beer Festival yet, what are you waiting for?"  It simply defies words and has to be experienced.

Firkin Biggest Beerfest in the USA!

The Great American Beer Festival
September 16, 17 & 18, 2010
The Denver Convention Center
700 14th Street
Denver, Colorado 80202
(303) 228-8000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (303) 228-8000      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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