Welcome to the Oscars of Beer. The Great American Beer Festival started in 1982 at the Harvest House Hotel in Boulder before moving to Denver in 1984, then, bursting at the seams, to its current home at Colorado Convention Center in 2000. Today, it’s the biggest gathering of American beer in existence. Beer aficionados and all-around drinkers can try brews from hundreds of different breweries stemming from the farthest corners of the United States. The festival’s main event is a brewing competition — the most prestigious brewing competition in the country.
While the list of breweries that will offer samples this year has yet to be announced, last year’s lineup gives a good taste of what to expect. The Great American Beer Festival is the perfect place for the adventurous beer drinker: think a Pineapple Magic Slushy from Texas-based 903 Brewers, a Blueberry Cotton Candy from Bearded Brewer Artisan Ales in Omaha, Nebraska or a Cucumber Crush from Pacific Northwesterners, 10 Barrel Brewing.
A seal of approval from the Great American Beer Festival means a lot in this industry, and, for those interested in throwing their fermented concoctions in the ring, applications open on June 13 and close on June 21. Brewers can also take part in Collaboration Nation, where beer-makers work together to create a mash-up masterpiece. Festival-goers can also try beers that won gold, silver and bronze awards at Heavy Medal last year, and the Wish You Were Here event lets you try beers from brewers who couldn’t make it in person.
There will also be plenty of fun drunk-person activities, like corn hole, trivia, karaoke and a silent disco. Additionally, there is a “Designated Driver Lounge” for the guests who were responsibly dragged along to shuttle their drunk friends to and from the festival. The lounge has mocktails, free chair massages, food and an appreciation gift from event planners.
- Over 60,000 people attend the Great American Beer Festival over the course of three days.
- For members, tickets go on sale on July 11, and will be available to the public on July 12 at 10am. The prices are as follows: member presale at $85; General Admission at $95; and Designated Drivers at $30.
- Check out this old-school guide to Denver if you’re looking for things to do outside of the festival.