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, GABF is the biggest gathering of the American beer industry in existence. Beer lovers and aficionados can try the best beers from hundreds of different breweries and craft brewers stemming from the farthest corners of the America. The festival’s main event is a beer competition — the most prestigious brewing competition in the country — and awards ceremony. (This year’s GABF has special weight as the 40th anniversary of the fest, too.)
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 beer fans and 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 brewing company with a seal of approval from the Great American Beer Festival means a lot in this industry and festival-goers can try beers that won gold, silver and bronze awards at Heavy Medal last year. 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.
- The festival has been held every year since 1982, though 2020 and 2021 were not in person due to the COVID pandemic.
- Check out this old-school guide to Denver if you’re looking for things to do outside of the festival.
It’s my first time attending. What can I expect?
The Great American Beer Festival showcases the best of the American beer industry and the best in craft beer. Expect to see more than 500 of America’s craft breweries, serving more than 2,000 different beers and more than 100 beer styles. You’ll likely see beers from California, to Texas, to Maine, to Michigan and everything in between.
Who produces the Great American Beer Festival?
The annual GABF is produced by the Brewers Association, an American trade group that reps more than 5400 brewers. The two most visible programs supported by the BA are the Great American Beer Fest and the American Homebrewers Association.
Where is the GABF held?
At the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO.
What is the exact address of the Colorado Convention Center?
700 14th St, Denver, CO 80202
Where can I find out even more about the festival?
What if I want to enter my beer into the competition?
For those interested in throwing their own IPA, pale ale or pilsner in the ring, applications closed on June 21 for this year’s festival.
How much are the pretzel necklaces that I saw people wearing last year?
Pretzel necklaces will be on sale for $4.99 according the festival’s website. You can buy them at the American Homebrewers Association booth (right near the ticket holder entrance).
I’m a brewer and this is my first time attending the fest. Can I enter my beers into the competition?
Breweries meeting all three of the following criteria could have entered. The criteria must have been true as of June 13, 2023.
- A brewery must be fully licensed to both produce AND sell beer in the U.S.
- A brewery must have a basic permit/brewers notice on file with the TTB.
- A brewery must be currently open and operating with at least one beer that is currently commercially available for sale at retail to the public (and that includes taproom, bar, restaurant, retail store, etc.).
How do I get GABF tickets?
Check the link above that says “check for tickets.”
Will there be live music at the Great American Beer fest?
Yes, expect live music at the Ikon Pass stage. The lineup has not been announced as of this writing.