2018 Great American Beer Festival
Between two bearded dudes, two Lindseys, four sessions at the GABF, 800+ breweries and 4,000+ beers, this year was one for the record books. One night in Fort Collins and three nights in Denver for the festival. More beer to drink than one could possibly imagine and enough fun to last a very long time.
This year’s beer-cation to the Great American Beer Festival began with a trip to Fort Collins. The folks in Fort Collins are currently enjoying a booming craft beer explosion with some of the best breweries in the nation residing there. They have New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing Co, Funkwerks, and a host of other breweries.
There is no lack of good craft beer in Fort Collins, CO.
After checking in to our AirBNB, New Belgium Brewing was our first stop. Not only do they have a badass foeder forest run by Lauren Salazar, they’re owned entirely by their employees. Every person I talked to had an immense pride in their company and would love to tell you all about it. Their beers were fantastic, the atmosphere was extremely intriguing and comfy, and I can guarantee that I’ll be visiting again in the future.
Next stop, Odell Brewing Co. We didn’t get to spend as much time here as I would have liked, but I was seriously impressed with their operation all the same. Of all the beers they serve, Green Coyote absolutely blew me away. Can you say “tomatillo sour ale”?
Last, but not least, in Fort Collins, was Funkwerks. What an amazing place they will grow up to be! They have more potential than just about any other brewery I’ve ever been to. Not only do they produce some world class sour beers, they’ve combined distribution efforts with 21st Amendment and Brooklyn Brewery to really up their game.
Back in Denver, the GABF began. What an experience this year was!
For 2018, I was lucky enough to get a brewer’s pass from Little Apple Brewing Co. in Manhattan, KS. The people at LABCO completely hooked me up and I’m forever grateful for the experience they allowed me to have. Not only did the pass get me into all four sessions, but it also allowed me entrance into the awards ceremony. That ceremony alone made the trip for me. Being in a giant amphitheatre completely surrounded by more brewing knowledge than I have ever seen was a surreal experience. The amount of knowledge in that one room would absolutely blow your mind.
Back attending the beer festival, I had one constant thought going through my mind. I needed to pace myself. 16 hours at a beer festival with the world’s biggest gathering of breweries can be quite daunting. Take it slow, don’t try everything, and remember you have time to come back were my mantras. With that being said, tasting 200-300 unique beers is not a hard thing to do. It’s easy. Let me tell you again. It’s easy.
Walking in to the festival, we were given our tasting glasses for the event and were able to start tasting everything. Starting out, we had to make our ways over to the Little Apple Brewing Co’s table so that we could check on everything and see how the beers were tasting. Everything that Shawn makes at LABCO is great, but the “Fruit Salad Shorts” beer was absolutely phenomenal this year. It’s like drinking a glass of canned fruit salad! It’s seriously an amazing beer!
Over the course of the next 3 days, Shawn, both Lindsey’s and I made our way around the festival trying everything that we could get our hands on. From Russian Imperial Stouts, to Neapolitan ice cream sours, to Sam Adams Utopias, to everything in between, we tried it all. Our glasses never went dry for more than a minute or two and it was utter bliss the entire time we were there.
Famous beer people were everywhere as well! We got to meet Beavo from the brewing network, Chad Yakobson who owns/brews at Crooked Stave and a ton of other people. It’s truly amazing everyone that you meet going to the GABF. In years past, we’ve even met Vinnie Cilurzo, Sam Calagione, John Palmer, Charlie Papazian and many others. It’s always a surreal moment drinking world class beers with the individuals that brewed the beer and own the brewery.
All in all, the Great American Beer Festival is something that everyone who enjoys craft beers needs to check out. Nowhere in the world can you attend an event that has more types of craft beer available to sample. The beers you drink, the people you meet, and the atmosphere you enjoy are truly second to none.