The great fest

Great American Beer FestivalThere are two sorts of great: that of exceptional quality and that of grand size. After my second trip to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver recently, I’ve concluded that it is both but especially the latter that describes this notable beer event.

Hop ManSure, I tasted incredible offerings from the likes of Russian River Brewing Company’s STS Pils and Supplication to Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Pivo andĀ Parabola. They were amazing, and beyond this short list of delicious beers, I confirmed that breweries such as Almanac, Wicked Weed, and The Rare Barrel absolutely deserve the buzz they’ve generated.

But while I drank my fair share of fabulous beers over the course of four sessions, I also sampledĀ a number of lackluster offerings. During one stretch of randomly sampling unknown breweries, I bet I tasted a half dozen disappointments in a row. Of the over 3,750 beers served by some 750 breweries at this year’s immense festival, many were far from great.

This quibble is but a picking of the nits. If you’re a beer lover, the GABF should be seated on your bucket list. It is indeed great by any definition, and the entire week is great, too. Whether or not you score tickets to the fest itself, show up in Denver and take it all in. The streets are crawling with great brewers, the breweries and beer bars are laden with great events, and it is a guarantee that you will have yourself a great time. Revel in the great beers you encounter, and learn from the disappointments.

One of the highlights of my 2015 GABF experience was hearing Vinnie, Sam, and Matt discuss pilsners during one of the educational sessions.

One of the highlights of my 2015 GABF experience was hearing Vinnie, Sam, and Matt discuss pilsners during one of the educational sessions.

Learning is great, and the GABF is a great place to take it all in. Do it.

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