Great American Beer Festival or The Journey
Once a year, from all corners of the globe, the faithful make a pilgrimage to the holy land to worship at the altar of malted barley, hops yeast and water that is The Great American Beer Festival in the mile high Mecca of Denver Colorado. I was fortunate enough this year to join these stalwart suds-suckers to the sold out show and participate in the revelry and spectacle, the overwhelming enormity and the camaraderie, the joy and splendor of the GABF.
The journey was fraught with peril at every turn. Armed with my pen for a sword and camera for my shield, I left the warmth, safety and familiarity of the shire (Mesa AZ) to begin the quest. The other half of my “Fellowship of the Brew” informed me that our plane was to be delayed for two hours and that we must wait in the airport pub and consume commonly available, pedestrian beers. Oh the humanity! As a result of this delay, we would not be present for media lunch at which we would be served many finely crafted flagons of liquid gold, paired with the finest fair of the local chefs. My heart was heavy and yet, we persevered.
After USAIRWAYS left us stranded in a vast wasteland (The Denver Airport) we procured a wagon (Hyundai Santa Fe) from the village Livery and resumed our arduous trek. We traveled many leagues across the the blustery plane and established our camp before the brief, final ride to Paradisum. We sought and were granted access to enter through the gates, passed the guardians to where the great hall exploded with light sound and color! Heady aromas floated on the air and pipers piped as the other pilgrims rushed from stall to stall partaking in the communion of the precious nectar. It was glorious! Never before have so many breweries come together in one place, at one time with such a variety of styles and flavors and textures and hues.
We nosed and tasted and rejoiced at the splendor. It was like looking into the face of God. If I were to pass this instant, it would take them one hundred harvests to wipe the grin from my face, for I have dined on honeydew and drunk the milk of paradise.
O.K. after a whole lot of milk of paradise, your going to need to relieve yourself. Not to worry, as restrooms were plentiful and seldom was a line seen. Feel like a smoke. No problem. A generous area was provided to enjoy a cigarillo between samples which also contained another sixty Port-a Pottys at the ready.
Lines at the booths were short, as the enthusiastic army of volunteers swiftly poured samples and answered questions. Volunteering isn’t such a bad gig either, seeing as how they were allowed to sample as they worked.
Access to brewers was good as well, most of them working their booth and enthusiastically responding to questions from the thirsty crowd.
As far as trends, Saison/Farmhouse Ales were popular this year as was Bourbon Barrel aging while fruit beers were few and far between. If I heard ”Session beer” one more time I was gonna puke (figuratively of course). We also saw several wine barrel aged brews which I would like to see even more of.
I wouldn’t recommend heterosexuals going there to look for love. The male to female ratio appeared to be about 5 to 1. Quite the sausage fest. Speaking of sausage, that was one of the few things available to eat. While the food I purchased was delicious, I wouldn’t mind a few more choices.
More drunk Karaoke! It was the only form of entertainment in the hall. I would think a polka band might be a good fit. Lose the Silent Disco. That was just stupid.
If you love beer, put the Great American Beer Festival on your bucket list, but watch closely for when tickets go on sale. We heard this years tickets sold out in 15 minutes!