Great American Beer Festival

Great American Beer Festival 2023 is one of the top fall festivals in the United States. It’s an annual, three-day event hosted by the prestigious Brewers Association. This popular Denver event takes place over a mid-September weekend and attracts beer enthusiasts from across the world sampling more than 2,000 American craft beers. There are more than 95 product judges sampling along with the rest of the crowd, choosing finalists, and eventually the winners. The host city is an ideal place for the Denver Beer Festival: it is home to the country’s first brewery, Coors, and is also now home to Coors Field, a popular city baseball field. With this kind of history, it’s no surprise that the city is now dotted with microbreweries

Great American Beer Festival History and Facts

The Denver Beer Festival has enjoyed immense success since 1982, when it was first conceived by a resident of Boulder Colorado named Charlie Papazian, an American-born nuclear engineer. Papazian was also the original founder of the Association of Brewers and is considered an expert in the industry. He was known to love discussing and enjoying food and beer pairings, of which he wrote a book on the same topic.

A long stretch from the hundreds of breweries participating today, the original Great American Beer Festival welcomed just 22 breweries. There is one reliable constant over the years the festival has occurred: the category with the largest number of entries is almost always American-style India Pale Ale, a light, refreshing beer style appealing to all types of palates, making it extremely popular.

Over the years, the festival has drawn crowds that number 30, 40, and almost 50,000 people, attracted almost 500 unique breweries and more than 3,000 types of brews, and given out more than 200 medals at each of the festivals. Judges determine the Gold, Silver, and bronze finalists in categories totaling almost 80.

Tickets to Great American Beer Festival

Tickets to Great American Beer Festival are only available in advance. They go on sale toward the end of June as general admission tickets and are available by session or weekend pass. Sessions include blocks of time for each of the festival days. The first night welcomes the fewest crowds. The Member’s Only session happens on Saturday and is when most awards are given out.

Directions to Great American Beer Festival

The Great American Beer Festival is held at the Colorado Convention Center at 700 14th Street. From Boulder, Denver International Airport, Denver West, getting here includes a trip down the I-25 southbound. Follow the highway and merge onto Colfax Avenue East and then to Speer Boulevard and continue one block to Welton Street. The main entrance is at Welton Street and 13th to the Colorado Convention Center located at 700 14th Street where there is a parking garage for 1,000 vehicles.

Lodging near Great American Beer Festival

Lodging at the Great American Beer Festival is available at many nearby Denver hotels. The official hotel sponsor of the weekend events is the Denver Marriott City Center. Other Convention Center hotels include Hotel Monaco, the Hyatt Regency, and the Holiday Inn. There are many other downtown Denver hotels available near the Denver Beer Festival in many price ranges to suit all budgets.

Image: Jason Kaplan
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