Great American Beer Festival Survival Guide – 2023

, Great American Beer Festival Survival Guide – 2023

(Photo © Brewers Association)

One of craft beer’s most exciting events kicks off in Denver next week (Sept 21-23) and as most beer veterans know, you’re not going to survive the Great American Beer Festival without some strategy…

And that’s where we come in.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records there is no other place on earth where a beer fans can find more beers to sample than at the Great American Beer Festival. And with thousands of different beers from 1,100+ of the nation’s finest breweries available, one needs to be both prepared and strategic if you want to successfully navigate this beast of an event.

And here’s some GABF survival essentials…

Eating Breakfast is Essential

Hey we get it, you came to drink, and drinking starts early at the GABF. But don’t ever enter the Convention Hall without having consumed a large breakfast (and the greasier the better).

Once you start drinking you won’t be thinking food until it’s too late. And once it’s too late you’ve blown it.

, Great American Beer Festival Survival Guide – 2023

(Photo © Brewers Association)

Drink Water Regularly and then Drink More Water

Even though this is so obvious, an event of this scale startles first-timers and encourages rookie mistakes…

Water or Curieux from Allagash Brewing? Agua or Heady Topper? You choose.

See what we mean? Be smart and punctuate your day with water at regular intervals and if you think you’ve had enough, you haven’t.

Sample Don’t Guzzle

If you don’t love what you’re drinking it dump it out immediately… (That’s what those buckets are for).

Using this disciplined strategy you’ll be able to explore more new beers and breweries without staggering around like a college kid.

And you’ll have the energy to negotiate Day 2 like a player, hangover-free.

, Great American Beer Festival Survival Guide – 2023

(Photo © Brewers Association)

Have a Plan (or Don’t)

There are two schools of thought when it comes to navigating a drinking session successfully and because we’re American Craft Beer, we come down solidly on both sides.

Some argue strongly for studying the floor plan intensely the night before you hit your first session (as if you’re not already out on the town drinking your way across Denver’s many boutiques taprooms).

Having a map on hand is always useful (assuming you can hang on to it after a couple of beers) and downloading the 2022 GABF app  is pretty essential (again assuming you don’t get so buzzed that your phone gets misplaced. This is the GABF these kinds of buzzkills will and do happen!

Others take a more Zen approach to the massive beer hall and go wherever their whim takes them…After all, most of these breweries are gonna be fantastic and every one of them will be serving their best beers.

If you opt for a more casual and intuitive approach and decide to throw any kind of game plan out the window, we still have some suggestions…

Avoid the largest crowds by working the outsides of the hall. For some unknown reason these outskirts are the last to get crowded and will allow you the opportunity to actually hang with the brewers in a more comfortable and less frenzied space.

And no matter your approach, plan to arrive at any drinking session early…Why wait in line, only to wait in other beer lines later?


All photo credits:  ‘Photo © Brewers Association’

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