The Great American Beer Festival Survival Guide

Even if you’ve been living in a bunker somewhere, you’re probably still aware that the Great American Beer Festival is taking place in Denver this week. The Colorado Convention Center is again playing host to this massive event and craft beer gatherings are already happening all over the city. With so much serious beer on hand and with so many awesome events taking place almost hourly, it’s easy to lose one’s way – and that’s where we come in.

Welcome to ACB’s 2014 GABF Survival Guide – and pay attention because this is no joke – the health of your liver is at stake.

, The Great American Beer Festival Survival GuideThe Basics

If you were lucky enough to score tickets to this year’s GABF, better fasten your seat belts because you’re in for a wild ride. Founded in 1982, the GABF is sponsored by the Brewers Association and represents the largest collection of US beer ever served in a public tasting event (and also a private competition). The event itself starts on Thursday night with an evening session that runs from 5:30-10:00 p.m., and there’s also an evening session again on Friday night. There will be two sessions on Saturday – an afternoon BA and American Homebrewers Association “members-only” event from 12:00 noon-4:00 p.m. – followed by a final session later that evening.

Tasting sessions will offer attendees the opportunity to tour America’s brewing landscape, one ounce at a time, with access to more than 2,800 different beers from some 600 of the nation’s finest breweries.

Pace Yourself

This is the most important bit of advice we can give you – and unfortunately, it’s the most often dismissed as well. From the moment you arrive in the Mile High City, you will be besieged by the most brilliant beers in the world, and it’s incredibly easy to throw caution to the wind. Constant vigilance is called for to make sure that you don’t overdo things – and besides, staggering around the convention center is a very bad look.

Have Breakfast

Even if you’re not normally a breakfast person – you need to be here. Dining in the morning is an essential and strategic defensive move that positions you to survive several days of non-stop drinking. We insist that you also strongly consider having lunch and dinner as well – but nothing is more important than breakfast.

Get Out On the Town

The Colorado Convention Center is an enormous complex and, since it’s ground zero for the GABF, it’s easy to just stay there. Don’t make that mistake. Downtown Denver is a fascinating city to walk and it’s good for the head to get away from the crowd for a while. In addition to the multitude of events taking place all throughout the city, Denver has some great craft breweries such as River North, where you can sample unique Saisons and enjoy nearby food trucks in a quieter setting. Denver also offers some great museums, restaurants, and music venues – and even if you’re not a stoner, you might want to check out one of the city’s many legal pot emporiums.

Eat Where the Locals Eat

Since man (and woman) cannot live on beer alone, here are some places you should check out when you’re in town. Sam’s #3 is American/Mexican/Greek diner food at its best and a great place to hang with the locals. It’s been featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” and is known as one of Denver’s top places for breakfast! But don’t just come to Sam’s #3 for breakfast because everything they serve is pretty awesome. Their award-winning vegetarian green chili is a must!

Ghost Plate & Tap is another great place to get a bite downtownGhost Plate is a contemporary American bistro with a big city tavern feel. Its vibe is definitely old-school – and since Wynkoop and Breckenridge Brewery are both stakeholders – you know its bar has got it going on!

To Be Continued……

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