If you haven’t been beaten down by GABF wrapups on every beer blog known to man feel free to keep reading. I think the best way to sum up the Great American Beer Festival is “holy cow.” It was a few days (maybe too many) of some of the best beer minds in the world gathering to share their passion with like minds and casual revelers alike.
The first GABF session started with a roar (literally, with a bagpipe band) and thousands of thirsty attendees rushed in to grab their one ounce samples of the best beers available. Russian River, Lost Abbey, The Bruery and New Glarus seemed to have perpetually long lines throughout the festival. Perhaps because they were offering some of the most sought after beers. Throughout the festival, however, the longest line seemed to be for the cheese, yep that’s right the cheese. If anyone knows what was so special about the little toothpicks with a cube of cheese, please feel free to let us know.
Some of my favorites were Founders’ Canadian Breakfast Stout, Shorts’ Key Lime Pie, Fat Head’s Collaborative Evil, and the Bruery’s Oude Tart. But there are way too many favorites to put here. Pretty much anything sour caught my attention, some of the best I found were from Lost Abbey, Snake River Brewing, and O’Dell.
But, the beer was just the main attraction. There were countless panels and other events during the festival that demanded some attention. The Farm to Table pavilion during the first two sessions was a huge draw, pairing local fresh food with amazing beers. Small plate samples included sausage with mashed potatoes, buffalo sliders, and a BLT with prosciutto.
During every session of the festival the sheer number of eager drinkers was somewhat overwhelming and the outfits some donned almost created a feeling of sensory overload. Lederhosen with Beer and Bacon socks, banana and watermelon suits, and a team of safety first helmeted drinkers were just a few of the memorable costumes.
The best session, in my opinion, was Saturday afternoon. With fewer attendees and a less frat party feel, it was a great opportunity for friends to share their favorites and wander the hall in search of some rare beers. The medals were announced during the session, sending some attendees to find the more surprising winners before they ran out of beer.
If you were lucky enough to attend even one session, I’m sure you will remember to buy your tickets early to secure your spot in next year’s festivities.