Today is the first day of the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. Excitement builds as people arrive from all over the country/world to sample many of America’s finest brews.
I will add posts here during the day as events unfold.
8:00 AM – Time to attack the day! Looking for a good breakfast and then down to media check-in at GABF central and say”Hi” to the Big Blue Bear.
11:00 AM – Stopped by the Colorado Convention Center to pick up my media credentials. Saw the Big Blue Bear waiting to get in. I wonder what kind of beer he likes. Maybe a HavaBlue from Lake Havasu Brewing, a delicious wheat beer made with blueberry and vanilla bean.
So far this morning the crowd has not begun to queue yet. In a few hours this stairwell will be packed twenty across and chest to back closeness as thirsty beer geeks try to be the first to try their favorite beers. With over 550 brewers and 2,700 beers, there is ample opportunity to be the first to try something, somewhere.
1:00 PM – Lunch at Cheeky Monk
I had a pre-function lunch at the Cheeky Monk, a Belgian Ale Bistro in the Capitol Hill District. I paired a Boulevard Nommo Dubbel with a Croque Monsieur (ham and Gouda cheese sandwich). Both were delightful. Then I tried the Sampler #2 which included:
- Deilirium Tremens – a golden ale with fruity, yeasty nose
- Maredsous Brune – slightly maltier with a toffee and chocolate finish
- Kasteel Rouge – a ghastly sour cherry concoction that is not even related to beer
- Dekoninck Amber – a nice session ale with mild fruity overtones.
I really only liked the Maredsous. The others were okay, and the Kasteel – had it been my only exposure to Belgian ales – would have turned me off to the style completely.
4:00 PM Heading out again toward downtown. Media folks get in 30 minutes early to snap a few pictures and grab quick interviews before the horde arrives.
5:00 PM I am inside. The bagpipers are warming up. Volunteers are hurrying to their respective stations. Brewers are chatting with their crews and fellow brewers. Everybody seems to be very happy and excited to be here.
5:30 PM The happy throngs of revelers have been allowed into the venue. “Raise your arm. Show your wrist band. Have your ticket out and ready to pick up your tasting cup.” Repeated over and over again as the thousands of folks climbing the stairs as pipers drone Scotland the Brave and various other pipe tunes.
Inside the event floor, guides point people to the two tasting cup pick up points. “You must show your ticket to get a tasting glass. Lines are on the left and right and the right is shorter right now.”
People move quickly, some at a dead run, to get a glass and head to their favorite brewers. Some head directly to the souvenir stand to pick up an event shirt, commemorative glass, or a clever shirt from a brewery that may not be part of their local scene. I was on the lookout for a Weasel Boy t-shirt, but did not see one.
Here is a collage of the happy festival goers and brewers at Day 1:
Photography and content by Bob Shoemaker (email@example.com)
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