The Great American Beer Festival opened its doors at 5:30 pm Mountain Time in Denver, CO on Thursday. As the traditional bagpipes played, thousands of eager craft beer enthusiasts poured into the Denver Convention Center. Awaiting them were 3,743 beers of the widest variety ever, brewed by 709 different breweries from all over the United States.
This scene will play itself out three more times over the weekend, with Friday and Saturday night sessions, and a Saturday afternoon session exclusively for American Homebrewers Association (AHA) members. The AHA and the Brewers Association (BA) have put on this extraordinary event for 33 years. It remains the largest beer festival in the country, and also hosts the largest beer competition.
Brewers will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in 89 beer categories. There are 5,753 beers being judged by certified beer judges from all over the world. Winners will be acknowledged at the awards ceremony on Saturday morning.
Revelers come in a variety of attire, from hopheads and pretzels, to Waldos and Amish farmers. An astonishing number of people come as themselves! The people scenery is just part of the fun at this wonderful event. In all, 49,000 people will attend the four sessions.
The festival spills over into many of Denver’s great breweries and evening hot spots as the busses on the 16th Avenue Mall transport folks to extended parts of the downtown area.