Celebrating its 26th year, the Great American Beer Festival took place in Denver, Colorado this past week to honor the best American beers and their respective brewers. Some 49,000 people attended the event to sample over 2,700 beers from 578 craft breweries across the United States. Although there was no way for us to sample anywhere close to all of them, we had a great time sipping beer and chatting with brewers.
There were a few changes to year's festival, including a brand new Brewpub section and added space for 110 more breweries as the awards stage moved across the street. Brewpubs didn't just take the center stage within the walls of the Convention Center, they dominated at the awards ceremony—Devils Backbone Brewing Company won 8 medals and Small Brewpub of the Year, Church Brew Works won 4 medals and Large Brewpub of the Year, and Thai Me Up won 3 medals including two golds.
It's always interesting to see style trends at the festival; this year demonstrated the continuing rise of sour and barrel-aged beers in the United States. Led by craft beer juggernauts like Firestone Walker and The Bruery, many smaller breweries are following suit....and they're not waiting long to do so. For example, St. Louis brewery Perennial Artisan Ales opened 13 months ago and they poured one of our favorite beers at the Denver Rare Beer Tasting. It aged in barrels for 10 months; you do the math.
Did you attend this year's festival? Which beers are you still thinking about?
About the Author: Sean Buchan covers the Denver craft beer scene for Denver Off the Wagon in addition to doing freelance photography for Colorado breweries. You can view his beer photography here and check out his blog, Beertographer, here.