We’re back! Doug here, writing once again from Denver, covering this year’s Great American Beer Festival shenanigans. I just got a text from my girlfriend back in Philly that my car won’t start and I don’t even care because GABFFFF!!
Last year was my first time at GABF. I cut my teeth, I drank hundreds of different beers, endured the weeklong hangover. This year I did not come to play. I know my lay of the land and I’m here to once again sacrifice my liver to bring loyal Draught Lines readers a peek at what’s what at the biggest beer event in American craft beer.
First off: the team. Once again I’m traveling with the one and only Ed Friedland. A legend in all things craft beer, Ed is truly in his element at GABF. Also with us this year is Alex Bokulich, Director of Operations at Bru Craft & Wurst, Uptown Beer Garden, The Tradesman and U-Bahn (Is that all of them? Dude oversees like fifty bars…)
We made the trip out a day early this year, since everyone likes to hit the town before the official GABF sessions start on Thursday. We caught our flight out of Philly at 8 AM (not before a few quick beers at Chickie’s & Pete’s with the Iron Hill crew) and landed in Denver around 10:30 AM.
Ed, Alex and I bumped into 2SP’s multi-time GABF gold medal winner Bob Barrar at baggage claim, so we all split an Uber and headed into the city. We checked in and hit the street in search of beer and food.
First big difference from last year is all the damn scooters! Those blue bike share thingys have taken over Philly, but here in Denver it’s all about the shared electric scooters. They don’t even have a dock! People just ride them to wherever they’re going, leave them on the sidewalk until someone else comes along and picks it up. I haven’t tried it yet, but god willing, I will. I think I need to download an app? More on this later…
We made our way to Freshcraft on Blake Street. They have a ton of taps and a helluva grilled cheese sandwich. I started my trip with a River North Mountain Haze and then a Great Divide Hazy IPA. From there we made our way to the Great Divide taproom on Arapahoe St. and tried a few of their small batch brews. This was also where I witnessed a man in a wheelchair holding an electric scooter out in front of him, barreling down the street in the bike lane. A true engineering marvel, never change Denver…
From there we walked over to one of my favorite Denver breweries, Our Mutual Friend. This place fires on all cylinders. Their cozy brewery is decked out, their artwork and merch is on point, and best of all the beers are deliciouuuuus. We had a few and ran into Bob Barrar again, who now was rolling with more of the 2SP crew. Soon after that, Casey Hughes and the Coppertail team showed up.
It started raining so we all camped inside the packed brewery and had a few more beers. After that, our growing crew all ventured through the storm down the street to Ratio Beerworks. I had a few more beers and slipped out to head back to the hotel for some dinner and some much needed rest.
So we got our feet wet yesterday, but today is when the real fun begins. We’re going to hit a few more breweries and bars for lunch and then head out to the Convention Center for GABF’s first official session.
Stay tuned for more! Cheers.