I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, but I went to GABF and lived to tell the tale.
Right after posting my Day 2 update, I grabbed my badge and hoofed it back over to the convention center for the award ceremony. The format of the ceremony is that every category (there are like 90-some) has three winners, a bronze, a silver, and a gold. They made their way down the list of beer styles, announcing the winners for each.
It was fascinating to see how many different styles were being judged, and also to see which styles had the most entries. It didn’t take long for some of Philly’s local breweries to start taking home some awards. Dock Street, Sly Fox, Neshaminy, Yards and 2SP (Gold for The Russian, two years in a row) all had their names announced and their beers honored. For the full list of winners, head over here. They had beer flowing out in the lobby, and the theater was packed with representatives from all the breweries. It was a raucous celebration.
After the awards we all headed back into the convention hall for Session 3. Have to say, this was the toughest of all the sessions I went to just because it started so early. I was beat from the night before but still managed to seek out some great beer. Now that the awards were given out, I went around trying as many of the winners as I could.
After an hour or two, I made my way back to the hotel to rest up and recharge. I honestly wasn’t totally sure if I had it in me to make it to Session 4. But, come on. This is GABF. I couldn’t just throw in the town in the fourth quarter. So at 5, I ventured out once more to the convention center and made the rounds to all the booths I missed. I had been warned that the Saturday night crowd was among the rowdiest, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by my beer nerd brethren. While there were people who were definitely there to party, the lines actually might have been the shortest on Saturday night and the geeks most engaged. Here’s a round up of my favorite’s from Session 3 and 4:
Witty Moron – Stone Brewing
Leo V. Ursus: Inferos – Firestone Walker
Feral One Batch 4 – Firestone Walker
Bean N’ Gone – 2SP Brewing
Oude Tart With Raspberries – Bruery Terrux
Elevated IPA – La Cumbre Brewing
Barn Phantom Gose with Blueberry – Triton Brewing
Attack Frequency – Modern Times
Hubert MPA – Melvin Brewing
After that I was down for the count and turned in for the night. The entire weekend was a blast. The Great American Beer Festival is insane, overwhelming, delicious and all consuming. I tried literally hundreds of beers and didn’t even make a dent on the thousands that were pouring. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
The next day we headed to the airport early and took off for Philly. Had a Voodoo Ranger on the plane just for good measure.