By Kyle Kirves
When festival-goers describe the Great American Beer Festival, a host of similes are on-tap. Comparisons to a “big kid’s candy store,” or a “beer-lover’s Disneyland,” or simply “Nirvana” abound. And it’s not hyperbole: it’s true. All of it.
But what about the brewers themselves? What do they love about the event? What, I asked, makes the Great American Beer Festival, well, great?
To a person, the brewers all answered the same way: You.
Here’s a sampling of their thoughts.
- Christian Koch, Elevation Brewing in Poncha Springs, said, “We love getting beer to people from across the country who enjoy it most. We love seeing their reactions to the beers we craft. That’s special.”
- Steve Nolan, Grist Brewing in Highlands Ranch, agrees. “It’s the people. It’s such a great vibe. People are willing to try new products out. It’s a blast. You can just feel the energy in the room.”
- “We love everybody’s enthusiasm,” Jean Ditslear, co-owner of 300 Suns in Longmont, said. “Everyone’s so excited. Everyone’s in a great mood. It’s a festival atmosphere. We love our beers being a part of that.”
- Ryan Skeels, one of the founders of Baere Brewing in Denver, includes his fellows in the fraternity of brewers in that group as well. “We like being around a bunch of people we know from the industry in a festive environment. Checking out a bunch of beers we wouldn’t normally get to try with them.”
- Davin Helden of Liquid Mechanics in Lafayette includes the volunteers as well. “The people, including the volunteers that help put it on make Great American Beer Festival what it is.”
- “We love connecting with all the great beer fans,” says MJ Sayers of Wibby Brewing (Longmont, CO). “Seeing their eyes light up when they try something they maybe didn’t think they would like and seeing that on their face. That’s great.”
So there you have it. It’s you. You, the craft connoisseur. You, the lover of all things beer related. You, the great American beer lover, that puts the “great” in Great American Beer Festival.
Kyle Kirves writes the “Art of Brewing” column for Thirst Colorado Magazine.