GABF Kicks Off with Barrels of Fun

Photos: Neill Pieper

Photos: Neill Pieper

Healthy Choices, Old Favorites Offered Along with Loads of Entertainment

By The Thirst Colorado Team

Thousands of faithful beer geeks descended upon downtown Denver this week to enjoy the Great American Beer Festival, the nation’s largest beer pouring.

This year’s GABF, Oct. 3-5, offers many new experiences for festival-goers to enjoy beyond just sampling beer. The Boulder-based Brewers Association, which lobbies on behalf of breweries across the U.S., produces the annual festival and competition, held in the Colorado Convention Center.

Brewers Association Marketing Director Ann Obenchain says the festival is bigger and better than ever with more than 4,000 beers poured by at least 800 breweries.

With only 321 medals available, the odds of taking home a gold this year are slim and the competition will be stiff. Each brewery was allowed to enter up to five categories with a total of more than 9,000 brews submitted this year.

This year’s lineup includes the re-established regional setup, meaning breweries are grouped by their region of the country throughout the Convention Center.


On Thursday and Friday evening the annual Paired event features chef-prepared bites that are matched up with brews from across the country. Denver’s Mercantile Dining and Provisions paired up with Lawson’s Finest Liquids from Vermont. Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction was matched up with Vernacular, a brewery in Milwaukee.


For the second year, Jameson Caskmates had its own barrel-aged beer garden, featuring 22 collabs from breweries that have aged beer in Jameson barrels. Great Divide Brewing Co. in Denver was part of the project and is pouring two brews that were aged in Jameson barrels.

If you’re looking for a way to stay in the game longer during your session (I.E. not overdoing it) check out a few of these health driven brews:

  • Holidaily Brewing Co.: Riva Stout (Gluten Free)

  • Avery Brewing Co.: Pacer IPA (100 Calories, 3.5 Carbs per 12 oz)

  • Odell Brewing Co.: Good Behavior (110 Calories, 4% ABV per 12 oz)

  • Oskar Blues Brewery: One-y (100 Calories, 4% ABV per 12 oz)

For those looking for a deeper dive into their favorite brew, many Colorado breweries are featured in this year’s “Meet the Brewer” section. You can meet the minds behind your favorite peanut butter stout, or fresh hop IPA at the following Colorado breweries.

  • 4 Noses Brewing Company

  • Baere Brewing Company

  • Banded Oak Brewing Company

  • Bent Barley Brewing Company

  • Boggy Draw Brewery

  • Bootstrap Brewing Co

  • Boulder Beer Co

  • Bull & Bush Brewery

  • Cerveceria Colorado

  • City Star Brewing

  • CO-Brew

  • Coda Brewing Company

  • Colorado Plus

  • Denver Beer Co

  • Dos Luces Brewery

  • Dostal Alley Brewing Co

  • Dry Dock Brewing Co

  • Factotum Brewhouse

  • Fiction Beer Company

  • Great Divide Brewing Co

  • Guanella Pass Brewing Company, LLC

  • Halfpenny Brewing Company

  • High Hops Brewery

  • Holidaily Brewing Co

  • Horse & Dragon Brewing Company

  • Jagged Mountain Brewery

  • Jessup Farm Barrel House

  • Joyride Brewing Co

  • Kokopelli Beer Company

  • Launch Pad Brewery

  • Left Hand Brewing Company

  • Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company

  • Living the Dream Brewing Co.

  • Los Dos Potrillos Mexican Restaurant y Cervecería

  • Loveland Aleworks

  • Maxline Brewing

  • Mountain Sun Breweries

  • Odd13 Brewing Inc

  • Over Yonder Brewing Company

  • Prost Brewing

  • Ratio Beerworks

  • Strange Craft Beer Co

  • Timnath Beerwerks

  • Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub

  • Twisted Pine Brewing Co

  • VisionQuest Brewing Company

  • WeldWerks Brewing Co.

  • West Flanders Brewing Co

  • Wibby Brewing

  • Wynkoop Brewing Co

This year’s Ikon Pass Stage presented by WinterWonderGrass is held in The Backyard, GABF’s playground inside the fest. Three sets of live music are scheduled during each session from performers such as Vince Herman and Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon on Thursday, and Telluride Bluegrass winners, Wood Belly, on Saturday night. 

The Backyard also features lawn games, a tasting booth with 50 previously awarded beers and a karaoke stage. Look for the silent disco, a collaboration beer competition booth and a designated driver lounge with non-alcoholic beverages and massage chairs.