With as many beers and breweries pouring on the floor at GABF, you’ll want to have a plan in place beforehand.

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is upon us.  With 800+ breweries and 3900+ beers to try in a 5-hour session, you’ll want to have a plan of attack to make the most of your festival.  Here’s what we at Focus on the Beer recommend:

So. Many. Kegs. Photo © Brewers Association

Get the Mobile App

The mobile app (in Apple and Android forms) is free, and an essential means to get a handle on where the beers you want to try will be.  It can help you find your favorite (or new favorite) breweries on the festival floor, thanks to the built-in map, and plan your routes from brewery to brewery.  It also provides some pre-selected ‘beer tours’ that can guide you through different styles and categories of beer – a great asset for the ‘I’m not sure where to start’ crowd, or anyone new to the festival.  Featured Tours: Sour Puss, The Im-PALE-er, Session-Me Street, Dark Vader, Unicorn Beers, Fear No Beer

Social Up Your Medias

Use the 2017 GABF Hashtags on all your social media accounts: #HoppyPlace and #GABF

Tag @focusonthebeer while you’re at it, we’d love to see what you’re up to! Here’s our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Strike Close to Home

When you first enter the festival hall, you’re in an ideal location to hit up a few of the best features for the 2017 GABF sessions:  The Heavy Medal area, Pro-Am, and Meet the Brewer sections are all just off to your left.

Let’s break down why you want to hit these up on your way in.

  • Heavy Medal – Past medal winning beers are being poured here.  A great opportunity to try some of the best of the best of the best.  The booth is set up in ‘The Backyard’ area of the festival.

    Heavy Medal booth at GABF – Photo © Brewers Association
  • Pro-Am – These are homebrews submitted by breweries who collaborated with skilled homebrewers to brew a winning recipe from a homebrew competition.  It’s a great place to get a variety of different styles scaled up from a homebrewer’s hopes and dreams.  Look for this in the Homebrew Marketplace

    GABF Pro-Am Booth – Photo © Brewers Association
  • Meet the Brewer – Unlike many brewers’ booths at the GABF where volunteers pour beer for the brewery, this section is staffed by the brewers and their staff.  You can learn about their brewery and the beer from the people who create it.  This section is easy to find because the rows run in a different direction than the rest of the booths, and it is fairly centrally located at the festival.  We know a few Colorado brewers are pouring in this area, so stop in and say ‘Hello!’ to them.  Drink their beer too.

Got a Favorite or Must Try?  Hit it First

Yeah, you might have to trek across the festival floor to get to them, but if there is even a small chance they run out of the beer you want to try, you want to be there as soon as possible to ensure you get a taste.  After that, you may resume your regularly scheduled drinking.

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Here’s a fun challenge for newcomers and old school GABF attendees alike – try the brewery with no line, the one you’ve never heard of, or the place in a section of the country you have never visited.  Sure, you may not get the very best beer every time, but I have found some great gems hiding in the booths that nobody will hit until the medals are announced and your ‘mystery brewer’ is suddenly a medal winner.  It happens all the time!  Try this approach and surprise yourself.

And Most Importantly – Hydrate

Seriously.  Drink your body weight in water.  Ok, that’s a bit extreme, but try to drink 8 ounces every hour or so.  You’ll thank us the next morning.  You’ll be drinking a lot of beer, and that, plus altitude will dry you out.

Cheers fellow GABF attendee!  We’ll see you on the floor. Well, hopefully not literally on the floor…

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