Great American Beer Festival 2019 - Preview

Another year, another Great American Beer Festival in Denver to tempt our palates and challenge our livers.

As always, this year’s festival brings changes based on the lessons learned in previous events. Let’s break down what you’ll see in 2019.

What’s gone this year?

Gone are the alphabetical aisles from last year and we’re back to the regional format, along with the meet the brewer section - which is always fun to visit. The alphabetical arrangement was a much-maligned change last year and we’re happy to see a return to the old regional format. Check out the festival map here.

Also gone are the plastic taster glasses for the non-member sessions. This change is largely prompted by the venue being unable to recycle the type of plastic used to make the tasters. As a result of this change, we’re back to actual glass glassware again. Back in the mid-2000s, the change was made to plastic glassware for the evening sessions, and we’re not sad to see the plastic go. While the potential breakage issues from dropped glassware will loom large, it should outweigh the recycling issue and quality feel of having a nice collectible glass.

What’s new?

A new GABF ‘app’ that isn’t really an app. This is one we’ll watch closely as it’s largely web-based and the convention center is not known for having consistent or speedy internet with that many people in attendance. We’re hoping for a positive experience with the app but remain cautious based on past experience.

More food trucks on the floor. Always great to have more food options. I think we’ll all miss the Buffalo Wild Wings tent this year, but having some extra food around is always a good idea in a beer festival of this size.

There are still tickets available! Thursday night and Saturday night are not yet sold out! This is the first time in a while that there have been tickets still available so close to the fest start. If you were waiting to get tickets you still can! Get tickets here.

What’s the same?

Tons of great beer. More and more every year it seems. Always a good thing!

Awards for the brewers are held on Saturday morning, so you can get your hands on medal-winning beers at the member’s session Saturday afternoon right after they are announced.

Jameson Whiskey has returned with their Barrel-Aged Beer Garden featuring their collaborations with breweries across the country. It’s always a good plan to spend a few minutes of your session there.

Any last-minute advice for the drinking public?

Don’t forget to lay down a solid late lunch or early dinner before the session and drink some water along the way. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Nobody has time for bad beer. If you run into a beer you don’t like, dump it in the handy buckets on each table and move along to something else.

Avoid long lines. There are great beers out there from breweries you may never have heard of. After you slay a couple whale beers you want to try, bounce around to a few unknown breweries and find an unexpected favorite!

Cheers to the 2019 Great American Beer Festival! We’ll see you there!

Josh Howard