The history of the Great American Beer Festival is the history of craft brewing magnified. It started in 1982 as a one-night event, held during the fourth annual National Homebrew and Microbrewery Conference.
Scientists publish family tree of brewers’ yeast; Nebraska banishes homebrew from beer festivals; London borough gives pubs legal protection; and Maryland breweries collaborate on beer benefiting flood victims.
Lenox Mercedes was raised in New York City during hip-hop’s golden era. Years later, he’s tapping kegs while Atlantans dance to classic beats at one of the beer festivals hosted by his company, High-Gravity Hip-Hop.
Far too many beer drinkers are obsessed with a handful of brewers who create hype. Don’t get sucked in, try this instead: Try something new or unfamiliar and then talk about it, because you’re definitely missing out otherwise.
American brewers win at European awards; wild hop variety makes commercial beer debut; SweetWater to build West Coast brewery; Wynkoop revives Beer Drinker of the Year awards; Bill Siebel passes away at 69; and Constellation Brands to acquire Ballast Point.
As the popularity of craft breweries spreads, so does their presence at larger, music-focused festivals like Vermont’s Hop Jam, Colorado’s Telluride Blues & Brews, Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival and West Virginia’s All Good Festival.
Even though small-batch beer holds only about 1 percent by volume of today’s German beer market, the legacy of handmade beer has endured years of macrobrewery consolidation and is finally coming out on the other side.
The Great American Beer Festival and its sponsor, the Brewers Association, seem to have lost their way. While other long-running festivals, including the Great Taste of the Midwest and the Oregon Brewers Festival, remain true to their roots, the GABF seems unable to decide what it wants to be.