Inspired by the traditional south central Mexican sauce, which can contain up to 20 different ingredients, brewers across the country are putting their own unique spins on mole-inspired beers—and the public can’t get enough.
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.
For non-profit 1400 Miles’ “Big Ride,” a dozen cyclists completed a 15-day, 1,400-mile journey from Cedar Park, Texas, to Denver to raise awareness about prostate health using beer and bikes as conversation starters.
Once an industry staple, Pale Ale has ceded shelf space to the popular IPA and its Imperial and Session cousins. Has the former flagship style seen its last days, or can it be reborn with a renewed emphasis on hop and malt varieties?
In the past, including any alcohol options was enough to set a fast casual restaurant apart from competitors; now many chains are looking to customize their regional selections by offering local beers.
New California law combats keg theft; GABF beer brewed entirely with N.C. ingredients; Hill Farmstead expansion to double production capacity; and Maui Brewing joins in-flight beers from craft breweries.
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.
IPA wasn’t always a thing. During the early days of the Great American Beer Festival, the event’s much-lauded tasting competition didn’t even include the style. Brewers didn’t make it and probably didn’t even know what it was.
There aren’t too many places in Wyoming like Thai Me Up—the cozy, dimly lit Jackson Hole, Wyo., brewpub that pairs West Coast IPAs with Thai food and two big-screen televisions featuring kung fu flicks. Actually, never mind Wyoming; there aren’t many places like Thai Me Up anywhere.
The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is one of the largest events of its kind, and this year’s was the biggest yet: 49,000 tickets sold, and 580 breweries pouring 2,700 beers in the massive Denver Convention Center.
It’s October 1st, and the cavernous Colorado Convention Center is packed with throngs of grinning Great American Beer Festival attendees. But beyond the buzzed masses the dull roar of the public fades into hushed utterances. It’s about 10 minutes before the GABF’s 30th annual awards ceremony begins.
Good beer, it seems, is in the pink. So what better time to look at what craft brewers are doing wrong? For its amazing range of tastes, styles, strengths and colors, so much of American craft beer seems to taste naïve, unworldly and lacking in complexity
In 1982, Charlie Papazian threw a festival. What he calls an “astounding” crowd for the time (800 people) showed up to a hotel in Boulder, Colo., to drink some craft beer. This fall’s Great American Beer Festival sold out in one week to 49,000 attendees, and Papazian is still at the helm.
As brewers at the GABF continue to experiment and push the definitions of beer and the boundaries of the drinking public, it’ll be interesting to see what results in the tug of war between the American and British brewing models in another 25 years.