2018 Great American Beer Fest: What Can I Expect?

Discussion in 'Mountain' started by Original_Gravity, Jul 15, 2018.

  1. Original_Gravity

    Original_Gravity Aspirant (251) Sep 15, 2014 California
    Trader

    I'm going to try to get tickets to the GABF for the first time this year - which I'm really excited about. For those out there that have attended this event in the past - I have some questions for you:

    • Do tickets tend to sell out very quickly?
    • Are the member sessions more low-key / less crowded than the public session?
    • Is the beer selection different between member/public sessions?

    Cheers!
     
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  2. dauss

    dauss Zealot (573) Aug 9, 2003 Colorado
    Industry

    • Tickets haven't sold out as quickly as in previous years, but I would expect them to be sold out within a few hours
    • The members sessions are more low key, but you'll need to be a member of the Brewers Association to get in on the Saturday afternoon session sales. It's a mix bag, but Thursday session is also pretty low key because it's a "school night"
    • Beer selections are the same, but the earlier the better. Breweries might allot beer so they last through every session. Saturday night, the last session, usually has the least beers
     
  3. chitownfanatic21

    chitownfanatic21 Initiate (154) Sep 25, 2016 Nebraska
    Trader

    In my experience, for all the public events, Thursday will sell out the quickest. Thursday night will also more of an intimate setting, as less tickets are sold. Saturday members session will be a little more crowded, but still way less than Friday or Saturday nights. 95% of the beer will be the same, but some breweries will do special pours of limited bottles during one of the times releases. For example; CCB did life is like on Thursday, something different on Friday, and Cognac Zhukov’s on Saturday. Fremont did the same; Thursday night Sam Adams will do Utopia. That being said, each session is good, and won’t miss out on really anything. But if you get a chance at Thursday tickets, I’d take it; in my experience, that is hands down the best session.

    Cheers!
     
  4. Aportolese

    Aportolese Initiate (15) Jul 14, 2018 Florida
    Trader

    A lot of people think it's getting too big, it's huge, I went last year for the first time and it was so much fun and run very well. I went to the very last public session and had 3 pours of TG Mornin Delight back to back, no one in line!
     
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  5. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,478) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Trader

    Pretty much what @dauss said. Although I don't know about tix selling out in a few hours. I thought it was 20 minutes!

    Look into the Paired session, or whatever the food option is. You won't get to sample as many beers as you would otherwise, but the food/beer pairings are quite nice. It may be for you, it may not.

    I wouldn't even look at Saturday night session.

    Keep in mind that the Fest is just one event during that week. The state is crawling with activities that are usually super duper coolio (Denver Rare Beer for example. See thread). Plenty of tap takeovers, special tappings, dinners, maybe even some wrastling.

    Recommend bringing an external liver.
     
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  6. chitownfanatic21

    chitownfanatic21 Initiate (154) Sep 25, 2016 Nebraska
    Trader

    Definitely truth in both of those statements. Thanks for mentioning those aspects. Infact this year, I'm coming into town for most of the week just for events, not even going to GABF this year.
     
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  7. NVbeer

    NVbeer Initiate (191) Oct 3, 2002 Nevada

    So many events in town anymore that even if you don’t get tickets to GABF it’s worth it. I’ve been going for 14 years and the last few years I have no problem booking hotel, air travel etc before buying tickets because of all the events.
    In regards to the fest, Thurs and Sat afternoon are my preferences, I would only go to Saturday night if the tickets were given to me.
    Look to other tickets events as well, specifically Denver Rare Beer tasting..I’ve gone every year and it doesn’t disappoint,
     
  8. COBEERHUNTER

    COBEERHUNTER Disciple (307) Jul 12, 2018 Colorado

    The past few years the tix have sold out in under 30minutes. I think it’s well worth trying to get tix for any of the sessions. Pick a day and go all in. Make sure you plan your stay in Denver for a few day during GABF. Downtown Denver and the local breweries are full of their own beer events. Many local places also have tap takeovers from outside breweries. It’s a great weekend in Denver.
     
  9. Goatpirate

    Goatpirate Initiate (38) Aug 1, 2014 Illinois
    Trader

    Does anybody know how many tickets you can buy with the member presale? I’m looking to get four tickets for Thursday and want to know if I should join the AHA. Thanks.
     
  10. bentnorton

    bentnorton Initiate (93) Apr 21, 2015 Colorado

  11. Goatpirate

    Goatpirate Initiate (38) Aug 1, 2014 Illinois
    Trader

    Thanks for the information. I knew about the 2 ticket limit for Saturday, just wanted to confirm you could still by up to six Thursday GA tickets during the presale.
     
  12. Chefie

    Chefie Initiate (105) Feb 2, 2007 Oklahoma

    As far as tickets selling out quickly, there is an unknown factor this year. They have ditched Ticketmaster in favor of AXS.

    I will be attending for the first time in a couple of years. I remember Ticketmaster being an issue in the past. I am hopeful that I can snag Paired tickets for the first time.

    As others have mentioned, Thursday night session is great. Less people, excitement in the air, easier access to bucket list/whale beers.

    Can't wait!
     
  13. goldenhopdevil

    goldenhopdevil Initiate (96) Jul 1, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Is there a good source that consolidates all of the pay-as-you-go events (tap takeovers and such)? I'll be in Denver for work and extended my trip a couple of days for hiking and beer. Didn't even realize it aligned with GABF until yesterday. I don't have any interest in a festival, but I'd love to take advantage of some other events.
     
  14. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,478) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Trader

    Check out Porch Drinking and Westword. They'll put out good summaries
     
  15. Powell014

    Powell014 Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2014 Colorado

    Last year I switched from the Members session to Thursday night and might never go back. The biggest problem with the members session is it's the most 'educated' session which means long lines for the best places. Thursday night had significantly less waiting times for stuff like Black Project, Rare Barrel, 3 Floyds, Scratch etc.
     
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  16. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,478) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Trader

    I can totally understand that.
    My approach is to try things I had not heard of before, try beers from breweries in places that I'll probably never visit (looking at you, New Jersey). With this in mind, lines are never a problem. Or maybe I go on a "style parade" and just stick to a certain style (kolsch, porter, etc).

    The rare(r) stuff I usually find around town that week, at special tappings, bottle shares, etc.
     
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  17. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,208) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    Anyone have any issues with AXS? Felt pretty painless to me.
    I'm doing Thursday and the Saturday Member's session.
    In my experience, Thursday is probably the best day if you can only do one. Everything should be still available, the staff is still in good spirits, "amateur hour" (Friday and Saturday nights) isn't in full effect, etc.
    Yet the member's session is really good, too. You can expect for a lot of RARz to be gone, but some places actually hold stuff back for that session. Toppling Goliath tends to do that. Plus, it's less crowded and a fun time to just go around and try random stuff. That's tougher to do on the other sessions.
     
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  18. surlytwinsfan

    surlytwinsfan Initiate (168) Oct 5, 2010 Oregon
    Trader

    No issues at all with AXS. I will be attending my first GABF, also hitting the Thursday evening and Saturday member sessions.
     
  19. stone4789

    stone4789 Initiate (44) Sep 1, 2014 Wisconsin

    Just moved to CO this year and I'm thinking of trying GABF for the first time. I already have tix for Shelton Bros, how does it compare? Am I gonna be seeing stuff like Trillium and Side Project stouts at GABF as well?
     
  20. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,208) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I dunno if either Trillium or Side Project are on the 2018 GABF roster, but if a brewery is there, they tend to bring at least some of their big guns. If you make a mission of it, you can probably try at least 500 beers that have been in the BA top list in the last decade. You can probably find at least 500 beers that you'd swear are poisonous, too. GABF is easier the bigger of the two, but Shelton is going to have a more "curated" list.
     
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  21. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,188) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Every year I laugh my ass off at FFF when they bring Z dust as their "big gun". Just once i would like to see some BA DL variant.
     
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  22. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,208) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    FFF is kind of notorious for not giving a damn about GABF, so I doubt that'll ever happen unless they distro here at some point. I think that was their excuse.
     
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  23. NVbeer

    NVbeer Initiate (191) Oct 3, 2002 Nevada

    It’s interesting that in years past it sold out in less than an hour last year but with the switch to AXS all presale tickets appear to still be available. I assume this is due to a better purchase process compared to Ticketmaster.
     
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  24. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,208) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I think it's that combined with (supposedly) more tickets being available thanks to the larger space. Plus, at this point a lot of ticket re-sellers have Ticketmaster down to a science. The swap over to AXS nullifies some of their bots and process.
    I was prepared for the worst, but it shockingly worked rather well. It'll be interesting to see what the general ticket sales are like today. It would be funny if things make a return to the days of being able to leisurely buy tickets within a few days instead of within a few seconds.
     
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  25. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,188) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Based off the email I just received there are still members only tickets. I didn't realize they expanded the event again. It was impossible to hit my must try breweries already, this just compounds the issue. It may also be a reflection of the Shelton brothers gig coming to town as well. I haven't seen a GABF brewers list yet, and Shelton bros has some heavy hitters lined up already. I think GABF is going to see decreased numbers as a result, but this may be the best GABF so far as a result.
     
  26. Steve_0

    Steve_0 Initiate (179) Mar 14, 2012 Colorado

    I think they only increased the total ticket number from 60k to 62k, so roughly only 500 tickets extra per session. They also increased the floor space by 100k sq ft., so I doubt the increase will even be noticeable.
     
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  27. Dan_K

    Dan_K Devotee (464) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
    Trader

    We went last year to the Saturday night session and we had a blast. Lines were very reasonable and we drank a ton of beer. No lines at TG and Bottle Logic were my favorite parts. Only thing that sucked was a few places like Weldwerks had ridiculous lines.
     
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  28. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,478) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Trader

    That's good to know. I haven't been to a Sat night session since the Roosevelt administration. Or then-abouts
     
  29. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Disciple (372) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    I always found it amazing the 'coincidence' that TM took over ticket sales and the demand went through the roof :wink:

    Now its back to normal? Hmmmmm.
    While I'm sure the Shelton thingy has a bit of an impact, I doubt its really all that considerable given the demographics and sizes of each crowd.

    My plan like the previous few years is get my afternoon going with Rare Beer then wander over to the convention center and see how cheap I can get a ticket from scalpers after the event starts. Last year I think we got 4 of us in for like $75 total. It was glorious.
     
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  30. mirthywvu

    mirthywvu Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Turned 40 this year and celebrating with a lifelong friend and the spouses for the Rare Beer Fest Fri and the Sat afternoon session, so excited, it’s my first trip to Denver.

    Hotel question. So is there a place/area that anyone would recommend to stay in the city? We have a place booked super close to the convention center but I’d love easy access to the fest plus I’d love to be able to walk around to great pubs near the hotel. Is that doable from the Convention Center or should we look somewhere else close by? Is Denver generally a good walking city?

    Thanks!
     
  31. Chefie

    Chefie Initiate (105) Feb 2, 2007 Oklahoma

    I too had a great experience with purchasing tickets on AXS. Based on previous years I was prepared with a laptop and an iPad. It was all overkill. The ticket process was a breeze. I decided to go with Paired and Member's only. As of Wednesday night Paired tickets are still available.

    At any rate, I agree Thursday is a great session if you can only do one. The excitement level is palpable. Special tappings, access to Brewers, less of a party atmosphere.

    This will be my first go at Paired though...pumped.
     
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  32. Dan_K

    Dan_K Devotee (464) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado
    Trader

    One thing to keep in mind for last year. They shuffled the whole space around to make a bit more room. They also did a better job of scanning people before it started so people got in quicker. They put them into a "holding pen" area based on when you arrived. I would recommend arriving 45-60 minutes prior to official start time if you want to maximize your time inside. You'll also get short lines for the first 2-5 places you visit if you get in early.

    And I should mention, the Sat evening session did have beers that were sold out. So if there is that one whale you are hoping to get, you might be disappointed. But we were able to go through the Lost Abbey line 3x in about 10 minutes.

    Eat a good, normal meal maybe 30 minutes to an hour before you go. I brought a pretzel necklace and tried to drink water samples every 3 beers or so.
     
  33. Darian_Garcia

    Darian_Garcia Initiate (80) Jul 11, 2015 Florida

    Question. Did beeradvocate get rid of selling tickets? I missed getting tickets for Friday and Saturday. Maybe a cash transaction is why they got rid of it.
     
  34. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,478) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Trader

    Downtown Denver is walkable or at least a quick Uber/Lyft ride around. River North (RiNO) area is close by, walkable for some I guess.

    Outside of downtown is not walkable. Check out the RTD Light Rail maps/stations for use of the choo-choo. My recommendation is to not stay downtown, but along the light rail. I've come to despise downtown for many non-beer related issues. Not many "pubs" downtown...lots of faux elite places.
    Only beer brings me back there (~twice a year)

    Non-downtown stops:
    Hogshead Brewing
    Bull & Bush Brewpub
    Comrade Brewing
    Strange Craft Beer Co.
    Dry Dock Brewing (north and south)
    Old Town Arvada
    Station 26 Brewing
     
  35. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,478) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Trader

    Didn't know BeerAdvocate sold tickets :grimacing:
     
  36. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,478) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Trader

    And step to the side after you get your sample! :sunglasses:
     
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  37. Dicers

    Dicers Poo-Bah (1,646) Sep 2, 2012 Colorado
    Premium Trader

    :thinking_face::thinking_face:
     
  38. stone4789

    stone4789 Initiate (44) Sep 1, 2014 Wisconsin

    This. Also, Our Mutual Friend and Ratio don't disappoint. They're by Shake Shack, if you're into that sort of thing.
     
  39. seniorshmently

    seniorshmently Initiate (99) Oct 4, 2010 Colorado

    This cannot be emphasized enough. The amount of people that stand at the front and try to sample multiple beers while a line is formed behind them is mind boggling. Made even better when they are trying to chat up a volunteer that they think is associated with the brewery.
     
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  40. Bennettrox

    Bennettrox Aspirant (236) Sep 14, 2010 California
    Trader

    Nothing to add here but I just purchased a ticket for the Thursday session as a first timer. Really excited and can't wait to mark off a bucket list item! Hope to see you all there :grinning: