How many craft beers can you sample in one day? Nearly 49,000 lucky drinkers who scored tickets will get a chance to test their limits at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival. Held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on Thursday–Saturday, October 11–13, this year’s nationwide event features over 550 breweries and more than 2,200 different brews.
Breweries in attendance hail from around the world. California will have the most representation, with 98 different companies making the trip, and Colorado is second, with 82 locals represented at the fest. Oregon is sending 37 breweries, the DMV (Delaware/Maryland/Virgina) region is offering 25, as is Texas, and Pennsylvania will have 19 breweries vying to bring medals home. Check out an interactive map here.
One of the most exciting parts of the event is the annual Great American Beer Festival Beer Competition, which brings together 100 beer professionals to judge entries in 84 different style categories, many divided further into sub-categories. The explosion in American craft beer means entries will include beers vying for gold, silver or bronze in styles as specific as Fruited Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer, South German-Style Bernsteinfarbenes Weizen and American-Style Barley Wine Ale.
Judging takes place over five different three-hour judging sessions, during which time judges will rate describe characteristics such as aroma, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel, as well as choose from descriptors like “metallic,” “grassy,” “astringent” and “vegetal.” A medal at GABF can mean a lot for an up and coming brewery, and even a bronze is touted as a sign of a truly great brew.
What else is there of interest? Beer and food pairings are the new hot gourmet trend, with high-end restaurants around the nation upping their beer programs, hosting tasting dinners and suggesting brews in place of wines. A special Beer & Food Pavilion will feature demonstration cooking events, showcasing pairing of different beers with foods like sausages, seafood, cheese, sweets and — that suds standby — pretzels.
We’ll have several representatives of The Drink Nation at the festival on all three days, so watch for tweets, Facebook posts and eventually, once we recover, a few recaps of what went down. Let us know if you’re going, we’d love to meet up and raise a glass together. Cheers!
Photos via the Great American Beer Festival on Facebook
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