After three loooong years (thanks, pandemic), the Great American Beer Festival is finally back at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. And while the official three-day beer megabash, Oct. 6-8, will be 30% smaller this year, according the Brewers Association, which hosts it, breweries, bars, restaurants and other venues around the city plan to show out with some of the same enthusiasm they had before the pandemic. At least that’s the plan.
It remains to be seen whether people will again party like its 2019. Not only that, but Denver has changed. The Falling Rock Taphouse, once the unofficial headquarters for GABF partiers, closed in 2021, while some other familiar haunts, like Euclid Hall and FreshCraft are also gone. In their place, however, Denver’s beer scene has continued to evolve, with the openings of young and popular venues like Ephemeral Taproom, Cohesion Brewing and MobCraft Beer.
Wanna dive in? Here’s our guide to what’s going on during the week before the festival and through the weekend. The Denver Post will continue to add to this list as we hear of new events.
Saturday, Oct. 1
Barrels & Bottles Brewery has something to say on the eve of Great American Beer Festival week. “Leading into GABF when all the taps around the state are being taken over with DDH, imperial, pastry, triple fruited, gooey, sticky and what-have-you-nots, [we thought] it would be great to get together and celebrate light crisp lager in all its glory,” the brewpub wrote on Facebook. As such, its Camp George West location, 1055 Orchard St, Golden, will host its first Krispy King Lager Competition featuring 20 breweries pouring 20 lagers. Brewery reps will be on hand all day.
“With gratitude and appreciation,” Our Mutual Friend Brewing, 2810 Larimer St., humbly hosts its 9th Annual Gratitude Party from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. — an event that takes place annually on the Saturday before GABF. The festivities include live DJs, new merchandise, live DJs, and specialty releases like Gratitude Nine – Lingonberry Saison; Customer Appreciation Session IPA; The Big Expense English-Style Barleywine; and many more.
Wednesday, Oct. 5
PorchDrinking, the influential Denver-based booze and culture blog, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a GABF throwdown featuring some of the breweries and other manufacturers that have “inspired, supported and helped” its staff of writers over the years. More than 35 breweries, distilleries, cideries and more will be on hand at York Street Yards, 3833 Steele Street, Suite 1332, (near Cohesion Beer Co.) for the PorchDrinking 10th Anniversary Beer Fest. They include plenty of local beer makers, as well as several heavy hitters from out of state. Tickets are $60-75 and include VIP early admission at 5 p.m. and general admission at 6 p.m.
Baere Brewing, 320 Broadway, brings in sour beers from 10 breweries around the state for a Celebration of Sours, starting at noon. They are: Cerebral Brewing, TRVE Brewing, Wild Provisions, Purpose Brewing, Our Mutual Friend, Crooked Stave, Primitive Beer, Westbound & Down, Novel Strand and Mockery Brewing. There will also be glassware, food, non-sour beer, non-alcoholic options and one of Baere’s favorite beer releases of the year on tap and in cans.
It’s Wisconsin Wednesday at MobCraft/Dee Tacko, 2403 Champa St., which is celebrating breweries from MobCraft’s home state. The newly-opened beer makers will also be serving a traditional Wisconsin fish fry; Lakefront Brewery will bring the cheese curds.
All aboard at Union Station, where the Terminal Bar throws a GABF pre-party by ceding its taps to some special and rare beers. There will also be swag. Details are TBA.
Thursday, Oct. 6
MobCraft/Dee Tacko, 2403 Champa St., is celebrating diversity and inclusion in the beer industry with a focus on beers brewed by brewers from underrepresented communities.
Beer writer and educator David Nilsen, in town for GABF, will lead a curated chocolate and beer pairing at Lady Justice Brewing, 9735 E. Colfax Ave. from 1 to 3 p.m. Nilsen, an advanced Cicerone and host of Bean to Barstool podcast will discuss each of the four chocolates he has paired with Lady Justice beers, including the new Barrel-Aged Rye Porter, aged six months in a Laws Whiskey House Secale Rye Whiskey barrel. Get tickets, $30, here.
Friday, Oct. 7
The Denver Rare Beer Tasting returns to the McNichols Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave., for its lucky 13th edition. Organizers have released a list of 58 of America’s leading craft breweries who will be serving unusual, rare and highly sought-after beers. An organizer for Pints for Prostates, a prostate cancer awareness group, the tasting costs $200 per person, and the tickets include lunch, a tasting glass, a t-shirt and all the beer you can drink. There will only be one session this year, from noon to 4 p.m. (and only 600 tickets available). Get info at www.pintsforprostates.org.
MobCraft/Dee Tacko, 2403 Champa St., and Wyoming’s Melvin Brewing will revive the Falling Rock Taphouse’s former tradition of hosting an IPA Throwdown. The draft lines will be full of the most sought-after IPAs in craft beer, and former Falling Rock owner Chris Black will be on hand.
It’s GABFiesta time at Raices Brewing, which celebrates diversity within the craft brewing industry by offering live music and beer starting at 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 8
After days of indulging in American-made beer, perhaps you’d like some international flavor to cleanse your palate. Hop over to Cerveceria Colorado, 1635 Platte St., which brings back its annual Great Mexican Beer Fiesta. Attractions include lucha libre wrestling matches, folklorico dancing, a market featuring artisans, food trucks, and, of course, beer. Cerveceria Colorado, an offshoot of Denver Beer Co., collaborated with several Mexican brewers on special releases for the event featuring ingredients native to their home region. Those include a prickly pair and blue corn saison made in partnership with Cervecería Hércules; a pilsner with soursop fruit and agave syrup made in partnership with Cerveza Caserío; a pozol porter created in partnership with Cervecería Cielito Lindo and Denver’s Cultura Chocolate; and a ginger-hibiscus seltzer made in partnership with Cervecera Cru Cru.
Okay, so it’s not beer, but it does have GABF in its name. The Post Chicken & Beer in LoHi, 1575 Boulder St., will hold its Great American Bubbles & French Fry Festival (GABFFF) from 3 to 4:30 p.m. featuring “a hot and crispy assortment of fries, think: shoestring, waffle, steak, tots, potato chips, sidewinders, chicken thigh fries and more. With all the dipping sauces you can dream of: Green Goddess, Spicy Mayo, Black Garlic, Dukes Mayo, Caviar Beurre Blanc, Wendy’s Frosty Dairy Desserts, Ketchup,” organizers say. (A VIP session with Levasseur Trait de Saison 2015, caviar deviled eggs, fried chicken bites and caviar bumps, starts at 2:15.) General admission tickets are $59 per person while VIP is $139. Buy them here.
MobCraft Beer/Dee Tacko, 2403 Champa St, tips its cap to the lighter beer styles with its Lager Lounge, which will roll out lagers from a variety of breweries.
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