Written by Michael Lalley, Brand Manager
Once a year the craft beer drinking community flocks to Denver like a moth to a flame. No, it’s not the mountains or legal marijuana that beckons their call, no, it’s the Great American Beer Festival.
The Great American Beer Festival started all the way back in 1982, hosting a grand total of 22 breweries. Since its inception, the festival has grown from a small little party of bearded brewers to the largest ticketed craft beer event in the country. In fact, the 2016 GABF hosted more than 800 breweries with offerings of over 3,200 beers! I think it’s safe to say we are witnessing a craft beer revolution. Huzza!
On Wednesday October 5th I was granted the opportunity to fly out to Denver and experience the festivities first hand. On the lead up to the festival I was bombarded with questions, most often, “What are you most excited for?”. Before stepping foot in the festival, my canned answers included; Wicked Weed, Cigar City, Oskar Blues, Funky Buddha. Everything that I was excited about revolved around sampling world class beers from world class breweries. Little did I know, that answer would change drastically.
Upon landing in the beautiful state of Colorado, you are instantly transported to a landscape drastically different from the streets and sidewalks of Detroit Michigan. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, one can only be reminded of their trivial significance in the grand landscape of the world. Moving swiftly from grandiose landscapes, you enter the city center of Denver where you are dwarfed, not by ancient stone, but instead by post-modern edifices of steel and glass.
Speaking of glass, I quickly had mine filled with a liberal pour of Perrin’s No Rules. Holding it high, I clinked for a cheers with Jarred Sper, John Stewart, Adam LeClaire, and Connor Klopcic. We formed a pod as to more easily move through the Denver Convention Center floor, the home for GABF. As mentioned earlier, with more than 800 breweries and a record breaking 60,000 attendees, I was forced to treat my sampling cup like a football as I juked and jived through the crowds.
Upon sampling as many beers as humanly possible on Thursday night, it was time to man the booth on Friday. Perrin had brought a great lineup of beer; 98 Problems IPA, Black Ale, Apricot Sour, Unfinished Business, and No Rules. As the evening session commenced, there was a steady stream of festival goers, as well as brewery personnel, coming up and raving about our beers. To have a line of people waiting to try your beers, when they are literally surrounded by world class breweries from all over the country, is to be completely humbled.
Waking up Saturday morning to fly back to Michigan, I was capable of reminiscing about the previous three days; the camaraderie with your colleagues, the blood pumping hike through Rocky National Park, the sheer beauty of seeing that many people passionate about craft beer. Upon arriving home, I was asked ad nauseum about what my favorite part of the festival was.
Inevitably it seemed like they were asking me what my favorite beer was, and people seemed to be disappointed in my answer.
My favorite part of the festival was getting a small little glimpse into what our brewers must experience everyday. My favorite part of the festival was being able to see the sheer excitement and eye popping enjoyment of the festival goers when they tried a Perrin beer. For me, there is nothing more satisfying than meeting someone who feels as passionately about Perrin as I do, and let me tell you, there was a lot of passion out there in Denver.