I just got back from two days spent in Denver attending the Great American Beer Festival. I had an absolutely awesome time, but there are a few things I wish I would have known in advance to make my visit even better. Read my list below so you won’t make the same rookie mistakes.
- See if you qualify for any sort of pass. I was able to attend the festival with a media pass. There are certain requirements for getting a pass, but they aren’t as stringent as you would think. I ran into several people who met these requirements but didn’t even know a media pass was an option. The pass allows you to attend the festival for free, bypass the lines and could include invites to other events. Pay attention before tickets go on sale next year to see if you qualify.
- Do not bring anything large to the festival. The venue does allow you to bring in small purses, but I suggest you bring in nothing you have to carry. There isn’t storage inside the venue and it gets rather packed in there. I saw so many ladies struggling to try to hold their bags, the drinking glass, and phones. I personally brought in a small wristlet so my hands could be free.
- Do not rely on having a cell signal and/or wifi. I attended the festival on both Thursday and Friday and was saddened to see that the wifi didn’t work and the cell service was beyond spotty. GABF does have its own web-based app, but it didn’t work at all once so many people got inside. Also, make sure your phone battery is charged. Searching for a signal will wear out your battery quickly!
- Have a game plan! You will for sure be overwhelmed once you get inside. It is busy, loud, and overwhelming. Have a list (written somewhere) of your must-try breweries. If you have a goal you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
- Eat a filling meal before you arrive at the festival. Besides it is a good idea to have a full stomach before you consume a ton of alcohol, you will quickly realize that there aren’t many food options at the festival. There were a few vendors there, but the lines were all very long. I made sure to have a filling breakfast and a semi-healthy but filling lunch before I arrived.
- Speaking of lines, make sure you use a bathroom before you arrive and don’t “break the seal” too early on. The lines for the bathrooms (especially the men’s) can be longer than the food lines. Pro-tip, there are a set of bathrooms right outside the exit to the venue. You are able to walk out to use these restrooms and come right back in. This is what I did and never had to wait in line.
- Visit the sponsored booths. Yes, everyone attended for the beer, but I also enjoyed walking around and seeing what other vendors are there. Some vendors were giving out free swag/products. Two of my favorites were The Beer Spa and Pub Pass.
- Attend on Thursday for the least amount of crowds and the most amount of beer. I attended both the Thursday and Friday sessions and Thursday by far was less crowded. Also, the beer being poured is first come first served, so that means many of the popular beers will be gone by Saturday (some even on Friday). If you are able to attend the Thursday session I highly recommend it.
- Try beers that are different or unusual. Remember there are breweries from all over the United States at this festival. Don’t just focus on the beer you can get from your home state. Venture out and try beer from breweries you never heard of. You are only given about 1 oz pours, so if you don’t care for the beer you can find plenty of places to dump it.
- Last but not least, it seems like a no-brainer… PACE YOURSELF. There are so many beers to try, so remember, even if you attend all three days you won’t try them all. If you are traveling from out of state remember our altitude and how that can affect you. Drink water, take breaks, and eat food. Trust me, you don’t want such a bad hangover you can’t enjoy yourself the next day.
Did you attend the Great American Beer Festival this year? If so, is there anything you think I forgot? What are your tricks and tips?