We’re just two weeks out from the Great American Beer Festival, the biggest beer festival/competition/bacchanal in the U.S. As we wrote a month ago, there’s a strong DMV contingent heading to Denver, so the devout souls making the pilgrimage have the chance to see a lot of familiar faces amongst the 60,000+ attendees. Maybe. Brewery folks who come to the main sessions have the tendency to do a little wandering, snagging the occasional taste and shooting the breeze with their compatriots. Can you blame them? So if you’re looking to catch up with some of your favorite locals or see them bask in the spotlight, here are a few opportunities that should prove a lot less hectic than the main hall.
Meet the Brewer Section
“New in 2015, the Great American Beer Festival will dedicate roughly 30,000 square feet of hall space to a new section called Meet the Brewer. Just under 100 breweries will fill this area, and each brewery’s booth will be staffed entirely, exclusively, by their employees.”
- Champion Brewing Company (Charlottesville, VA)
- Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (Goochland, VA)
- Port City Brewing Company (Alexandria, VA)
- Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, VA)
“Join a who’s who of celebrated chefs and small and independent brewers from around the country in this intimate setting located just off the main hall. In 2015, Paired will feature 21 chefs matched with 21 craft brewers, offering 42 total unique pairings. Paired features special craft beer releases—the beers served here are available only in the pavilion and not in the festival hall!” Note that tickets for Paired have already sold out, so congrats if you were one of the few to secure a spot.
- Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (Goochland, VA) is paired with CO’s El Moro Spirits & Tavern
- Mike Friedman of DC’s The Red Hen will provide dishes to accompany Epic beer
- Chef Spike Gjerde of Baltimore’s Parts & Labor teams up with CA’s Port Brewing
Support Your Local Brewery Pavilion
“Organized, active state brewers guilds are one of the most important means of protecting and promoting a state’s or region’s breweries. Enjoy craft beers from participating guilds as they showcase interesting beers not available elsewhere in the festival hall.”
- DC Brewers Guild
“The Brewers Association website CraftBeer.com aims to help small and independent craft brewers tell their story while educating beer enthusiasts and beer beginners. We decided to bring the website to life at this new GABF pavilion. The 2,500 square-foot area will be jam-packed with educational and interactive stations about the art and science of brewing and the enjoyment of beer. We know you want to learn more about the beers you’re sampling during the festival, but it can be difficult to catch a brewers’ attention while at the busy booths. Wouldn’t you rather sit down and learn about a brewery and their beer directly with the brewer? Enter: Sit & Sip.”
- Union Craft Brewing (Baltimore, MD)
“Have you visited your local brewpub lately? It should be pretty easy to find one—more than 40 percent of the more than 3,500 U.S. breweries are considered brewpubs! To celebrate this growing tradition of locally brewed beers enjoyed straight from the source, the Great American Beer Festival features a Brewpub Pavilion located in the central area of the festival hall, featuring 36 breweries representing all regions of the country. Drop by and have a taste!”
- Capitol City Brewing Company (Washington, DC)
The American Cheese Society (ACS) is the leading organization supporting the understanding, appreciation and promotion of American artisan, farmstead and specialty cheeses. ACS provides advocacy, education, business development and networking opportunities for cheesemakers, enthusiasts and the extended industry. Learn more about ACS and American Cheese Month, and sample cheeses from American artisan producers, at the ACS tasting area at GABF.
- Firefly Farms (Maryland) – Black & Blue