Whew, well, the Great American Beer Festival is over, and now, just over a week after it ended, things are finally getting back to normal. It’s hard to encapsulate just how much work goes into putting together the GABF. The sheer enormity of America’s premier beer festival, which occupies a staggering 300,000 square foot portion of the Colorado Convention Center, requires a seemingly endless swarm of green shirted volunteers, along with hundreds of security guards, cleaners, and staff. All told, 49,000 beer fans attended this year, with tickets selling out faster than ever before (literally in days once they went on sale months earlier). The feeling of walking into the GABF is incomparable. With excitement building for months in advance, the line to get in nearly a mile long, virtually half the crowd dressed in a variety of absurd costumes, and a gaggle of bagpipers in full Scottish regalia playing at an almost inconceivable volume, the buzz and excitement somehow manages to fill every corner of the cavernous room. View the photos here.
It was an incredible joy to meet so many Stone fans, many of who had very nice things to say to us as we poured countless 1 oz. tasters of our precious beer. And to see so many people wearing Stone t-shirts, hats, and the like was a disproportionate show of pride from our loyal legions. Overall, the 2011 Great American Beer Festival was a characteristically rewarding and tiring experience. Stone Colorado Regional Sales Representative Chris Cantrell put countless hours into planning Stone’s presence at the festival and lined up a series of tremendous events at some of the fantastic craft beer establishments that have cropped up around Denver in recent years. Stone CEO & Co-Founder Greg Koch was out and about with characteristic verve, signing copies of our book, "The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.” with co-author Randy Clemens and posing for a seemingly endless series of photos with fans. Several other members of Team Stone, including yours truly, made their presence felt, either by helping with booth set-up, pouring beer, or appearing in a rigged and preposterous quiz game against Durango, Colorado’s venerable Ska Brewing Co. (who were the victors of said game; we’re contesting the results and demanding a rematch). All in all, it was a tremendously good time and an unparalleled opportunity to try an epic assortment of incredible craft beers; which is, of course, the point of the whole exercise. In fact, the tidal wave of extremely high quality offerings at the festival can only lead this beer lover to a larger conclusion: that now is, undoubtedly, the best time & place in history to drink beer…and you don’t even have to be at the GABF to do that!