The Great American Beer Festival is the ultimate test of mettle. The three-day event presents about 1,700 different beers, making it the drinking equivalent of the Tour de France or the Boston Marathon. Thankfully for attendees, tasting each of these beers is not required. But for Paul Gatza and his associates, sampling every one of the GABF's brews is a must: Gatza heads up the GABF's Professional Panel Blind Tasting panel, the group in charge of evaluating each beer entered in the GABF awards competition. On the surface, it seems like a beer nut's dream gig, but Gatza says it comes with its share of drawbacks, and an occupational hazard like no other: palate fatigue. "After so many beers, your palate loses its ability to identify every idiosyncrasy in a beer," says Gatza, who also serves as the director of the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder. "So you have to really pace yourself as you taste. Generally we limit the judges to tasting sixty to eighty... More >>>