Beer Man

Great American Beer Festival Week 2016: Calendar of Amazing Events

Get ready to welcome back the most wonderful week in Denver, a time when people from all over the country — and the world — descend on the Mile High City to drink beer together. The Great American Beer Festival will return for its 35th iteration October 6 through 8, and the Boulder-based Brewers Association, which hosts the fest, has a few celebrations in store. But the beers start pouring long before that Thursday, as breweries, restaurants and other watering holes and venues tap all kinds of treats from near and far. They will host tap takeovers, meet-and-greets, smaller festivals, special tappings, blowout bashes, concerts, classes, tours, dinners and more — all in the name of great beer.

Here's a list of many of the best things that are happening during the days before and during GABF; we will continue to update this list frequently. Cheers.

Monday, October 3
Falling Rock Tap House will once again welcome beer lovers and brewery folks from near and far to its annual GABF-week kickoff party starting at 5 p.m. When the GABF clock at Falling Rock counts down to zero, the drinking may commence. There are usually plenty of rare or unusual beers on tap. Details TBA.

First Draft Taproom & Kitchen will tap a beer at 5 p.m. tonight that it brewed in collaboration with San Diego's Stone Brewing. Stone Mixtape Ale vol. 15 - Brett the Rockies is a blend of a Brettaomyces-fermented foudre beer, Stone Ruination 2.0 and cannibis oil. They will also tap Stone Barrel-Aged Brown Ale with Balaton sour cherries and Stone Cali-Belgique aged in Tequila barrels.

Avanti Food & Beverage will host a Great Divide Brewing tap takeover tonight.

Freshcraft is bringing the house this GABF season. Today, the beer-centered restaurant will host Trinity Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, Cascade Brewing, Wicked Weed Brewing, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Avery Brewing Company.

Strange Craft Beer Company owner and founder Tim Myers will be giving tours of his brewery every thirty minutes today between 4 and 7 p.m. He will also lead a Q&A about Strange's beers and share samples. Each tour is limited to ten people each half-hour. Sign-up sheet in the tasting room.

Backcountry Pizza in Boulder will welcome Firestone Walker and Melvin Brewing today at 6 p.m. for "an adventure through their brewing techniques." Featuring Pivo, Union Jack, Sucaba, Parabola, Helldorado, Stickee Monkey, Lil Opal, SLOambic and more.

Tuesday, October 4
Freshcraft is bringing the house this GABF season. Today, the beer-centered restaurant will host a local showcase starting at 7 p.m., with beers from TRVE Brewing, Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, Ratio Beerworks, Comrade Brewing, WeldWerks Brewing, Lost Highway Brewing, Cerebral Brewing.

First Draft Taproom & Kitchen get things started today with some offerings from Odd13 Brewing in Lafayette. Beers include Codename Superduper Fan, Hawaiian Bartender, The Economist, Codename Superfan, Boulder Brett, Chainsaw the Princess of Karate (collab with Big Choice Brewing; proceeds go to support breast cancer charities). The Odd13 crew will be in the house with giveaways, as well. 

Highland Tap & Burger will feature a tap takeover at 6 p.m. from beers distributed locally by CR Goodman. They include Stone Oakmeal, Victory Moonglow Weizenbock, Odd 13 Dragon Fruit Sour, Boulevard the Calling IPA, Dogfish Head 120, Firestone Walker Pivo Pils, River North Whiskey Quandary, and more.

Avanti Food & Beverage will kick off its GABF events today by welcoming in New Belgium Brewing from 6 to 9 p.m. Avanti will be serving La Folie; Nitro Oscar Worthy Coffee, a dark sour infused with coffee on nitro draught; and Apple Loves Felix, a golden sour aged in Leopold Apple Whiskey barrels. They will also be giving away one pair of tickets for Saturday night at the festival.

TRVE Brewing will tap five beers from Asheville, North Carolina's Burial Beer Company today (they will also co-host an event tomorrow at the hi-dive) as part of a friendly collaboration between the two breweries, which share an affinity for music and life. "The breweries met at the TRVE tasting room during GABF 2015. A realization of the similarities in brands, beers, and view of the craft-beer industry was immediate," they say.

Ska Brewing returns to Cheba Hut downtown at 4:20 p.m. today for its annual pot-smoking pipe giveaway. This year, the event is called Pints, Pipes & Pils as the Durango brewery will be debuting its new year-round pilsner, Pils World. The 5.4 percent ABV beer "lends a light malt backbone to a moderately bitter hop presence, transitioning to a lemony orange zest and finishing with a touch of tropical fruit."

The Crafty Fox and CSA Distributing present GABF gems today from 6 to 11 p.m. You'll find some rare stuff
from Lawsons, Bell's, Half Acre, Two Roads, Council, Perennial, Fremont, Jack's Abby, Boneyard, Gigantic, Blackberry Farms, Stillwater, Off Color, La Cumbre, Greenbench, Almanac, Ecliptic, Crux, Cascade, AleSong, Jolly Pumpkin, Against the Grain, and Lord Hobo.

The Paramount Cafe brings back its GABF Beer Fest at 5 p.m., highlighting beers from Upslope, Stone Brewing and Left Hand. Entry is $20, and all proceeds go to the Rocky Mountain Autism Center.

Rebel Restaurant will welcome in Ratio Beerworks for a GABF welcome party and dinner and punk-rock comic-book rager. For the event, called The Rebellion: A Punk Rock GABF Kick-Off, Rebel will feature a special menu paired with Ratio beers, awesome games and live music, "all amongst a punk-rock beer garden in the Rebel parking lot." Come dressed as your favorite punk, comic-book superhero, or some combination of the two. More details TBA.

TAG Restaurant will host a beer-pairing dinner at 6 p.m. featuring beers from Orange County's The Bruery (tickets are $54). Pairings include: Hamachi Poke with Mischief Belgian-Style Ale; Maine Scallop with White Oak Bourbon Barrel-Aged Wheatwine; Braised Veal Cheek with Humulus Terreux and Local Rotisserie Pork with Gypsy Tart.

Ernie’s Bar & Pizza
is celebrating GABF as it always does, by hosting a tap takeover starting at 5 p.m. This year, the casual pizza spot will clear fifteen of its thirty tap lines to make way for some handpicked IPAs from all over the country, including Stone Ruin 10 and wine-barrel-aged Cali-Belgique, Bristol Brewing Rye IPA, and Dogfish Head Flesh and Blood IPA. There will be a Cicerone on hand to talk beer and live music from 5 to 7 p.m. The beers will be available throughout the week while the kegs last.

Yes, Brewer's Karaoke is back at Star Bar this year. Join in on industry night "with some of GABF’S most talented karaoke singers and the tapping of specialty beers." It starts at 8 and gets ugly after that.

World of Beer — Belmar, in Lakewood, will welcome in Boulder Beer company at 6 p.m. for the brewery's GABF pre-party, where you can enjoy some rare beers as well as some Boulder Beer classics. Drafts include: Killer Penguin Barleywine (2015, 2014 and 2013), Dragonhosen Imperial Oktoberfest, Good Trip Tripel, Manguila (Mango IPA aged in Tequila barrels), Shake Chocolate Porter on Nitro, and Pulp Fusion Blood Orange IPA.

The Beers Made by Walking program, which was founded in Colorado Springs by Eric Steen, invites brewers to create place-based beers inspired by plants found on nature trails, some in the wilderness, others in more urban settings. This year's event takes place at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for the first time, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. It will feature more than thirty place-based beers, most of which were brewed specifically for the event by Colorado breweries. One example features a collaboration between Odd 13 Brewing and Our Mutual Friend; it's a blended sour ale aged on 500 pounds of palisade peaches. Tickets are $35 and available here. For more information, go to the Beers Made by Walking website.

The fifth annual What the Funk!? Invitational — which celebrates "all things barrel-aged, from boozy and strong to wild, sour and funky" — returns tonight from 6 to 10 p.m., a little earlier in the week than usual, at the Exdo Event Center. Sponsored by Denver-based Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project and Shelton Brothers, this festival features dozens of breweries from across the United States and the world, who make some rare and sought-after beers. Although last year's festival suffered from some oft-criticized logistical problems, the organizers promise that they have righted the ship this time around. In addition to being held in a larger, simplified and more open space, the fest will feature more beer from each brewer and a reduced number of tickets. Attendees should have access to brewery reps, who they can chat with. Tickets are $100 and are available at Proceeds benefit a local charity.

Wednesday, October 5
Tivoli Brewing will host a GABF Pre-Party and mini beer fest today from 5 to 10 p.m. outside the historic landmark that Tivoli is located in. "Attendees will enjoy live music, DJs, food, and plenty of beer from a number of Front Range breweries in Tivoli Distribution Company’s portfolio of brands. Industry professionals with GABF brewery credentials will be granted VIP status, which will get them access to private tours of Tivoli’s facilities, extensive beer tastings, and VIP seating where they can rub shoulders in the relaxed confines of Tivoli’s new biergarten. The event will be free of charge, open to the general public, and for $35, anyone of drinking age can purchase unlimited tastings from all the breweries on hand."

Concerned about your health during GABF week? Well, then, you should probably hit Little Machine Brewing's Brewer's Health Fair, which starts today at 1 p.m. "Are you match-fit for the physical and mental challenges of GABF?" the brewery asks. If not, Little Machine's got you covered. First, hydrate with the sixteen beers that Little Machine has on tap, including a few special offerings from the vault. Then, fuel up with a whole-hog pig roast, smoked brats and sides from Il Porcellino. Then, hit the incline: There are three steps up to the brewery's doors. And finally, hit the circuit, with live music, cornhole, ladderball and disc golf. Now, go out there and leave it all on the field.

Lucky Pie Pizza in LoDo will host a lunch event from noon to 2 p.m. with Avery Brewing and tap three of Avery's taproom-only beers. They are: Cloud 9, a Belgian-style white with vanilla beans and orange peel; Double Dry-Hopped Maharajah; and Karma Sutra Belgian sour with rose buds and hibiscus. Lucky Pie will also tap #38 in Avery’s Barrel Aged Series, Certatio Equestris, a barrel-aged sour with Brettanomyces and spearmint. Plus, brewers and representatives will be there shelling out tasters and free merchandise.

Mockery Brewing will tap and release bottles of Party at the Moontower today at noon. This barrel-aged vanilla bourbon imperial porter celebrates the places we go to mark noteworthy occasions. It was aged for six months in Kentucky bourbon barrels with Madagascar vanilla beans.

Falling Rock Tap House will host numerous tappings each day this week. Today you'll find Jolly Pumpkin beers at 3 p.m.; Short Brewing at 9 p.m.; Melvin Brewing, which will present an East Coast vs. West Coast IPA Challenge in the parking lot bar, at 9:30 p.m.; Full Sail at 10; and Nebraska Brewing at 11 p.m.

"For too long, have we stood idly by while out-of-town breweries invade our town for GABF," says River North Brewery, which is teaming up with Funkwerks "to bring local back." To do it, Lucky Pie Pizza in LoDo will host a tap takeover and dual collaboration beer release for the two saison makers. The two collabs are River North Saison Conspiracy Noir (a dark saison with syrah must aged in red-wine barrels) and Funkwerks Saison Conspiracy Blanc (pale saison with white wine grapes aged in white-wine barrels). Other brews on tap include: River North White, River North Avarice, Funkwerks Raspberry Provincial, and Funkwerks Cascade. Brewers from both breweries will be in attendance.

Hops & Pie will bring in a variety of rare beers today, many from breweries that don't distribute in Colorado; the beers will be poured throughout the day at different time, starting at 11:30 a.m. They include Three Floyds, Beachwood Brewing & BBQ, Perennial, Creature Comforts, Stillwater, Melvin, Boneyard, Scratch, Blackberry Farms, Fremont, Almanac, La Cumbre, Green Bench, Off Color, Alesong, Two Roads, Half Acre, Jester King, Fonta Flora and Lawson's. All are distributed by Crooked Stave Artisans.

The Crafty Fox will host a beer-pairing event tonight starting at 6 p.m. with Fort Collins's Horse and Dragon Brewing. "We will be pairing a fun custom food menu with their Sad Panda Coffe Stout, Bounty of the Bine Fresh Hop Pale Ale, The Agitated Aardvark Imperial IPA, The Scottish Tradesman Rum Barrel Aged Coconut Porter, Perambluation Gose, and Harry Hughes Aggie Jasmine Green Tea Pale Ale," the Crafty Fox says. "We will also be cooking the food with their spent grain, hops, wort and yeast."

Ska Brewing returns to Cheba Hut downtown at 4:20 p.m. today for its annual pot-smoking pipe giveaway. This year, the event is called Pints, Pipes & Pils, as the Durango brewery will be debuting its new year-round pilsner, Pils World. The 5.4 percent ABV beer "lends a light malt backbone to a moderately bitter hop presence, transitioning to a lemony, orange zest and finishing with a touch of tropical fruit."

Old Chicago will host a tap takeover by Bells Brewing at 6 p.m. at the beer-centered restarant chain's newest location in the River Point Shopping Center in Sheridan. There will be five beers: Two Hearted Ale, Bell's Best Brown, Amber Ale, Kalamazoo Stout and the very rare Uberon – an imperial whiskey-barrel-aged version of the brewery's Oberon.

TAG Restaurant will welcome in Surly Brewing for a 6 p.m. beer-pairing dinner (tickets are $54). Menu selections include: pork tamale with Smoke (Oak Aged Smoked Baltic Porter); Hawaiian kampachi with Hell (German-style Munich Lager); grilled quail paired with Pentagram (Wine Barrel-Aged Brett Dark Ale); and rotisserie lamb with Bender (American Oatmeal Brown Ale).

Kokopelli Beer Company's Women Wednesday event today features author and entrepreneur Ginger Johnson, who will be selling and signing copies of her new book, How to Market Beer to Women: Don't Sell Me a Pink Hammer, at 7 p.m. She will also deliver her TED talk, "A Hammer, Beer & Women." Space is limited, so register to reserve your spot at the Westminster brewery.

Freshcraft is bringing the house this GABF season. Today, the beer-centered restaurant will host a tap takeover with Upslope Brewing. Beers on tap include: Upslope/Freshcraft Smell My Hand Long Pepper Black IPA; Upslope Bourbon Barrel Pumpkin Wine; Upslope Presidents Beer (barrel aged dark Belgian); Upslope Citra Pale; and Upslope Lager.

River North Brewery will bring out Barrel-Aged Nightfare Fuel, its super-stout, aged in whiskey barrels with copious amounts of dark-roast coffee. The beer will be on tap and in bottles. There will also be a special mussels pairing by Roaming Bull Brasserie.

The Preservery and Beryl's Beer are joining together at 7 p.m. bring you an evening of small plates and barrel-aged beers at the Preservery. Ticket includes four eight-ounce pours of newly released barrel-aged beers paired with small plates. The event will be held at The Preservery. Afterward, visit the Beryl's taproom to enjoy a complementary Dick Nichols IPA (limited release). Tickets are $45 and available at

Avanti Food & Beverage will host an Odell Happy Hour from 6 to 9 p.m. with Loose Leaf Session Ale, Drum Roll APA, Dr. Rich’s Mahogany Ale, Brombeere Blackberry Gose, Crossover Sour Blonde and Jolly Russian Imperial Stout. Avanti will give away two tickets for the Thursday session at GABF, as well as Russian dolls, hats and T-shirts.

Join TRVE Brewing, Ratio Beerworks, North Carolina's Burial Beer and Chicago's Revolution Brewing for a tap takeover and punk rock/metal music showcase featuring Cloud Catcher, Space in Time, Major Sports and Cheap Perfume. Taking place at the hi-dive, the event is called Breast Friends and benefits the Keep a Breast Foundation. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show begins at 9; tickets are available for $10 via the hi-dive.

The Wynkoop Brewing Company has brought back its Beer Drinker of the Year contest, which used to be held over the winter, but has been rescheduled for GABF. The contest seeks to find people who not only enjoy drinking beer, but who know how it's made, its history, legend and lore, flavors and who can demonstrate the range and depth of their beeriness, the Wynkoop says. Three finalists have been selected, and they will battle for the title tonight starting at 7 p.m. Prizes include free beer for life at the Wynkoop, the chance to brew a beer at the brewery, and bragging rights. The non-ticketed event is open to the public, but you should RSVP via Facebook. The Wynkoop will be serving some small bites and sampling Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout and Nug Life, Wynkoop head brewer John Sims's first recipe at the Wynkoop. Nug Life is a wet hop IPA made with 150 pounds of fresh Nugget hops.

Jake's Brew Bar in Littleton will kick off its GABF-week festivities by tapping a variety of beers from coast to coast. They include Stone Brewing Xocoveza Charred and Oakmeal; Boulevard Brewing Love Child #7 and Rye on Rye Sazerac Barrelled; Ninkasi Critical Hit and Imperial Pumpkin Sleigh'r; and Wicked Weed Freak Double IPA and Xibalba.

Euclid Hall will welcome Telluride Brewing and Elevation Beer Company for a 6 p.m. collaboration dinner featuring a collaboration beer that both breweries made earlier this year called Bridging the Divide. There will also be a special pairing menu from Euclid Hall Chef Jake Grant Tickets are $85 per person, including gratuity and tax. Find them, and all the details, at

Renegade Brewing will once again put on Offensively Delicious, a mini beer fest and comedy show at the McNichols Building that it calls "a celebration of the craft and personality behind the beer industry." There will be ten breweries pouring starting at 6 p.m. and them some brewery-industry folks will try their hand at cracking jokes starting at 8 p.m. After that, four local and national comedians will take the stage. Headliners are Beth Stelling and Matt Braunger. This event is a nonprofit fundraiser for the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Tickets range from $30 to $75 at The breweries are Alpine Dog, Brooklyn Brewery, Fort Collins Brewery, Great Divide, Lakefront Brewery, Liquid Mechanics, New Holland, Renegade and Shmaltz.

Stoney's Bar & Grill will cede its taps to Joyride Brewing, New Belgium, Oskar Blues and Odell (four beers from each brewery) at 7 p.m. Each beer will have a specific small bite paired with it. My Blue Sky (an Allman Brothers cover band) will be playing. 

Stop by Ace Eat Serve for the 5th annual Left Hand Brewing Company Tap Take Over + Ping Pong Tournament from 9 p.m. to midnight. Watch a bunch of brewery reps compete in the pong room, sweatbands and all, and try beers from Left Hand.

Jax Fish House in LoDo rolls out a new beer from its sister company, the Post Brewing, today from 4 to 6 p.m. at a pre-GABF party. The Post made a beer this month called Bad Mutha' Shucka, which pairs well with oysters. At this party, they will tap Cask-Conditioned, Dry-Hopped Bad Mutha' Shucka, a 5.75 percent ABV amber ale that "is dripping in citrus and tropical fruit aromas supported by a classic, full malt flavor," according to the Post. It "was brewed from American 2-row barley malt, Munich malt and two types of crystal malt for a rich and satisfying malt profile. The beer was hopped with a blend of Cascade, Willamette and Azacca hops resulting in a distinctly fruity, American hop aroma and flavor."

Mercantile Dining & Provision will host a GABF-week beer-pairing dinner to end all beer-pairing dinners, showcasing six breweries and eight chefs who will discuss "the current state of beer and food." The chefs are Alex Seidel, of Mercantile and Fruition; Nicholas Balfe, of Salon Brixton in London; Kevin Nashan, of Sidney Street Café and The Peacekeeper in St. Louis; Adam Dulye, Executive Chef to the Brewers Association and; David LeFevre, of Manhattan Beach Post, Fishing with Dynamite, The Arthur J. in Los Angeles; Paul Zerkel and Lisa Kirkpatrick, of Milwaukee's Goodkind; and Steve McHugh, of San Antonio's Cured at Pearl. The breweries are: Crooked Stave, Jester King, Alesong, Side Project, The Bruery, and Call to Arms. Tickets are $150 in advance/$175 at the door. Call 720-460-3733 to reserve.

Five craft brewing rock stars will reconvene tonight at Avery Brewing in Boulder for the third annual Brett Pack Dinner. In 2006, these guys — Adam Avery of Avery Brewing, Rob Tod, of Allagash, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey and Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River — went to Belgium together to learn about the wild yeast Brettanomyces and thenceforth called themselves the Brett Pack. Tonight at 6:30 p.m., they will gather at Avery to help present five-course meal paired with two beers from each brewery. "Not only will guests be treated to a first class meal paired to perfection with rare beer from around the country, they will also get a detailed walk through of each featured beer from an all-star cast of brewery founders," Avery says. The evening will continue through the night with a lot of great stories, which bubble out in conjunction with friendly banter, for a truly unforgettable experience." Beers being poured include: Avery Brewing Co– El Gose, Callipygian, Certatio Equestris. Russian River Brewing Co – STS Pilsner 2009, Consecration 2008, Beautification. Dogfish Heed – Namaste, Flesh & Blood 2015, Black and Blue. Allagash Brewing CO – Sixteen Countries, James Bean, Farm to Face. Lost Abbey Brewing Co – Port Pils, Ad Idem, Bret Devotion. For more information visit

Feeling Metal? Hang out with Ninkasi Brewing, TRVE Brewing and Prairie at Star Bar, starting at 9 p.m., for a night full of metal music and metal beers, including Ninkasi Imperial Sleighr., Ninkasi Helles Bells and Ninkasi Dawn of the Red.

Melvin Brewing and Lawson's Finest present East vs. West, an IPA battle at 9:30 p.m. at Falling Rock Taphouse. You'll find a variety of beers from both coasts and both styles, including the two above, Wicked Weed, Cannonball Creek, Comrade, Dogfish Head and more.

WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley will release Barrel Aged Mexican Achromatic today at noon; the beer is an imperial stout brewed with cacao nibs, cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans and then aged in Breckenridge Distillery bourbon barrels. "BAMA" will be sold in 375 mL bottles and only available in the taproom.

The Oskar Blues Ordeal is back. Today's event features an all you can eat family-style pig roast as well as the brewery experience at the Longmont Brewery and Tasty Weasel taproom. There will also be live music from Coop and the Chicken Pluckers. If you are in Denver, you can get a ride at 4 p.m. from the Denver Hyatt Regency to the brewery and back. But there are also local tickets. Festivities will kick off at Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids at 6:30 p.m. Tickets, which are very limited, are available at They range from $30 to $60.

Keep reading for more events as the GABF gets under way.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes