Beer Man

Five Top Tips for Surviving the Great American Beer Festival

The Great American Beer Festival is upon us, and although tickets were hard to get, there are nearly 60,000 people who will be attending sessions at the Colorado Convention Center from October 2 through October 4. Many are people who attend year after year; others are first-timers or haven't been in years. But no matter who you are, the massive hallway full of thousands of beers can be overwhelming. Here are our five top tips for surviving the GABF. Cheers!

See also: The Great American Beer Festival Week 2014 Calendar of Events

5) Creep This is a total dick move, and I am not even suggesting that you try it. However, if there is a brewery whose beer you want to try but the line is way too long, head to the brewery next to it -- the one with no line. Try a beer or two there, and then slide nonchalantly over to the table where you really want to be and hand 'em your cup. This works almost 70 percent of the time -- but, again, please don't do this. It is not nice. 4) Stuff Food in Pants I know a snowboarder who cooks bacon, rolls it in paper towels, slides it in plastic bags and sticks it in her pocket: Pocket Bacon. It's cheap, it keeps you away from the nachos line, and it helps provide needed energy when things get rough out there. And it works for GABF, too. Because you need food, and there isn't much there. Better yet, buy a dozen foil burritos from a vendor outside and stuff em in your pants. 3) Bring a Spare Cup GABF organizers probably frown on this, but an extra cup (maybe from last year) can come in handy, especially when you drop yours in the bathroom. It's one thing to drop your cup on the festival floor and get a big cheer, and it's quite another to drop it on the pee-covered tile in the bathroom. I've seen it happen. A lot. And since the giant tables full of cups are usually empty by about 6:30 p.m., you are going to be sad without one. The other option is to duct-tape your glass to the palm of your hand. Which isn't a bad idea, either. 2) Wear a Camelback This way you can stay hydrated and therefore drink more beer. Yes, you will look like a dork. But that hardly matters in a convention center filled with people dressed in Waldo costumes, lederhosen, enormous hops hats, pretzel necklaces, Viking helmets, blow-up beer headwear, afro wigs, hipster mustaches, togas, kilts, gorilla suits, luchador masks and "Will Sell Wife For Beer" T-shirts. 1) Go Late Maybe you're thinking: What? I paid $85 for this ticket (or more), so I am getting every penny's worth. But trust me. Like the joke about the wise bull (Google it), don't rush down and drink a beer -- walk down and drink 'em all. Instead of standing in line for an hour, sit at one of downtown Denver's great craft-beer bars until 6 or 6:30 p.m., drinking some rarity that was tapped for the occasion. Then walk over to the convention center. You'll waltz right in and still have three hours to try thousands of beers.

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