Beer Man

The Great American Beer Festival Will Be 30 Percent Smaller When It Returns This Fall

The Great American Beer Festival Will Be 30 Percent Smaller When It Returns This Fall
Photo © Brewers Association
The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), which hasn't taken place since 2019, will be 30 percent smaller when it makes its grand return (assuming pandemic conditions don't change) this October.

But the reason, surprisingly, has nothing to do with COVID-19.

Rather, the Colorado Convention Center is under construction, which means the Brewers Association (BA), which hosts the fest, will only be able to use 350,000 square feet of space, as opposed to the 584,000 square feet that were used in 2019, according to a note that the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), a division of the BA, sent to its members. It will be GABF's smallest physical footprint since 2014.

As a result, the organization will sell just 40,000 tickets over its four sessions, which will take place from October 6 to October 8, rather than the 60,000 that had been the norm prior to the pandemic.

Demand could be tempered, however, by the higher cost — $95 for the general public, which is $10 higher than in 2019. Tickets go on sale July 13. As always, members of the AHA and the BA will be able to buy tickets earlier than the general public, and at a slightly discounted rate.
Courtesy Brewers Association
The BA hasn't released any information yet about how many breweries will be pouring at the fest, but the number will likely be smaller as well, owing to space constraints. The number of beers in the competition will likely stay higher, however. Last year's competition set a record, with 9,680 beers judged.

Organization spokeswoman Ann Obenchain wasn't ready to release any details about the layout or design of the festival this year, but she says more information should be coming in early June.

It would make sense for organizers to do something different this year, though — not just because the space is smaller and the fest hasn't taken place in three years, but because it marks the fortieth anniversary of GABF.

It does appear that GABF's exclusive beer and food event, Paired, will return, with tickets priced at $129 for the general public — a levy that doesn't include entry into the festival itself. Combo tickets for GABF and Paired will cost $199.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes