Beer Man

The Great American Beer Fest Adds a New Collaboration Category

GABF gets into the collaborative spirit this year.
GABF gets into the collaborative spirit this year. Photo © Brewers Association
Collaboration has become synonymous with craft beer over the past ten years because of how friendly most people in the industry are with each other. And since brewers and brewery staff like to work together as much they like to party together, collaboration beers are also extremely popular. One of the biggest — if not the biggest — festivals in the state is dedicated to these beers: Collaboration Fest takes place in Denver every spring.

To get in on the act and to celebrate "the collaborative spirit of the craft brewing community," the organizers of the Great American Beer Festival have added a new competition this year dedicated to collaboration beers. Since these entries don't adhere to any particular style, however, they will be judged in a best-of-show format in which each beer will be evaluated on its own merits, similar to GABF's Pro-Am home-brewing competition.

"The best part of this collaboration is that both breweries will be awarded medals," says Ann Obenchain, spokeswoman for the Brewers Association, which hosts the annual festival.

That issue has come up in the past when collaborative beers have won medals. In those cases, the BA only recognized the brewery where the beer was made. And although that will remain the case in other categories, the new Collaboration Competition is still a way of honoring joint efforts no matter where they are brewed.

This year’s competition is capped at a conservative 48 entries in order to be "mindful of judging and competition resources," Obenchain says. The BA will reassess the cap after the competition.

The GABF Collaboration Competition is separate from the rest of the festival's judging, and therefore the Collaboration Competition medals do not count toward GABF Brewery and Brewer of the Year awards. But there will be a special booth on the festival floor where the resulting brews will be served.

GABF runs September 20 to 22, 2018, at the Colorado Convention Center. Tickets go on sale July 31 to members of the BA and the American Homebrewers Association, and August 1 to the general public. 
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes