Beer Man

Great American Beer Festival brew is ready and waiting to be judged -- in a Bud warehouse

A refrigerated Budweiser warehouse isn't normally the kind of thing that would make a hop-headed craft beer geek salivate, but for the next couple of weeks, the facility at 62nd Avenue and Franklin Street in Denver is every beer geeks dream.

It's where the craft breweries from around the country are sending the best of their best beers and it's where the Boulder-based Brewers Association is storing all of the suds that will be tasted and judged at this year's Great American Beer Festival, September 16-18.

In fact, today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for brewers to submit beers for judging, says Julia Hertz, spokeswoman for the Brewers Association. She's expecting more than 3,600 kinds of bottled beer for the competition and 2,200 kinds of beer in kegs for the festival. The festival beers don't have to be on site until September.

We're talking Great Divide, Stone, Dogfish Head, New Glarus, Bell's, Oskar Blues, Goose Island, Rogue, Cigar City, Alaska, Odell, Brooklyn, Jolly Pumpkin and Deschutes.

"It all has to be processed and assimilated and presented blind to our judges," she says, adding that photos are not allowed in the warehouse. "We need one place for all of it to filter through. Organizing it is an amazing feat." The effort is headed up by BA employees Danny Williams, who has a cadre of volunteers at his disposal.

Although Hertz wouldn't discuss the details of the arrangement between the Brewers Association, which represents the interest of craft brewers, and Anheuser Busch, which is most definitely not a craft brewer, she said it was mutually beneficial.

"It's a nice and very valued service," she says.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes