Beer Man

Great American Beer Festival tickets go on sale today and tomorrow

For months, beer lovers nationwide have been looking forward to this week with a mixture or excitement and trepidation: Great American Beer Festival tickets go on sale today to members of the American Homebrewers Association and of the Brewers Association -- and they'll go up for sale tomorrow to the general public.

In both cases, tickets to the three-day party -- which takes place October 10-12 at the Colorado Convention Center will sell out within minutes -- if not seconds.

See also: - More than 300 breweries sit on the GABF waiting list as organizers sort out what to do - Great American Beer Festival scalpers drive us to drink - That was fast: #GABF tickets sell out in record 45 minutes

And they'll be more expensive this year at $75 per session, up from $65 in 2012, $60 in 2011 and $50 in 2010. It's an increase that "corresponds to increasing operational costs for this three-day, 600-odd brewery, private competition plus public tasting affair," says Barbara Fusco, a spokeswoman for Brewers Association, which hosts GABF.

But the price certainly hasn't limited demand.

In 2012, tickets sold out within 45 minutes, according to the BA (and within two minutes, according to other reports) amid on onslaught of demand that wreacked havoc on Ticketmaster's servers. It was a pace that shocked the Brewers Association, as well as many longtime festival attendees, many of whom were shut out.

As a result, would-be attendees flooded the BA's Facebook page with angry messages -- and took particular aim at scalpers, who seem to be able to easily buy tickets every year despite the efforts of Ticketmaster to keep them away.

Still, the BA is under contract with the giant ticketing outlet and will once again use them to handle the sales today and tomorrow, Fusco says.

The crush reflects the growing interest in craft beer and rising number of craft breweries: the Brewers Association reported Monday that craft beer sales during the first six months of 2013 rose 15 percent over the same period in 2012 and that the total volume of suds was 7.3 million barrels, up from 6.4 million barrels last year.

In addition, the number of breweries rose by 446, from 2,092 as of June 30, 2012, to 2,538 on June 30, 2013, with another 1,605 breweries in planning.

Those numbers led to another difficult situation for the BA in early July when brewery registration for GABF sold out in less than two hours -- leaving more than 360 breweries, including some longtime attendees on a waiting list.

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

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