Next year's Great American Beer Festival will welcome U.S. territories

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The organizers of the Great American Beer Festival will make two changes for next year's big show, which will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the world's largest commercial beer extravaganza.

For starters, GABF -- which drew 49,000 attendees and 3,523 different beers in 2010 -- will return to a later date, September 29 to October 1, in 2011. The festival was held September 16 to 18 this year because of scheduling conflicts at the Colorado Convention Center.

Secondly, the Boulder-based Brewers Association will accept contestants from U.S. territories for the first time.

That means Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- not to mention American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands -- will be able to participate...if there are any craft breweries in those faraway but idyllic-sounding places.

A Google search shows that there are, in fact, at least three craft breweries in these territories: Old Harbor Brewery in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Ishii Brewing Company in Guam; and St. John Brewers in the Virgin Islands. Welcome, and cheers.

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