Maybe this is your first time; maybe it's your 31st. Either way, you are going to the biggest, best beer festival in the world. This year, the Great American Beer Festival is celebrating its 35th anniversary, and though many things have changed, many others have stayed the same. Here are few things to know this time around.
1. You, especially you, look really dumb in a pretzel necklace, but who cares? It's your party.
2. You can try one of the five cannabis beers from Dad & Dudes Breweria at the festival or at the brewery in Aurora, but it won't get you high. It's made from non-THC hemp. If you want to get high, go to one of the city's many dispensaries. But don't smoke in public. That's still illegal.
3. You should have a plan before you go into the Great American Beer Festival, because there are more than 3,500 beer in there. Use the app. But also, stop and try something totally different that you would never have tried before. That is how the great discoveries of the world have been made. Oh, and here are ten other things you should know about this year's festival.
4. Go to Falling Rock Tap House this week, despite the crowds and the sometimes cranky waitstaff. Order from the bar, know which beer you want, and leave a big tip, even if they're crusty. Pay that shit forward.
5. Check out a new Colorado brewery that you haven’t been to. Brewers are just as ramped up for GABF as you are, even if their beers aren't on tap all over town. Looking for suggestions? Check out these seven from my cover story on small Denver breweries that are powering the craft-beer industry.
6. If you run into Sam Calagione, Kim Jordon, Brian Dunn, Jeremy Tofte, Garrett Oliver, Adam Avery, Greg Koch, Charlie Papazian or anyone else you recognize, introduce yourself politely if you want. But if you run into them in the bathroom, don’t try to shake their hand. That’s just not cool.
7. Keep a notebook in your back pocket. Write down some of the beers you tried and some of the conversations you had so that you can remember things in the morning, for better or for worse.
8. Take the town by storm. Seriously. Here is a massive calendar for other events going on all over Denver today through Saturday.
9. In case you care, here are some of the (out-of-state) breweries I am seeking out this time around, either because I loved them last year or because I have heard good things and haven't had a chance to try them: Oregon's Great Notion, New Jersey's Kane Brewing, Two Roads Brewing from Connecticut, Scratch Brewing of Illinois, Prison City from upstate New York, Washington's Fremont Brewing, Night Shift out of Massachusetts, Beachwood Brewing in Long Beach, and, of course, San Diego's Modern Times. Here are a few more to try, both on and off the convention-center floor.
10. And remember, even if Uber is surging, it’s still way cheaper than a DUI.