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GABF Turns 25!
By Tom Dalldorf

The Great American Beer Festival will turn 25 years old when it opens its run September 28–30 at Denver's cavernous Colorado Convention Center. Now recognized as the granddaddy of all beer festivals, the GABF has had a long and circuitous path to becoming American beerdom's mecca. Yes, all true beer lovers must make this pilgrimage sometime in their beer-loving lives.

It all began in 1981 basically as a party thrown by the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder, Colo., that invited some 20 commercial breweries (a few of which were micros) to pour their products. As the festival grew, a "People's Choice" award was given for the "Best Beer in America," an award that became somewhat solicitous and contentious and was ultimately dropped. The judging of beers was embraced, however, and each year seemed to see expanded categories and subcategories of the beer styles to be evaluated by some of the top beer judges in the world.

The GABF Blind Panel Judging is now recognized as the preeminent beer judging in the country. This year, over 100 professional beer judges from the U.S. and around the world will consider more than 2,300 beers entered by over 450 domestic breweries. Truly a comprehensive effort.

Early on in the evolution of the GABF, there was some regional abstention from attending the festival by some breweries because of perceived "unprofessionalism" and sponsor-driven participation by the major players. This situation was addressed, and as the GABF evolved, it became all-inclusive of America's burgeoning brewing industry. This year, 370 breweries arranged by region will pour more than 1,600 different beers for attendees. Many of the beers will be served on draught, creating the largest draught beer dispenser in the world. Food demos, educational presentations and entertainment will keep the public sessions lively and informative.

This year, the GABF will cover 188,000 square feet in the newly renovated Colorado Convention Center. This will require over 2,700 volunteers from around the world, who will put in over 40,000 hours of volunteer labor to make the GABF happen.

Cheers to founders Charlie Papazian and Daniel Bradford (first GABF director); to succeeding directors Marcia Schirmer, Sharon Mowry and Nancy Johnson; and to the thousands of volunteer workers who have made the Great American Beer Festival the most significant beer event in the country. But mainly, here's to America's breweries, which give us so much to celebrate! See you at the GABF.

LETTERS | Our readers in their own write...
If your letter is accepted for publication, you will receive a gift, ranging from a free subscription (or sub extension) to a Celebrator T-shirt. What's on your mind? — Ed.

Dear Editor:

I love a good draft IPA, and sometimes my only option is to bring the kids. Twice recently at two different Tri-Valley/East Bay [San Francisco Bay Area] brewpubs, I have been unable to convince the server that a $4 pint of Thomas Kemper root beer is too much for a 3-year-old child. One server thought she was giving us a deal by charging only $2.50 when I stressed that the root beer was for the children, but she still brought two full GLASS pints for two LITTLE kids! Can you say "Cleanup at table 6"?

Eric Heinitz
Livermore, California

Dear Eric:  

Try ordering a pitcher of root beer. They will bring smaller glasses. — Ed.

Dear Editor:  

As a recent Midwest transplant living in Santa Cruz, Calif., it was nice to see Mark Conley's excellent article [CBN, June/July 2006] on this area’s breweries. I would like to offer one correction. Coastline Brewing in Santa Cruz is not a microbrewery or brewpub. All of Coastline's beers are contracted off-site.

Brady Umfleet

Dear Brady:  

Good catch. We should have listed them as a pub/restaurant until such time as they start brewing on-site. What size T-shirt do you wear? — Ed.

Dear Editor:  

In a recent perusing of my most favorite beer publication, I noticed that our recent offering of North Coast Brewing's Brother Thelonious was revealed (thank you) as being available only at finer jazz clubs around the area. I would like to set the record straight and proclaim that we have no bias as to who sells our fine nectar, and we certainly would like to offer it to any who appreciate exceptional beer in their glasses, regardless of where they like to hear their music. My choice would be listening to Kenny Gross on the drums at The Bistro [in Hayward, CA].

Josh Charlton
Pacific Libations
Castro Valley, California

Dear Josh:   Thanks for setting us straight as a T. Monk bass line. Glad to hear of the ready availability. The Brother Thelonious is great! — Ed.


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