2006 | FEATURES | EDITORIALS & LETTERS
|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
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?
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"?
Try ordering a pitcher of root beer. They will
bring smaller glasses. — Ed.
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.
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.
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,
Castro Valley, California
||Thanks for setting us straight as a T. Monk bass
line. Glad to hear of the ready availability. The Brother
Thelonious is great! — Ed.