The Great American Beer Festival is a three day event hosted by the Brewers Association that brings visitors from around the world to sample over 2,000 different American beers. During this event, over 100 judges will award gold, silver and bronze medals in 78 beer-styles categories. These awards are recognized worldwide as symbols of brewing excellence. The festival gives you the opportunity to sample some of the best craft beers in the world and provides you with an assortment of ways to learn about that wonderful nectar that is beer. It is also quite fitting that the one of the festivals main sponsors is The Simpsons television show; Homer sure does love his Duff Beer.
The Beer and Food Pavilion provides you the chance to experience the perfect beer and food pairing as prepared by expert chefs and brewers. These sessions are held throughout the 3 days in the middle of the festival hall behind the bookstore. Another option to learn how well beer pairs with local food is the “Farm To Table” event where local chefs, farmers and small independent brewers create fresh local food and beer combinations for you to discover. The “You Be The Judge” sessions teach you how to judge a beer along side GABF judges in direct tasting, the sessions are limited to 15 people so get there quick. The Support Your Local Brewery Guild Pavilion is definitely a highlight of the festival. With a showcase of interesting beers not available elsewhere in the festival hall, you get to enjoy craft beers from participating guilds. You can also learn about different state’s beer culture and all about the member breweries. Those who yearn to learn more about the brewing industry should visit the Brewers Studio Pavilion which hosts a wide variety of seminars that explore some of today’s most successful craft beer stories. Another highlight of the festival is the Pro-Am Competition which features entries brewed by professional craft brewers based on award-winning homebrew recipes from American Homebrewers Association (AHA) members. With 20 of the beers entered available on tap during each session, you should try to pick a winner before the judges do.
Every beer enthusiast will enjoy a look at the GABF Bookstore, you can chat with brewers like Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head or pick up a GABF edition of The Beer Journal by Chris Wright. The Bookstore hosts multiple book signings each session with a wide variety of authors and brewers. The Great American Beer Festival Award Ceremony is the culmination of the event, announcing which breweries are being awarded medals for their efforts. Tickets to the festival are usually around $55 per session with some events requiring a separate ticket purchase. There are also Designated Driver tickets available at a discounted rate and allow access to the hospitalities in the Designated Drivers lounge.
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