The Great American Beer Festival

This fall many beer loving Americans will have hopped on a plane to attend the biggest beer festival in the world - the Oktoberfest in Munich. Some may have chosen to stay closer to home and opted for the world’s second largest Oktoberfest at Kitchener-Waterloo in Canada. But many others, who savor American beers, will have traveled to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival.

Unlike the Oktoberfests that last up to 16 days, the Great American Beer Festival is held over a mere three days, starting on Thursday, finishing on Saturday and featuring only home-brewed, domestic beers. Held for the 26th time during mid-October 2007 the beer festival drew over 40,000 beer lovers to Denver in the heart of the Rockies.

At this year’s festival more than 100 professional judges were required to work their way through 2,793 different beers submitted for judging by 473 different breweries; quite a staggering task! After the judging process they awarded 222 medals across 75 categories. Tough work, getting through so many beers in so little time but they managed it and all in good time! It’s very difficult to win one of the coveted Great American Brewing festival medals with only 8% of the total number of entrants eventually leaving the festival with one, meaning that it is a great selling point for the winning beers, being able to display a representation of a winning medal on their label.

There are many different categories judged at the festival with the fastest growing being the Fruit and Vegetable Beers which saw the number of entries leap from 46 in 2006 to a staggering 94 this year. Wood-barrel-aged beer saw a 24% increase in the number of entrants and even Gluten-free beer was judged this year recording a respectable eight entries, although festival organisers expect that number to increase substantially at next year’s event.

Each visitor to the festival gets to sample as many of the 2,793 beers as they can manage, drinking one ounce samples from the festival’s breweries. Arranged throughout the exhibition hall by regions, the breweries at the festival offer visitors a walking beer tour of the USA.

This year’s festival was the biggest yet, and next year organisers are planning on making it even bigger. So, be prepared if you are thinking of visiting the Rockies in mid-October 2008 as finding a hotel in Denver that isn’t full of beer lovers will be a real challenge!

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About The Author, Andrew Regan
Andrew Regan is an online, freelance author from Scotland. He is a keen rugby player and enjoys travelling.