Friday, September 28, 2007

Shameless Plug for the Great American Beer Festival

I'm a big supporter of the Great American Beer Festival. Steelhead sent beers and served them on the festival floor every year I worked for them. If you've never attended this event, plan your vacation time to do so someday.

I first attended the 1988 festival. Watching Brewmaster Mellie Pullman get up on that stage and accept her medal helped inspire me to "Go Pro" with my homebrewing hobby that same year.

I've attended every year since 1991 as a professional, and I've judged every year since 1991 (except 2004, the year Jon and I got married). There are too many extranous events to attend them all, but if you are as big a beer geek as I am, you will get a lot out of attending as many events as you can.

With Judging and the Judge Orientation & Reception, the GABF lasts five days for me. (Tuesday - Saturday.) If you want to catch me, you can try these public events. I may wear my pink boots (no promises). See my complete Itinerary for more details.

Thur Oct 11
5:30 - 10:00 pm: GABF Festival
7:30-8:00 pm: Women in Brewing Interview (at Festival on Center Stage)
10:00 pm: Introduce Lucy Saunders at KROC meeting

Fri Oct 12
1:00 - 3:00 pm: Alpha King Challenge - Judge (at Falling Rock Tap House)
5:30 - 6:30 pm: You Be The Judge (at Festival booth E1)
5:30 - 10:00 pm: GABF Festival

Sat Oct 13
12:30 - 4:30 pm: GABF Members Only Session
1:15 - 3:00 pm : Awards Ceremony
5:30 - 10:00 pm: GABF Festival (I never stay past 8:00 pm on Saturday night.)

The festival itself is a snapshot of what is happening in each region of the country. You could do your own "Road Brewer Tour" by attending all four sessions and concentrating on a different region each session. Or if you are a big fan of a particular style of beer, study the free booklet and taste every example of that style that you can find.

In my opinion, the very best session to attend (to avoid the crowds) is Thursday night. However, if you want to see the Awards Ceremony, Saturday's day session is THE session to attend. And while all the brewers are crowded around the Awards Stage, the booths are nearly deserted so it's also a great time to taste the beers without any crowds.

In order to attend the Saturday day session, you will need to join the AHA (American Homebrewers Association), as only members, brewers, and the press are allowed to attend this exclusive session.

The numbers are impressive this year, as they are every year. Here is 2007 by the numbers:

408 - Breweries on the festival floor (24 more than last year)
1884 - Beers on the Festival floor (Yikes! 230+ more than last year)
474 - Breweries in the competition (24 more than last year)
2832 - Beers in the competition(422 more than last year) updated 9/14/07
75 - Style Categories being judged (6 more than last year)
107 - Judges from 7 countries(4 more Judges than last year)
Avg number of competition beers in each category: 37 (2 more beers than last year)
Category with most entries: American Style India Pale Ale, 120 Entries(Same category last year and 26 more entries)

Click here for the GABF website. Book your plane and hotel, buy your tickets. GO!

P.S. My old pride and joy, Steelhead Brewing Company, was listed in the October 2007 (current) issue of Playboy magazine in the Stephen Beaumont article on "Top Ten Brewpubs in College Towns." Tom Schlafly told me the news. Yay!

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