Having been to the great state of Colorado a half dozen times over the past decade, I was well aware that I had somehow spent very little time in Denver. How convenient for me that Denver just happens to be the home of the Great American Beer Festival which had been on my list of beer festivals to attend for some time. Having a propensity for beer-centric travel, it was only natural to plan a visit so that it would coincide with the beer festival of all beer festivals.

Ready for the festival

We were only able to allocate three days for our trip to Denver so our time there was jam packed with exploring one of our country’s top beer cities and squeezing in a couple GABF sessions. We were happy to find that Denver is an easy city to navigate on foot. Within 24 hours of my Thursday evening arrival we had checked out The Cheeky Monk on NE Colfax, WaterCourse Foods and FreshCraft, all conveniently located with a couple mile radius of our hotel.

We made our way over to check out the festival Friday evening. Nothing can really prepare you for how enormous the GABF is. I had seen photos of the GABF but they really do not do it much justice. The space at the Denver Convention Center where the sessions are held is vast. Imagine you are in a room that is so large you cannot see the farthest wall off in the distance. Then add something like 12,000 people milling around sampling over 2,700 beers. It is a pretty amazing sight to behold.

GABF Session

The event was laid out in a logical manner with sufficient signage so it was relatively easy to navigate. The beer was organized into eight regions that lined the outside of the space and the center housed the brewpub pavilion, designated driver lounge, beer & food pavilion and the brewer’s studio. They also offered a free GABF app that we used and found very useful for quickly locating specific beers and/or breweries.

Saturday we attended the afternoon Brewer’s Association session and continued exploring the festival space while tasting beers along the way. Sunday we had a few hours to spend exploring downtown Denver before heading to the airport. We indulged in brunch at City O’ City, a walk around the Denver Art Museum and a taster tray at Strange Brewing Company.

Taster tray at Strang Brewing Company

Three days was not nearly enough time to really explore Denver as much as we would have liked especially intermingled with attending GABF sessions. We did get a little taste of what the city has to offer but we just barely skimmed the surface of the Denver beer scene. I guess that means there is another visit to Denver in our future.

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