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  1. Alvin Mullins
    December 11, 2017 @ 5:46 am

    For those who argue against regional days, how many regions did you make it to in one region? I attended two sessions this year and never made it to the NE section ever. I would have had a better idea of the breweries of the region if I could have more time there.

    As for the competition, if you really want a democratic process then regional competitions are the way to go. If a small brewery wins at their regional then perhaps the BA could help them with expenses to make it to Denver.

    As for getting the “hip” breweries there, who cares. I went specifically to determine if we should go in 2018 but unless you distribute into Colorado it doesn’t make a ton of sense to spend the money. One of the results of this is a couple of more curated festivals were held in Denver that week. They were much more interesting. If GABF isn’t reformed it will fade.


  2. Brian E
    November 28, 2017 @ 11:04 am

    This was my second year judging and I’ll say that even the “old guard,” which probably makes up 40% of the judging pool, is acutely aware of what the modern trends are. The guidelines are the bible and we judge based on them, not on personal tastes. In addition, while one person’s best idea of a festival is all NEIPA & sours, I’d much rather see who’s making great pilsners or cream ales or fruit beers. To each their own. I’m a bit confused, though, in that you want to make the competition even harder/more challenging. There are over 5000 breweries, yet you’d like to cut the number of styles in half? That seems a bit odd. The logistics of regional sessions has already been addressed. In addition, while doing a regional competition sounds fantastic on paper, the logistics are a nightmare. Just look at the National Homebrew competition. The amount of space needed for storage of the bee (which would likely be thousands of entries/location, 3-4 bottles/entry). Having run a 400 entry commercial competition, I understand the logistics pretty intimately and it would take a lot of overhead to make it work, not to mention getting the appropriate judging pool.


  3. Kim Sturdavant
    October 15, 2017 @ 12:31 pm

    GABF is a beast. The fest is a beast, the competition is a beast. I think the BA does a great job executing it. I’m sorry that the cool hip breweries don’t necessarily get awards, and I do think it’s time to offer some categories for hazy beer since it has such a strong presence these days, but the way it is formatted gives the little guys a chance to go directly up against the big guys in a fair and blind tasting and it’s pretty rad when some little family owned brewery not a lot of people have heard of out of say… South Dakota makes the best English Summer Ale in the country and gets recognized for producing clean flavorful beer. It’s probably a fabulous beer and in this day and age, kinda cooler than another haze bomb.

    The awards ceremony was expanded this year from last year and I reckon the BA will start capping how many reps from each brewery can come. That’s life though, it’s hard to keep up, and Matt Brynildson shoulda got there sooner to make sure he got in… he’s just like the rest of us.

    I also don’t think that just because judges are “old” doesn’t mean they aren’t open to new styles. I know a ton of veterans that continue to be hip to all the changes. That’s a pretty big assumption to make, and I don’t think it’s totally accurate.

    When the Ratebeer awards happened, that was the chance for all the breweries your mentioning to have a moment in the spotlight. If marketing influences consumers taste creating more natural marketing creating success… well, there’s really no space for those little guys with no marketing budget or who don’t give a shit about following trends. The Ratebeer awards was pretty much that. GABF at least, includes everyone.

    As for the end caps, you have to pay a bunch extra for those. Big breweries who get the return on investment for that, as well as need a bigger booth because their line is going to be epic all fest long (like Dogfish Head) rightfully occupy those spots.

    I dunno, maybe some folks feel like their own taste in beer isn’t justified when their favorite local haze crazy brewery doesn’t get recognized. I’m not really sure why some people are freaking out about it… it’s an extremely massive fest and anyone awarded a medal made some world class stuff or it wouldn’t be recognized as so (hence the lack of Gold in American Fruited Sour). A lot of breweries that win multiple medals make incredibly great beer and enter things very strategically. A brewery like Breakside winning yet another medal in both American IPA and American Strong Pale… well, guess what, their hoppy beers are the fucking bees knees, so much so, no amount of flaws in the judging process you’re presuming would prohibit that from happening.

    Lastly, Brown Porter and Robust Porter are in fact totally different beers. Read those guidelines and you’ll see why.


  4. BrewerGuy
    October 12, 2017 @ 3:04 pm

    Outside of the issues you’ve brought up I see a need to change the awards scheme. We only get to award three medals in a category that has over 400 entries? We only had one category that didn’t have all three medals given, Fruited American-Style Sour (No Gold). We had “Aged Beer” with 26 entries, but low and behold there was a world class beer that got a Gold medal, really?!? (I’m not bashing that brewery’s beer).

    It will NEVER happen, but we should switch to a rating system like wine 1-100. Or like BJCP 0-50. Completely eliminate Gold Silver Bronze. I would be very lack luster and zap the strength out of contest results, but many of the breweries that win such a prestigious category, like American IPA, are never heard from again. If that Gold medal winner really is that good then we would see it with a rating of 98 year after year. Would that not be a better indication of a brewery’s/brewer’s quality? I’d bet that there is a few breweries that have their beer make it to the final table year after year but never medal. Shouldn’t they get some recognition?


  5. Andrew
    October 12, 2017 @ 11:06 am

    Speaking of styles, how is there American Wheat with Yeast and American Wheat without yeast (a total of 6 medals), but yet Lambic, Gueuze, Fruit Lambic, Flemish Red and Oude Bruin are all tossed in the same category (Belgian Sour)? There are many other examples.

    As far as getting the likes of Trillium, Monkish, The Veil (ect) to attend, why would they? They sell near 100% of their capacity out of their tap rooms, and don’t distribute (certainly not to Colorado anyway). It’s quite expensive to send beer and staff out to this event and it provides very little benefit to their sales. I know the same could be said of many brewpubs that attend, but most of those do not have lines out the door for every beer release. –I do agree that it would be fun to see the in vogue breweries though.

    As a side note, I was also a first time GABF Judge this year…not exactly the old guard 😉


  6. Zach
    October 12, 2017 @ 7:18 am

    Lots of good points here, and I think the BA would do itself a favor by reexamining some of the structure of the fest and competition. I will echo some of the others though and say some of the proposed ideas sound a little like a hype-train circle jerk. There’s also a lot of brewers, young and old, who take very seriously the beer style that aren’t sexy by today’s standards. I did actually enjoy tasting some clean, O.G. styles from smaller US breweries this year as less and less brewers are making English Bitter, instead focusing on DDH Triple NE IPA. These days, you can only drink so much hazy IPA, adjunct pastry stout, and super fruited sour. All beers and styles should have a place at GABF.


  7. Jerod
    October 11, 2017 @ 4:02 pm

    The entire point of GABF is that it is the LARGEST beer festival in the country. You get to try beers from EVERY REGION of the United States at the same festival. I have been going to GABF for 16 years now and that is the mass appeal of it. Not many people can go to more than one session, let alone 4. How did you expect them to get to try beers from California, Boston, Oregon and Florida if they are all served on different days?!?


  8. Brendan J Moylan
    October 11, 2017 @ 3:28 pm

    Well said Dan,
    I been to most of them, and its time for changes!
    The Great Limited Beer Festival needs new leadership at the top.


  9. Morecompetitions
    October 11, 2017 @ 11:44 am

    I think we ought to be wary of turning this into a ceremony focused on popular styles and “hot” (hyped) breweries. That ignores that someone might be making a fantastic English Mild but because they’re not making the sourest sour and juiciest NEIPA they don’t deserve recognition.
    You do make some valid points about attendance, as well as the democratization of endcaps etc. I think rather than a multi day fest with multiple regional sessions, hold many smaller festivals around the country then invite the best of those to a final round in Denver. This makes it easier for smaller breweries to get some recognition and weeds out bad lottery beer clogging the festival. My thoughts anyway.


  10. Huck
    October 11, 2017 @ 7:26 am

    I like the idea of regional contests leading up to the event and fewer categories.

    I agree with some of the others about the logistical problems with the regional days. Also many folks don’t attend all sessions and would miss some beers.


  11. HarshReality
    October 10, 2017 @ 8:08 pm

    While I agree that it is too big, part of the allure of GABF is the immensity itself. While it took a few extra minutes to sell out this year, it still completely sells out. Usually when you have something that works, you don’t make major changes to it. I drank some awesome beers, and I drank some not so great beers. But again, that is part of GABF. Be wary of changing it so much that the average drinker, who can’t tell the nuances between one double IPA and the next, feels like it is entirely an event for the snobbish beer elite. If you want small crowds with level playing fields between the brewers, go to your local beer festival with 6-8 breweries.


  12. Sean Inman
    October 10, 2017 @ 3:55 pm

    I second the recommendation to separate out the regions by day. Even for a die-hard fan, that convention center list is daunting. For the awards, I would whittle the list down to the top 25 of importance and hand out those medals, the other 74 can get their medals in the mail.

    My only dissenting vote is on booth decoration. I don’t care if you show up with an old jockey box and a pair of coasters, as long as the beer you brought is good and a solid representation of your brewery.


  13. Stormy T
    October 10, 2017 @ 3:50 pm

    How do you define “hottest”? No offense, but I’m reading that as “most hyped”. And that’s not a good idea.


  14. ALongTimeAHAMember
    October 10, 2017 @ 3:37 pm

    How is breaking into regions a good idea?

    Very few people attend all 4 sessions. I for one attend the members’ session on Saturday. I’d only be able to taste beers from the mid-west year after year.

    How logistically are you going to switch over between regions? Have three-quarters of the floor emptied during a session? You cannot switch over all those kegs in that turnaround time. There are more breweries, and certainly, more popular breweries, in particular regions so it would be easier for breweries to get in if they are located in a particular region.


  15. Christopher Barnes
    October 10, 2017 @ 3:34 pm

    I literally had a twitter conversation with Jeremy Danner of Boulevard about the need for regional competitions. That would help fix the regional participation issue and allow the GABF to be a best of the best.


    • DavyK
      October 11, 2017 @ 3:07 pm

      I like this idea! It reminds me of the AHA national homebrew comp, where beers are judged regionally for 1-3rd places and the 1st places go on to the national conference (the best of the best).
      I think many smaller breweries don’t consider GABF, but would love to get a medal in a regional comp.
      I have avoided GABF because of its immensity and would love a Regional American Beer Festival (RABF). Granted, I may not get to taste beers from around the country, but I would be able to taste a huge variety from my region.
      And if I want to, I can also go to GABF.


  16. Carla Jean Lauter
    October 10, 2017 @ 2:35 pm

    Great thoughts. I absolutely love this idea in particular:
    I propose the following: break each session of the event into regions. Thursday is the Northeast, Friday is the Southeast, Saturday day is the Midwest, Saturday evening is Mountain and Pacific.
    What an amazing way to get a “tour” of what the US has to offer.


    • Don Strickland
      October 10, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

      So, think about the logistics of this. It takes three days to get the beer in place ready to go. Or would we just squeeze everyone into one tiny area each session?


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