Re-posted from my Examiner column today, but with pictures. Since the "new" and "improved" Examiner.com site is about as borked as the US health care system...
The 29th annual Great American Beer Festival is back and bigger then ever! This year's GABF is expected to serve more than 2,200 different beers from an estimated 462 (of the over 1,600 total) U.S. breweries to the event’s 49,000-plus attendees.
In an economy that has seen macro industrial beer sales slide two years in a row, craft beer sales have hit double digit figures in that same period. It would seem that the taste of the masses has indeed changed for the better - and quickly. Here's an interesting factoid: Did you know that "four out of 10 people in their mid-20s have never even tried Budweiser." True.
Starting tomorrow and running through Saturday evening, the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver plays host to the worlds biggest beer festival. Four sessions, three of them open to the public (each night from 5:30 - 10:00 P.M.) Technically, Germany's Oktoberfest (which starts on Saturday ironically enough) is the biggest... but that's not nearly the same type of "beer festival."
Sadly, if you want to go and haven't purchased a ticket yet... you're out of luck. Tickets for every session sold out over a month ago, making it the fastest sell-out in the GABF's 29 years. If you are one of the lucky ones - and especially if this is your first time, you'll want to check out some of the facts and need-to-know tidbits that Beer Tap TV put together in their "GABF Survival Guide." Full disclosure: I'm a co-owner of that particular venture, and actually wrote the survival guide... so you know it will help you get through your first beer festival relatively unscathed.
If you can't make it - have no fear! Beer Tap TV, in conjunction with Rackspace and Ustream, will, for the first time ever, be streaming hours of LIVE coverage to your PCs, laptops, iPads and mobile devices such as iPhones, Android phones, etc. How? With a special mobile rig made by Ustream equipped with 6 data modems load-balanced over 3 networks (AT&T, Verizon and Sprint) capable of transmitting live video.
We're going where the action is! We'll not only be on the GABF festival floor, but from many of the events outside the festival proper. In fact, some of the best parts of the GABF experience are these off-site parties, special tappings and get togethers hosted by breweries from around the country.
Beer Tap TV will be in Denver starting tonight, so be sure to check out the "Live Coverage" schedule on our special Ustream channel, or on the Beer Tap TV website. Follow Beer Tap TV on Twitter as the entire crew will be using it to let folks know where we'll be at any given moment. We'll also be updating our Facebook page with still photos and other quick snippets of video. I'll also update this column as much as possible. You can also follow me on Twitter during GABF.
Cheers to Craft Beer!