The Great American Beer Festival got its start in 1982 as just a part of the American Homebrewers Association‘s fourth annual conference. If the name is any indication, however, founder Charlie Papazian had grander ambitions for this remarkable event.
Peruse a copy of the 1982 Program (pdf)—complete with Charlie’s handwritten notes in the margins!
Great American Beer Festival Then and Now
|Hours of Tasting||5 over 1 session||17.5 over 4 sessions|
|Breweries at the Festival||24||780|
|Beers at the Festival||47||3,800+|
|Festival Hall Size||5,000 square feet||380,000 square feet|
Familiar beers served in 1982 and still available today
- Anchor Steam and Porter
- Genesee Cream Ale
- Killian’s Irish Red Ale
- Rainier Ale
- Rolling Rock
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Stout
- Stevens Point Special Lager
- Yuengling Premium, Lord Chesterfield Ale and Porter
Small and independent craft breweries that participated in 1982 and are participating in 2017
- Boulder Beer Company
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
GABF competition judging history
- 1987: First judging, 7 judges, 99 beers
- 2002: 16th judging, 90 judges, 1,863 beers
- 2014: 29th judging, 222 judges, 5,507 beers in the competition
- 2016: 31st judging, 264 judges, 7,227 beers in the competition