It’s the 35th anniversary of the Great American Beer Festival, y’all!
The first GABF took place in 1982, and there were 24 breweries, 47 beers and 800 attendees. In 2016, we expect more than 800 breweries, 3,800+ beers and 60,000 attendees! (It’s no wonder GABF was voted best festival in the country.)
Here’s what’s new for 2016:
“I’ve got a Golden Ticket!”
During each evening session, two rock-star craft brewers will pluck a lucky attendee + their friends from the queue in Hall A for a special, private tasting tour of GABF—30 minutes before the doors open to the public. Each brewer will use their own criteria—the chosen posse might be rocking their GABF pride, some brewery apparel, or costumes that can’t be beat. We think attendees will be excited about this opportunity to talk and to taste with some of the best known and loved names in craft brewing, all before the festival official opens. Confirmed brewers include Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker, Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery and Tomme Arthur of The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing.
Let There Be Games! Introducing the “Backyard”
Once the line moves in from Hall A, that area will be opened up and filled with lawn games in celebration of the 35th anniversary of GABF. Expect a backyard feel, with free games like cornhole and KanJam– and perhaps some ‘80s tunes, hearkening back to the first festival. (Olivia Newton-John, anyone?)
Meet the Brewer – Back Again!
New last year, the Great American Beer Festival dedicated roughly 30,000 square feet of hall space to a section called Meet the Brewer. Around 100 breweries filled this area, where each brewery’s booth was staffed entirely, exclusively, by their employees. Meet the brewer is back in 2016 with more participating breweries, totaling 120 in 2016.
Meet the Brewer is a great opportunity for passionate beer fans to start conversations with brewers, learn more about their beers and talk shop. The section occupies the heart of Hall B, which was a new addition to the festival in 2015.