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Great American Beer Festival Pro Tips


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Alika Corwin



Welcome to the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the ultimate celebration of craft beer in the United States. This renowned event brings together beer enthusiasts, brewers, and industry professionals for a three-day extravaganza that showcases the best of American craft brewing. With hundreds of breweries and thousands of beers to sample, the GABF is a beer lover”s paradise.


Since its inception in 1982, the GABF has grown in popularity and has become a must-attend event for beer aficionados from around the country. Held annually in Denver, Colorado, this festival provides a unique opportunity to explore a vast array of beer styles, taste innovative brews, and engage with the people behind the craft beer revolution.


Whether you are a seasoned beer festival veteran or a first-time attendee, this comprehensive guide will equip you with valuable pro tips to make the most of your GABF experience. From securing tickets to navigating the festival grounds, we will cover everything you need to know to ensure a memorable and enjoyable time.


So grab your tasting glass, prepare your palate, and get ready to immerse yourself in the world of craft beer at the Great American Beer Festival!


Getting Tickets

Securing tickets for the Great American Beer Festival is the first step towards an unforgettable beer-filled experience. With its popularity, tickets can sell out quickly, so it’s crucial to act fast. Here are some pro tips to help you get your hands on those coveted passes:

  1. Early Bird Advantage: Keep an eye out for early bird ticket sales. These tickets are often offered at a discounted price and can give you a head start in securing your spot at the festival.
  2. Join the Member Presale: If you are a member of the Brewers Association or the American Homebrewers Association, you may have the opportunity to participate in a member presale. This exclusive perk allows members to purchase tickets before the general public, increasing your chances of scoring tickets.
  3. Follow Official Social Media Channels: Stay connected with the Great American Beer Festival through their official social media channels. They often announce ticket sale dates, promotions, and giveaways. By keeping an eye on their platforms, you can stay ahead of the game and be one of the first to know when tickets go on sale.
  4. Set Reminders: Mark your calendar and set reminders for ticket sale dates and times. The demand for GABF tickets is high, so being prompt and prepared is essential. Set multiple reminders to ensure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to purchase tickets.
  5. Consider Package Deals: The Great American Beer Festival offers various ticket options, including multi-day passes and VIP packages. If you plan on attending the festival for multiple days or want to enhance your experience with additional perks, these package deals can be a great value.
  6. Secondary Market: If you were unable to secure tickets during the official sale, you can explore secondary ticket marketplaces. Be cautious and only purchase from reputable sellers to avoid scams or counterfeit tickets.

By taking advantage of these pro tips, you’ll increase your chances of obtaining tickets for the Great American Beer Festival. Remember, act quickly, stay informed, and be prepared to join thousands of beer enthusiasts in celebrating the craft beer culture at this incredible event.


Planning Your Visit

Planning ahead is key to having a successful and enjoyable experience at the Great American Beer Festival. Here are some pro tips to help you make the most of your visit:

  • Research Breweries: Before attending the festival, take some time to research the participating breweries. Look for breweries that you’re interested in and make a note of their booth or stall numbers. This will help you navigate the festival more efficiently and ensure you don’t miss out on tasting your favorite beers.
  • Create a Tasting Strategy: With hundreds of beers available, it can be overwhelming to decide what to try. Develop a tasting strategy by identifying the beer styles or breweries you want to prioritize. Start with the ones that pique your interest the most and then explore new and unfamiliar options.
  • Pace Yourself: Remember that the Great American Beer Festival is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself and drink responsibly. Take breaks between tastings, hydrate regularly, and enjoy the festival at a comfortable and enjoyable pace.
  • Plan for Restrooms: The festival can get crowded, and lines for restrooms may be long. Familiarize yourself with the location of restrooms ahead of time and take note of any convenient facilities near the breweries you’re interested in visiting.
  • Check the Event Schedule: In addition to beer tasting, the Great American Beer Festival offers a variety of educational seminars and events. Check the event schedule beforehand and plan to attend any sessions that align with your interests. These educational experiences can enhance your beer knowledge and add another dimension to your festival experience.
  • Stay Hydrated and Eat Well: It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the festival. Drink plenty of water between beer tastings to cleanse your palate and stay refreshed. Additionally, take advantage of the food options available. Many breweries offer beer and food pairing suggestions, or you can explore the food vendors at the festival to replenish your energy.
  • Don’t Forget Your ID: Make sure to bring a valid identification card with you. The Great American Beer Festival is an age-restricted event, and you’ll need to prove that you’re of legal drinking age to enter the festival grounds and participate in beer tastings.

By planning your visit in advance and implementing these pro tips, you’ll be well-prepared for the Great American Beer Festival. Soak in the vibrant atmosphere, savor the incredible beers, and create lasting memories at this premier craft beer event.


Navigating the Festival

With hundreds of breweries and thousands of attendees, navigating the Great American Beer Festival can be a challenge. Here are some pro tips to help you make your way through the festival with ease:

  • Study the Festival Map: Before arriving at the festival, familiarize yourself with the layout by studying the festival map. Take note of the different zones, brewery locations, and other key areas. This will help you navigate more efficiently and save time.
  • Arrive Early: The festival can get crowded, especially during peak hours. Arriving early gives you a better chance to explore the festival without feeling overwhelmed by the crowds. Plus, you’ll have more time to visit the popular breweries and sample their offerings before lines get too long.
  • Have a Meeting Point: If you’re attending the festival with a group of friends, designate a meeting point. With the vast space and large crowds, it’s easy to get separated. Having a designated spot to regroup will make it easier to reconnect and continue enjoying the festival together.
  • Use the Tasting Glass Lanyard: The festival provides a tasting glass on a lanyard for attendees to wear around their necks. Utilize this feature to keep your hands free and easily access your glass when moving between breweries or enjoying other activities.
  • Check for Brewery Signage: Look for the signage or banners displayed at each booth to quickly identify the breweries you’re interested in. This will help you save time and ensure you don’t miss out on any must-try beers.
  • Utilize the Festival App: Download the official Great American Beer Festival app, which provides a wealth of information about the breweries, beers, and events happening throughout the festival. The app can help you plan your visit, discover new beers, and stay updated on any announcements or changes.
  • Take Breaks and Explore: The festival is not just about beer tastings. Take breaks to explore the different areas, engage with brewery representatives, or enjoy the various entertainment options. Don’t be afraid to step away from the beer lines and immerse yourself in the overall festival experience.

By following these pro tips, you’ll be able to navigate the Great American Beer Festival with confidence and make the most of your time at this immersive celebration of craft beer. Cheers to a fantastic festival experience!


Tasting Tips

Tasting beer at the Great American Beer Festival is a sensory adventure that allows you to explore a wide range of flavors, aromas, and styles. To enhance your tasting experience, here are some pro tips to keep in mind:

  • Start with Lighter Beers: When beginning your tasting journey, it’s best to start with lighter and lower ABV (Alcohol By Volume) beers. This will help prepare your palate and prevent overwhelming your taste buds right from the start.
  • Take Note of Beer Styles: As you taste different beers, take note of the styles you enjoy the most. This will help you remember which breweries to revisit and which beers to seek out in the future.
  • Engage with Brewery Representatives: Don’t be shy to ask questions and engage with the brewery representatives. They can provide insights into the brewing process, suggest food pairings, and provide recommendations for other beers to try. This interaction adds depth to your tasting experience.
  • Observe Appearance, Aroma, and Flavor: Take the time to observe the appearance of the beer, noting color, clarity, and the head. Swirl the beer gently to release aromas and take in the aroma before taking your first sip. As you taste, pay attention to the flavors, mouthfeel, and balance of the beer.
  • Use Your Senses: Engage all your senses while tasting. Look, smell, and taste the beer, and even listen to the conversations around you. Engaging all your senses can enhance your overall experience and connection with the beer.
  • Keep Track of What You Like: With the vast array of beers available, it can be challenging to remember the ones you enjoyed the most. Consider using a beer tasting notebook or a smartphone app to make notes about your favorite beers. This will help you remember your preferences and make future beer selections easier.
  • Share and Discover: Don’t hesitate to share your favorite beer discoveries with others. This not only sparks conversations but also exposes you to new beers that fellow festival-goers have enjoyed. Embrace the communal spirit of the festival by sharing your experiences and discovering hidden gems from others.

By implementing these tasting tips, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the diverse flavors and characteristics of the beers at the Great American Beer Festival. Remember to drink responsibly, take breaks between tastings, and savor the experience of exploring the craft beer landscape.


Food and Water Options

While beer is the star of the Great American Beer Festival, it’s important to prioritize your well-being by staying hydrated and nourished. Here are some pro tips for finding food and water options at the festival:

  • Bring a Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial during a beer festival. Bring a refillable water bottle to the event and take advantage of the water stations located throughout the festival grounds. Regularly hydrating will help cleanse your palate and prevent dehydration.
  • Explore Food Vendors: The festival offers a variety of food options to satisfy your hunger and complement your beer tastings. From food trucks to local vendors, you’ll find a diverse range of cuisines to choose from. Take the time to explore the food options and try some beer and food pairings recommended by the breweries.
  • Consider VIP Packages: If you’re looking for an elevated dining experience, consider purchasing a VIP package that includes access to exclusive food offerings. These packages often provide access to a separate food area, allowing you to enjoy delicious bites while escaping the crowds.
  • Sample Beer and Food Pairings: Keep an eye out for breweries offering beer and food pairing suggestions. These recommendations can enhance your tasting experience and provide a unique combination of flavors. Don’t be afraid to try these pairings and discover how certain foods can enhance the flavors of different beers.
  • Don’t Forget Snacks: If you anticipate needing a quick bite between beer tastings, consider bringing some snacks with you. Granola bars, nuts, or other portable and non-messy options can help keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
  • Take Breaks to Eat: Make sure to allocate time for meals during your visit to the festival. Take breaks between beer tastings to sit down and enjoy a proper meal. This will provide you with sustenance and ensure you can continue to appreciate the beers without feeling fatigued.

By considering these pro tips for food and water options, you’ll be able to balance your beer tastings with nourishment and hydration. Prioritizing your well-being will enhance your overall festival experience and allow you to fully enjoy the incredible selection of beers on offer.


Attending Seminars and Events

One of the highlights of the Great American Beer Festival is the opportunity to attend educational seminars and events. These sessions offer valuable insights into the world of craft beer and provide a deeper understanding of different styles, brewing techniques, and industry trends. Here are some pro tips for making the most of these seminars and events:

  • Check the Schedule in Advance: Review the schedule of seminars and events before attending the festival. Take note of the topics, speakers, and timings. This will help you plan your day and ensure you don’t miss out on sessions of interest to you.
  • Arrive Early: Popular seminars can fill up quickly, so it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a seat. Plan your schedule accordingly to allow for extra time to find the location and get settled before the session begins.
  • Diversify Your Sessions: Don’t limit yourself to attending only one type of seminar. Explore a variety of topics to broaden your beer knowledge. This could include sessions on beer and food pairings, homebrewing tips, industry trends, or specific beer styles. Embrace the opportunity to learn from experts and expand your understanding of the craft beer world.
  • Engage in Q&A Sessions: Many seminars include dedicated time for questions and answers with the speakers. Take advantage of this opportunity to engage with industry professionals, seek clarification on topics, and gain additional insights. Don’t be shy to ask your burning questions or share your experiences.
  • Take Notes: Bring a notebook or use a note-taking app on your smartphone to jot down key takeaways, interesting facts, or beer recommendations shared during the sessions. These notes will serve as valuable references and reminders long after the festival is over.
  • Network with Attendees: Use the seminar breaks as a chance to network with fellow attendees who share your passion for craft beer. Strike up conversations, exchange recommendations, and make connections that can enhance your beer journey beyond the festival.
  • Visit Book Signings: Keep an eye out for any book signings happening at the festival. Renowned authors and brewing experts often present their latest publications and provide an opportunity for attendees to meet them in person. Discover new releases, get your books signed, and stay updated on the latest beer literature.

By embracing the educational seminars and events at the Great American Beer Festival, you’ll have the chance to deepen your understanding of craft beer and engage with industry insiders. Take advantage of these incredible learning opportunities to enhance your festival experience and broaden your beer knowledge.


Souvenirs and Merchandise

When attending the Great American Beer Festival, you’ll have the opportunity to bring home souvenirs and merchandise to commemorate your experience. Here are some pro tips for making the most of the festival’s offerings:

  • Visit the Merchandise Area: Explore the festival’s merchandise area, where you’ll find a wide range of apparel, glassware, accessories, and other beer-related items. Take your time to browse through the options and choose items that resonate with you.
  • Consider Limited Edition Items: Keep an eye out for limited edition or festival-exclusive merchandise. These items are often in high demand and can sell out quickly. If there’s a particular item that catches your eye, don’t hesitate to purchase it before it’s too late.
  • Take Advantage of Bundle Deals: Some vendors offer bundle deals where you can purchase multiple items at a discounted price. If you find several items you like, consider bundling them together to save some money while still bringing home a variety of souvenirs.
  • Shop Early: Merchandise can also sell out, so it’s a good idea to visit the merchandise area early in the festival. This will give you a better chance to find the items you want before they are gone. Plus, you’ll have more time to carry and enjoy your new swag throughout the festival.
  • Bring a Bag or Backpack: As you collect your souvenirs and merchandise, it’s helpful to have a bag or backpack to carry them around the festival. This way, you can keep your hands free for beer tastings and navigate the festival grounds more comfortably.
  • Consider Practicality: When choosing souvenirs, consider their practicality and usability. Opt for items that you can incorporate into your daily life, such as pint glasses or bottle openers. This way, you’ll be constantly reminded of your festival experience when using these items at home.
  • Support Local Artisans: Look for merchandise that supports local artisans or breweries. Many festivals offer a “Crafters’ Corner” or a dedicated section where local artisans showcase their craft. By purchasing their products, you’re supporting these talented individuals and taking home unique and handmade souvenirs.

By following these pro tips, you’ll be able to choose souvenirs and merchandise that serve as lasting mementos of your Great American Beer Festival experience. Remember to have fun browsing, shop early, and select items that spark joy and remind you of the incredible beer journey you had at the festival.


Transportation and Parking

When attending the Great American Beer Festival, it’s essential to plan your transportation and parking to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. Here are some pro tips for getting to and from the festival:

  • Consider Public Transportation: Taking advantage of public transportation is often the most convenient and cost-effective way to get to the festival. Check the local transit options in the area and plan your route accordingly. Trains, buses, or light rail systems may provide easy access to the festival grounds, eliminating the need to worry about parking.
  • Carpool or Share Rides: If you’re not taking public transportation, consider carpooling or sharing rides with friends or fellow festival-goers. This not only reduces the number of vehicles on the road but also helps save on parking costs. Coordinate with your group in advance to determine the meeting point and carpool arrangements.
  • Parking Options: If you decide to drive to the festival, familiarize yourself with the available parking options in the vicinity. Some parking areas near the festival grounds may require a pre-paid reservation, while others may offer first-come, first-served parking. Plan accordingly and arrive early to secure a parking spot.
  • Designated Driver: If you’re attending the festival with a group, consider designating a sober driver who will abstain from drinking alcohol. This ensures that everyone gets home safely and responsibly. Show your appreciation for the designated driver by offering to cover their festival ticket or providing a non-alcoholic beverage of their choice.
  • Rideshare Services: Rideshare services like Uber or Lyft can be a convenient option for transportation to and from the festival. Check the availability of rideshare services in the area and be prepared for potential surge pricing during peak hours. It’s also a good idea to book your ride in advance or have a backup plan in case of high demand.
  • Plan for Festival Traffic: Expect heavy traffic around the festival grounds, especially during peak festival hours. Allow extra time for travel and be patient when navigating through traffic congestion. Consider using navigation apps that provide real-time traffic updates to help you find the most efficient routes.
  • Alternative Transportation: In addition to public transportation and rideshare services, consider alternative transportation options such as biking or walking. If you live nearby or are staying within walking or biking distance of the festival, this can be a convenient and environmentally friendly way to get to and from the event.

By following these pro tips for transportation and parking, you’ll have a stress-free and reliable way to get to the Great American Beer Festival. Remember to plan ahead, research your options, and prioritize safety and responsible transportation to ensure a memorable and enjoyable festival experience.


Safety and Security

Ensuring your safety and security is of utmost importance when attending the Great American Beer Festival. Here are some pro tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Stay Hydrated and Pace Yourself: Drink plenty of water throughout the festival to stay hydrated. Pace your alcohol consumption and know your limits. It’s essential to enjoy the event responsibly and avoid excessive drinking.
  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings: The festival can get crowded, so be mindful of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your belongings and be cautious of pickpockets. If you’re carrying a backpack or bag, ensure it’s securely closed and kept in front of you when in crowded areas.
  • Have a Meeting Point: If attending the festival with a group, establish a designated meeting point in case you get separated. This will make it easier to regroup and continue enjoying the festival together.
  • Utilize Safety Escorts: The festival may provide safety escorts or volunteers who can accompany you to your vehicle or nearby public transportation. Take advantage of these complimentary services, especially if you’re leaving the festival late at night.
  • Drink Responsibly and Arrange for a Safe Ride Home: Never drink and drive. Plan your transportation in advance by designating a sober driver, utilizing public transportation, or arranging for a rideshare service. Ensure that everyone in your group has a safe ride home.
  • Stay Updated on Festival Announcements: Stay connected with the Great American Beer Festival through their official website and social media channels. They will provide important updates and announcements regarding any changes to the festival schedule, safety protocols, or other relevant information.
  • Follow Festival Rules and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the festival rules and regulations, including any prohibited items or behavior. Compliance ensures a safe and enjoyable environment for all attendees.
  • Watch Your Alcohol Consumption and Stay Sober: If you suspect someone is excessively intoxicated or behaving inappropriately, report the situation to festival staff or security personnel. Look out for your fellow attendees and help maintain a positive and respectful atmosphere.
  • Stay in Well-lit Areas: When moving around the festival grounds, stick to well-lit areas and avoid dark or secluded spots. Travel in groups when possible and maintain a level of vigilance to ensure your safety.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or uncomfortable, trust your instincts. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance from festival staff or security personnel if you need help or have concerns about your safety.

By following these pro tips for safety and security, you’ll be able to enjoy the Great American Beer Festival with peace of mind. Prioritize your well-being, stay alert, and take proactive measures to ensure a safe and memorable festival experience.


Making the Most of Your Experience

Attending the Great American Beer Festival is an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of craft beer. Here are some pro tips to help you make the most of your experience:

  • Try New Beers: The festival is a perfect chance to expand your beer palate and try new styles and flavors. Be adventurous and open-minded in your beer selections, and step out of your comfort zone to discover hidden gems.
  • Engage with Brewers: Take advantage of the festival atmosphere and engage with the brewers and brewery representatives at the event. Ask questions, seek recommendations, and learn more about their brewing process. Building these connections can deepen your appreciation for the craft and help you discover new beers.
  • Attend Educational Sessions: Don’t miss out on the educational seminars and events offered at the festival. These sessions provide valuable knowledge and insights into the craft beer industry. Expand your beer expertise and delve deeper into the world of brewing through these educational opportunities.
  • Document Your Experience: Capture your festival memories by taking photos, keeping a tasting journal, or documenting your favorite beers on a smartphone app. These momentos will allow you to relive your experience long after the festival is over.
  • Immerse Yourself in the Atmosphere: The Great American Beer Festival is not just about tastings—it’s about soaking in the vibrant atmosphere. Enjoy live music, engage in conversations with fellow beer enthusiasts, and embrace the camaraderie that comes with celebrating craft beer.
  • Plan Your Time Wisely: With so much to see and taste, it’s important to plan your time wisely. Create a schedule that allows for a balance of beer tastings, seminars, exploring the festival grounds, and breaks for food and water. This will help you make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss out on key experiences.
  • Take Breaks and Pace Yourself: The festival can be overwhelming with its vast selection of beers. Take breaks between tastings to cleanse your palate, hydrate, and rest. Pace your consumption and be mindful of your alcohol intake to fully appreciate the beers without becoming overwhelmed.
  • Connect with Fellow Beer Enthusiasts: Festivals like the Great American Beer Festival attract people with a shared passion for craft beer. Strike up conversations with other attendees, exchange recommendations, and share your experiences. Discovering new beers and hearing others’ perspectives can enhance your festival experience.

By following these pro tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your Great American Beer Festival experience. Embrace the opportunity to explore, learn, connect, and indulge in the world of craft beer. Cheers to an unforgettable festival adventure!



The Great American Beer Festival is a celebration of craft beer that brings together beer enthusiasts, brewers, and industry professionals from across the country. From tasting an array of beers to attending educational seminars, the festival offers a unique and immersive experience for all attendees.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve provided a range of pro tips to help you maximize your enjoyment of the festival. From securing tickets and planning your visit to navigating the festival grounds and making the most of tasting sessions and events, these tips aim to enhance your overall experience.


Remember to prioritize your safety by staying hydrated, pacing yourself with alcohol consumption, and being aware of your surroundings. Engaging with fellow attendees and brewery representatives can deepen your understanding of craft beer and forge connections within the beer community.


Soak in the festival atmosphere, try new beers, and document your favorite moments to cherish long after the festival ends. By following these tips, you’ll embark on a beer-filled journey that combines education, exploration, and enjoyment.


The Great American Beer Festival is a celebration of the craft beer movement and a testament to the creativity, innovation, and passion of American brewers. Cheers to an unforgettable experience at the Great American Beer Festival!