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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ready or Not: It's Beer Festival Time in Denver

There is excitement in the rather chilly air of Denver on the eve of the 28th annual Great American Beer Festival. The city is pretty much a giant river of beer for the next few days, with thousands of beer fans paddling through the rapids, outstretched hands holding tasting glasses in search of the next great brew.

To start things off, the first Denver Beer Fest is currently underway. This 10-day event is one of what will become two annual “Beer Weeks” for the Mile High City. The time leading up to and during the GABF has always been packed with beer related events, but the Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau decided to formalize things this year by serving as a hub for all things beer. There are dozens of tastings, dinners, tours and other events focused around beer. There is no possible way to participate in everything, but there is no excuse not to immerse yourself in the celebration.

The GABF is still the focus in Denver this week. The Brewers Association will break records with this year’s event. Paid attendance is expected to reach 49,000 people (plus volunteers, brewers and media) during the four sessions. Organizers say 46 percent more space in the Colorado Convention Center is being utilized to hold a record 457 brewers pouring 2,100 beers. The event is sold out, which is music to the ears of scalpers working the streets near the venue. If you are attending, please stop by the Pints for Prostates booth (D-1), not far from the Pro-Am beers and the GABF t-shirt sales area. We’ll be raffling a kegerator to raise funds to help fight prostate cancer and we will have information available about the disease.

The GABF medal competition will also set records this year. A total of 495 breweries from 48 states have entered 3,362 beers for judging by a team of dedicated industry professionals. Over the years GABF medals have helped establish the brewing credentials of some of America’s top craft brewers. Winning a GABF is a true point of pride for brewers. If you are trying to handicap likely contenders, check out this post from that chronicles the 2,987 medals handed out since the professional judging panels were established in 1987.

One of the happenings in Denver this week that I’m most excited about on several levels is the inaugural Denver Rare Beer Tasting. This event started out a few months back as a simple idea to bring together some of America’s best craft brewers to help fight prostate cancer. With the help of All About Beer Magazine, in cooperation with BeerAdvocate.com, this event brings the Pints for Prostates campaign to Denver in style. We are using the universal language of beer to reach men with an important health message.

The brewing community really stepped up for this event. We have 24 of the country’s most innovative brewers pouring some of the most exotic and hard to find beers on the planet. You can check out the beer list here and you will understand why the 450 tickets for this event sold out weeks in advance. There is even a waiting list of people who want to volunteer. All proceeds from the DRBT benefit the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network, a 501(c)3 charity that helps men with cancer and their families.

Lyke2Drink will file several reports from Denver this week to keep you up to date on some of the happenings in and around Denver. We hope you will join us for the ride.

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