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A Recap of the Great American Beer Festival

by Caitlin
2019 great american beer festival

All the winners… All the crazy… And all my favorites. Read on to see how my second year at the biggest beer festival in America went down!

So this September and October have been absolutely crazy for me! It’s been crazy busy, but always crazy fun… First with a three-week-long trip to Europe ending at Oktoberfest.

Then the Texas Craft Brewers Festival, followed by a few days at home, before jetting off to Denver for the GABF. I was lucky enough to squeeze in two GABF sessions before heading back home for a day of live music at Austin City Limits.

I didn’t even have time to unpack any baggage once I got home. Because the next morning it was off to Charlotte for a work conference. I have two weeks here on the East Coast. Split between Charlotte and my home state of Virginia.

I can’t believe the GABF happened just a few days ago. It’s been a whirlwind… This is not normal for me, but it is what it is…

Since ya’ll didn’t come here to read my diary– let’s get into what went down at this year’s Great American Beer Festival.

First some pictures. Then let’s talk about the winners bringing medals back home to the Lone Star State. And finally I’ll share with you all my personal favorites and some need-to-know tips on attending– and purchasing tickets for America’s largest beer festival!

My Partners in Crime for Night Two of the Great American Beer Festival
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GABF is a great time to meet and talk with your favorite brewers around the country. Unlike many beer festivals, brewers can usually be found at their booths pouring beers.
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The best way to stand out from the other 800 breweries in attendance is to create an eye-catching booth!

2019 Texas GABF Winners

Congrats to the Texas breweries and beer medal winners. This gorgeous state won 16 of them this year!

Most impressive (and kind of shocking) were the eight first time winners: Central District, Altstadt, Bitter Sisters, Family Business, Great Heights, Live Oak (about flippin’ time!), SpindleTap, and True Vine.

Read This: I Tasted 250 Different Texas Craft Beers in 9 Days– Here are My Favorites

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I love my Texas beers <3
Gold Medals
  • Altstadt Brewery Altstadt Kolsch (German-Style Kolsch)
  • Altstadt Brewery Altstadt Lager (Munich-Style Helles)
  • Central District Brewing Wit-Tington (American-Belgo-Style Ale)
  • Community Beer Co Texas Lager (Session Beer)
  • Freetail Brewing Co Snap Yo’ Baltics (Baltic-Style Porter)
  • Pinthouse Pizza – North Fresh Hop Green Battles (Fresh Hop Beer)
  • Princeps Pacis Save The World Brewing (Belgian-Style Tripel)
  • St Elmo Brewing Roxanne (Fruited American-Style Sour Ale)
Silver Medals
  • Künstler Brewing Chamuco (Chili Beer)
  • North By Northwest Restaurant and Brewery Hazelnut Crunch (Herb and Spice Beer)
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Co Saint Arnold Oktoberfest (Scottish-Style Ale)
  • Bankhead Brewing Co. Hoofer’s Hef (South German-style Hefeweizen)
Bronze Medals
  • Bitter Sisters Brewing Co. Sisters Quad (Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale or Belgian-Style Quadrupel)
  • Great Heights Brewing Co. Bourbon Legend (Wood-and-Barrel-Aged Strong Beer)
  • Live Oak Brewing Hefeweizen (German-Style Wheat Ale)
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Pumpkinator (Pumpkin/Squash Beer or Pumpkin Spice Beer)
  • True Vine Brewing Co. Galactic Minotaurt (Contemporary Gose)
  • 903 Brewers Kilt Switch (Scotch Ale)

My 5 Favorite Beers from the 2019 Great American Beer Festival

One of the coolest hangout spots at the GABF was Jameson’s Caskmates Beer Garden. 60+ beers from their brewery partners across the country pouring their brews.

It’s easy to lose track of what beers you sample at the Great American Beer Festival. I usually like to take a photo of the taster next to the marketing card. 

Even if it is the worst photo ever, it’s usually helpful in jogging my memory when it comes time for the Untappd check ins. Call me crazy, but recently started taking multiple pictures of my favorites so I know what to rate them…

With that being said, here are my five favorite brews I got to try at this year’s GABF (pictures below):

  1. K’POWW Fresh Hop (American IPA created using 5 different hop products: Kief, pellets, oil, whole cone, and wet hops),  a collaboration between Old Schoolhouse Brewery and Skookum Brewery in Washington State.
  2. Frambruin (Sour Brown Ale aged on Raspberries) from Denver’s Baere Brewing Co.
  3. Infinite with Apricots (Belgian Strong Golden Ale aged with Apricots) from Seattle’s Fremont Brewing.
  4. Dapper Apple (Fruit Beer with Apple Juice and Fall Spices) from Denton, Texas’s Armadillo Ale Works.
  5. Blackberry Finn (a Double-Barrel English Barleywine with Blackberries, Aged in fresh bourbon barrels for 18 months then finished in Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels for an additional 4 months) from Revolution Brewing in Chicago.
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How to Have the Best Great American Beer Festival: My Personal Tips

Come with a plan! Look over that map and make sure to visit all the fun hangout areas.
  • Come with a plan! Otherwise, you’ll just wonder around, maybe get lost, and you’ll definitely waste time if you don’t at the very least familiarize yourself with the map.
  • With unlimited one ounce pours and 4,000 some beers, you’re gonna have a lot of different beers. Snap a quick photo of your taster with the beer information card so you remember them all!
  • Don’t be so greedy with the SWAG! Take what you want, and what you love, nothing else. Don’t take free stuff just cause it’s there. Are you really going to go through 20 Koozies? No. Do you need a handful of stickers from each brewery? No.
  • Eat! There are plenty of yummy food trucks at the festival. Eat before and eat during.
  • Along with eating, make sure to do plenty of ‘water shots’. Fill up your taster with water, then knock it back. You won’t regret this in the morning.

Wondering How to Get Tickets to the Great American Beer Festival Next Year? Read This!

Getting tickets to the Great American Beer Festival isn’t easy. They typically sell out within several days of their release. Sign up for notifications on the GABF website.

Tickets are normally released in mid-Summer. Members of the Brewers Association as well as American Homebrewers Association get first dibs.

With that being said, mark your calendars… Here are the official dates for the next few Great American Beer Festivals:

  • 2020: September 24-26
  • 2021: October 7-9
  • 2022: October 6-8
  • 2023: September 21-23

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