What to Expect at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival 1


Tickets sold out in less than three hours for this year’s Great American Beer Festival — the largest ticketed beer event in the U.S.

Lucky enough to score a golden ticket? Here is what to expect at the 2012 GABF.

Nearly 50,000 attendees.

Over the course of 3 days, over 49,000 people are expected to attend the 2012 GABF. If you think that this sounds like a lot of people, you’re right. And make sure to get there early, the line starts to wrap around the building as early as an hour before doors open.

Approximately 580 breweries.

The 2012 GABF will have 110 more breweries pouring their beers in the hall this year, which is a 23 percent increase over 2011. It is also important to note that this growth is in correlation to the overall growth the craft beer segment has experienced this past year.

Farm-to-Table Pavilion

Quite possibly my favorite part of the fest, the Farm to Table Pavilion returns for a fourth year, bringing together chefs and craft brewers from across the country to serve small plates paired with special release beers that aren’t available in the festival hall. Sadly, one must have a ticket to enter the farm-to-table pavilion — a ticket which is only offered to BA and AHA members.

Confirmed farm-to-table breweries include:

  • Alaskan Brewing Co
  • Avery Brewing Company
  • Ballast Point Brewing Company
  • Denver Beer Company
  • Devils Backbone Brewing Company
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • Ghost River Brewing Company
  • Jester King Craft Brewery
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Company
  • Smuttynose Brewing Company
  • Sun King Brewing Company

Brewpub Pavilion

New in 2012!!! The pavilion will include approximately 24 breweries representing all regions of the country and will be set up to replicate the brewpub atmosphere that craft beer enthusiasts enjoy, including seating and bite-sized snacks available for purchase.

Fresh Hop Ale Competition Category

New in 2012!!! This year’s GABF competition will feature a brand new “Fresh Hop Ale” category. The addition of this category signifies not only growing interest in this beer style, but also increased appreciation in the role of beer ingredients. This category was not possible in past years due to the timing of the festival and the hop harvest.

Pro-Am Competition

The GABF Pro-Am competition judges beer collaborations between professional craft brewers and homebrewers. Each beer entry is based on an award-winning homebrew recipe from an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) member. The homebrew recipes are scaled up and brewed by professional craft brewers for submission into the competition.

GABF Awards Ceremony

One of the most renowned competitions in the industry and recognized worldwide as a symbol of brewing excellence, the GABF competition honors 84 beer style categories with gold, silver and bronze medals. In 2012, an estimated 4,300 beers will be judged by an expected 185 judges from across the globe.

Silent Disco

Quite possibly the most popular event on the convention floor, the silent disco is sponsored every year by Oskar Blues. It involves a bunch of dancing fools getting down to music that only themselves and their dancing partners can hear through wireless headphones. Only those wearing the headphones can hear the music, so whether you are dancing or watching — it’s guaranteed to be hilarious.

And that’s not all folks! There will be book signings, educational panels and demonstrations from some of the country’s best brewers, merchandise, and so much more! And don’t forget about the after parties …. more info on those to come!


About The Beer Wench

Ashley is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist & social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. She is currently the “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA — where her responsibilities include everything from marketing, sales, PR, social media & events. Ashley is also a freelance consultant and professional speaker on the subjects of social media, beer mixology, food & beverage pairings. She is the founder of DrinkWithTheWench.com & BeerMixology.com as well as a regular contributor to CraftBeer.com.


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One thought on “What to Expect at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival

  • Will

    Glad to see that Trinity from Colorado Springs was selected to be in the Brewpub Pavilion. Some of the best brewpub food in the country combined with awesome beers.