The Great American Beer Festival- Part One “To The Door”

Note:” Emotion recollected in tranquility”. The Romantic poets were one of my concentrations in English at Indiana University. And I have always remembered that Wordsworth quote. Only now, I would argue that Wordsworth was probably a procrastinator. “No, dear, I didn’t write today, because I’m not feeling tranquil enough”. Well, we are in the process of moving to another house in town, and we went to Italy.  I am finally getting to the beginning of a long list of posts. Thanks!


This is not me. This is Wordsworth.





I have never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show and I have heard that the crowd yells “Virgin!” if they find out it’s your first time.







I have never been to Casa Bonita, a local Mexican food place known for its awful food but CASAlavish, tacky atmosphere (cliff divers, no less). I don’t think anybody calls out “Virgin!”.




And until this past October, I had never attended the Great American Beer Festival  (GABF), although I have heard about it for years, chiefly how it has grown from a fairly intimate event to an absolutely massive undertaking with thousands of tickets selling in 30 minutes or less. gabf-post

In the past year or so I have started this blog and also began brewing beer with my friend, Chris and also being joined by a slowly increasing but ever engaging cast of characters.  I thought it was time to steel myself and dive into the expected horde of humanity. I WRITE ABOUT BEER, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!! I convinced myself that it was akin to some kind of professional certification. And it was only a short bus ride away.

My wife dropped me off at the bus stop and there was already a small crowd there, some wearing yellow GABF volunteer  t-shirts. I have found craft beer drinkers to be a pretty sociable bunch so I started chatting with a yellowed-teed couple (come to think of it…almost every couple I meet is young… or younger, anyway). When I revealed that it was my first time, the guy’s eyes light up and he says, “Oh, a virgin!” Walked right into that one.

A little about bus routes. This particular bus line originates in Boulder so Louisville is the first stop after leaving Boulder.  To my great surprise, all the seats were already taken, so I ended up standing.2276 Fortunately it is only about a twenty mile ride. There were a handful of riders who must have thought they had stepped into a Twilight Zone episode due to the surprising number of passengers on a Saturday morning bus until some kind soul would detail our destination.

The bus was able to make one more stop to let on a lucky few aisle-standers, but for the remaining trip, he would just slowly cruise into the bus lane, stop briefly, and inform the waiting customers that another bus would be by soon.2277




The ride proved to be a short one as I was happily engaged in conversations about beer. “This must be what it’s like in heaven”,  I thought. We poured out of the bus at Union Station which is about a mile from the Colorado Convention Center. I knew how to get there but I didn’t need to as hundreds of people were covering the same ground and many with yellow volunteer shirts. It was just like the Underground Railroad, except it was during the day and didn’t have anything to do with escaping slaves.

Where do I begin? Well, technically, you begin at the end and, fortunately, there is someone with a huge sign telling you where the end is. It is noon and this tasting session runs from 1-5 pm. I suddenly noticed that besides the great number of shirts bearing brewery names, many people are either wearing pretzel necklaces or costumes or both. A poor person’s ComicCon? I continue to be intrigued as the line starts to move forward. To be accurate, “forward” in this sense shouldn’t convey a nearing to the entrance because we are snaking around and even under the building, heading in each of the cardinal directions at least once. I wind around the entire city block before I finally see the entrance. This is where any semblance of a line disappears, merging into a solid block of humanity.2279

It takes about 15 minutes to reach the doors, have my ticket verified and receive my program and taster glass. I’M IN!!!!!!

Cheers,                                                               Scott