Great American Beer Festival can be referred to as nothing less than “an experience” and the momentous occasion just continues to expand both inside the Colorado Convention Center with the growing number of attendees and throughout Denver, with the incorporation of more specialized events. So if you are not one of the many that quickly snaps up tickets, don’t dismay. We highly encourage you to download the GABF app or visit the website to find a long list of exterior events that still features exceptional breweries in nearby establishments, or look up your favorite beer bars to locate unusual and funky pours. Our top picks include: Goed Zuur, Freshcraft, Falling Rock Taphouse and Tap Fourteen. These spots still allow for the opportunity to appreciate that exclusive barrel aged stout, discover a Three Floyds Brewing lineup or take your pick from a Fort Collins tap takeover, but within the typically more comfortable constraints of a locally-based restaurant or bar.
If you can snag tickets to the big show, we recommend you spring for the additional cost of the internal food and beer event Paired that couples craft breweries and notable chefs from across the country. Ten years ago, GABF brought the Farm to Table Pavilion into the mix, the infant stages of Paired, and the concept continues to progress to not only showcase sought after beers, but the powerful nuances that the magnificent mini plates beside them also provide.
Amidst the controlled chaos of GABF, we make it a point every year to escape towards the back corner of the humungous building and happily ease our way into a less crowded landscape that is speckled with the same prominent brews and added bonus, impeccable morsels of food. Plus, we find some distinct face time with both the liquid mechanics and the ladies and gents that are eager to feed us and relish in the surprises that they present with a wildly diverse array that alters the idea of what is proper “bar food.”
*Pro Tip: It seems obvious but we’ll say it again, it’s imperative to find time to chow down during the massive beer festival and Paired makes for an unmistakable step up from homemade pretzel necklaces.
Here are some of RMFR’s favorite moments and standout snacks at Paired during GABF 2018: