The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the largest ticketed beer festival in the United States has been canceled. “We are disappointed to cancel the festival portion of GABF for the second year in a row,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association (BA). In 2020, the GABF had to pause for the first time in nearly 40-years, due to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. (inside.beer, 26.5.2020) Despite vaccination efforts and the gradual reopening of the country, the health and safety concerns for large indoor gatherings, like GABF’s 60,000-attendee event, remain.
“After much deliberation, the GABF will skip its public event in 2021 and return in person to celebrate its 40th anniversary October 6-8, 2022 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver,” the festival organizers announced on their webpage. “While we will miss celebrating with beer lovers and our craft brewing community, we are excited to continue with the GABF competition and national passport program this year,” Mr. Page said.
The BA will host the 2021 GABF competition and awards ceremony that typically coincides with the festival. Winners of the professional beer competition will be revealed during the BA’s annual Craft Brewers Conference® & Brew Expo America® on September 10, 2021 at the Colorado Convention Center. The awards ceremony will be livestreamed from the Bellco Theatre on The Brewing Network.
Despite the festival cancellation, beer lovers across the country will have the opportunity to participate in a national passport program September 17 through October 17, 2021. Passport holders will have exclusive access to deals at participating breweries nationwide. More than 1,100 breweries from all 50 states participated in the inaugural program last year. Passports are priced at USD 20 and will be available for purchase in July.
Denver Beer Week, the Mile High City’s annual event coinciding with GABF, will shift its dates to correspond with the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) September 9-12. From September 10-18, the nine-day celebration of craft beer, hosted by VISIT DENVER, is anticipated to feature more than 200 events including tap takeovers, rare beer tastings, meet the brewer events, and more.
“Beer is synonymous with the Denver brand and our city has maintained a longstanding relationship with the Brewers Association and GABF that spans nearly four decades,” said Richard W. Scharf, president and CEO, VISIT DENVER. “We are optimistic that Denver will welcome the country’s largest beer celebration back in its truest form next year and, in the meantime, we are excited about the return of the Craft Brewers Conference this year, which will fill thousands of hotel rooms with brewing professionals from across the industry.”