What to expect for Great American Beer Fest 2020 during COVID-19

by Amanda Push

We would be lying to you if we said the Great American Beer Festival wasn’t our favorite time of year, so we won’t say that. What we will say is that while we understand the plight of the nation’s largest craft beer festival, we are completely bummed about the (well-warranted) redirection of the 2020 GABF. Thanks, COVID-19, you beer-thieving, life-ruining viral garbage nemesis.

GABF, which was originally scheduled for September 24-26 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, but has been forced to pivot to “an immersive online experience” October 16-17 to keep attendees, and the breweries that participate, safe.

“While we are disappointed to not be gathering in Denver this fall for the craft beer community’s annual big tent event, the health and safety of our attendees, brewers, volunteers, judges, and employees is and always has been our top priority,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, in a statement. “As the world is still greatly affected by the spread of COVID-19 and will continue to be affected for the foreseeable future, we must stay true to our priorities and pursue other ways to host GABF.”

A beer festival. Online. Our hearts, but unfortunately not our livers, are broken.

Still, while we’re definitely mourning the loss of our favorite freaking festival, the important thing is that GABF 2020 is still happening. Here’s what you can expect so far.

Why is the event online?As a result of the global pandemic, GABF leaders decided it was unsafe to hold the world’s largest craft beer festival and risk exposing thousands of people to coronavirus. (No, not that coronavirus, smartasses — we all have that on day two of the festival. We’re talking about the other coronavirus — the one that kills people, not the one that renders them hungover and useless for a few hours thanks to a copious amount of beer at the festival.)

This decision was further validated when Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order turning Denver’s Colorado Convention Center into a temporary coronavirus hospital, making the idea of hosting GABF at the convention center unrealistic.

Ok. So it’s virstual. But will there still be a beer competition?Yes! A battle of the breweries is still expected to go down. More than 7,000 expected entries from hundreds of breweries across the country will compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals in each beer style category. Brewery registration opens on June 9.

Will there be any in-person events?This is not yet clear, as GABF officials are still finalizing plans for the event this fall.

“Beer lovers from around the country will have the opportunity to come together in new ways to celebrate the nation’s craft beer community,” the Brewers Association stated in their news release. “The event is still in planning, but experiences will likely include beer tastings, conversations with brewers, local brewery activations, and at-home beer and food pairing deliveries.”

When will we get the full details of the festival?

Eager beaver beer lovers and hopeful festival attendees can expect complete details on the event and tickets on August 1. We hope to see you there, even if it’s via screen time. And this year you can’t ditch us by saying you’re super hungover from the festivities, ya jerks. We’ll know better.

Amanda Push


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