Another great year at the Great American Beer Festival for Max Lager’s is in the books. The hordes of beer loving people have all gone back to their usual lives probably already planning on being back next year. I can’t think of a city better for hosting the massive event than Denver. There’s craft beer everywhere! You can’t turn a corner without running into a brewery, brewpub or beer bar. Even “normal” restaurants proudly feature local craft beer.

It’s easy to completely immerse yourself in beer culture as soon as you arrive in Denver. The Boulder Beer Company has a pub right there in the airport between the gate and baggage claim. The entire city embraces not only the festival, but beer culture itself. Everywhere you go, smiling friendly faces ask “Are you here for the GABF?…Have fun!” and they mean it.

Even though the last few hours of the festival on Saturday night notoriously becomes…umm…a drunk fest as opposed to a beer fest, the majority of the nearly 20 hours of festival time is filled with beer lovers who truly want to find something new and exciting. This year the hot trend was sour beers, especially Berliner Weisse. We brought our Air Lift Berliner Weisse and it was a big hit. But even more surprising (to the drinkers at least) was the Hopless Dancer Gruit we brought. It’s an unhopped beer flavored with herbs. Many would start to turn their nose up at the idea, but I’d say “It’s a beer festival…you’re supposed to try new things. It’s only 1 ounce of beer. If you don’t like it, get something else.” The usual reaction to tasting it…”WOW! That’s awesome!” More often than not they kept coming back for more.

Besides the festival itself, this year we chose an excursion to the recently flooded city of Boulder. I’m happy to report that life is returning to normal there. A friend from Boulder Beer invited us to a pig roast (you had me at pork), which was fantastic. Later we hit up Avery Brewing and were shown great hospitality and even greater barrel-aged beers.

All in all, it was a fun but exhausting trip. It’s good to be home, but I too am already thinking about next year…

-JR