Great American Beer Festival Pivoting to 'Immersive Online Experience' in 2020

The Great American Beer Festival, the country’s preeminent beer festival and competition, will pivot its 2020 event, originally scheduled for September 24-26 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, to an immersive online experience October 16-17. This decision was further confirmed with the announcement on May 20, when Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an Executive Order temporarily suspending certain statutes to allow the operation of alternate care sites in Colorado because of the presence of COVID-19, rendering GABF at the Colorado Convention Center infeasible.

“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,” says Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association. “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.”

The 39th Great American Beer Festival may look different, but 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 spirit of the festival will live on through live and virtual experiences with beer lovers and breweries nationwide on October 16-17, 2020. 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.

The festival’s renowned professional beer competition will take place in 2020. A panel of more than 100 professional judges will assess the more than 7,000 expected entries to identify the three beers that best represent each style category. The GABF gold, silver, and bronze medals are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. Brewery registration opens on June 9. More information on the competition, style guidelines, and awards ceremony here.

“We are thankful to be able to move forward with this year’s competition and have the opportunity to award brewers’ achievements and generate consumer awareness for beer styles and trends,” adds Pease. “We look forward to celebrating the annual accomplishments in brewing excellence and unveiling this year’s winners.”

Over the past few months, the Brewers Association has worked tirelessly on behalf of its members and the larger brewing community to provide critical resources, as well as lobbying Congress both independently and with other hospitality and food industry groups, for relief. Following the cancellation of the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America and World Beer Cup in April, the Brewers Association offered five weeks of complimentary virtual, online seminars to interested participants. Furthermore, the Brewers Association’s COVID-19 Resource Center includes information on draught system shutdown, how to forecast cashflow, a checklist for safely reopening, and more.

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