The Great American Beer Festival is a pretty big deal in the craft beer world. Held by the Brewers Association, the festival is a three-day annual event that takes place in Denver, Colorado. And while the festival is a great time for beer lovers, and an opportunity for many smaller or newish craft brewers to get their products out, it is the beer competitions that make it so important. Winning a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival can really put a craft beer into the bigtime, so to speak.
It really speaks to craft beer’s quickly-rising popularity that, last year, during brewery registration, all of the open spots filled up within two hours. This left even older, established breweries out of the festival — in fact, 375 breweries in all could not get in! This year, the Brewers Association has changed the rules a bit to make the application process a bit more fair.
According to the Denver-based Westword blog: Here are the details: The registration period will remain open from June 17 to June 26, and the BA will accept every brewery into the competition portion of the festival unless there are more than 1,400 that apply; last year, 750 breweries tried to enter. The change means that the number of beers each brewery can enter will be determined by how many breweries want to compete. The BA has the ability to judge 5,400 beers in 2014 (up from 4,800 in 2013, a 12 percent increase). That means that if 750 breweries register — last year’s number — each will be allowed to enter seven beers. But if 1,000 breweries register, each will only be allowed to enter five beers.
If the number of applicants exceeds physical space, then a lottery will be used to select participants. There are a few other minor changes, but the big pictures is that, hopefully, every brewery that wants to enter the festival, will be able to. And if not, then at least most will. This is a good sign for craft brewing, and it shows how popular really good beer is becoming in the general culture. We at Everything On Tap believe that this can only be a good thing.