Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Start the Countdown

I don't know if any of you are watching the calendar as intently as me, counting down the days and salivating with each turn of the hand on your watch, but the holiest of holy days in the beer year is almost here.

Only eight days until the Great American Beer Festival. Oct. 11-13. Mmmm. . . . 1,884 beers . . .

There are many things I can discuss in preparation for the festival (and believe me, I'll be posting here a lot more often in the coming days). There are, for example, 42 first-time breweries this year, including four here in Colorado: Crabtree Brewing of Greeley, Del Norte Brewing of Greenwood Village, Rock Bottom of Loveland and Wolf Rock Brewing of Keystone. This is a big moment in any brewery's life, its debutante ball for all the beer bachelors in America, if you will.

There also are record numbers of breweries (408), beers (the previously mentioned 1,884) and categories for judging (75, including more categories of mind-blowing sour beers and a category of its own for the increasingly popular pumpkin beers). All of this means the American brewing industry is continuing to grow and get more creative, and few things should be celebrated as much as that statement alone.

For today, though, I just want to help my fellow beer geeks get ready for the festival. If you don't know where to get tickets or what time the sessions are, just follow this link:

While you're on the page, there is one other important feature you should see: the advance map of the festival floor. I don't know if this is a new feature or one I just haven't noticed in past years (the guy doing p.r. for the festival also said he wasn't sure if it was new, so I feel better). But I know that if you're really gunning for a few of the breweries - especially, say, breweries that gather enormous lines like New Glarus or Stone - this is a good way to figure out where they are and to head straight there. Not only that, but if you're a true geek like me, you could plan out a route and hit a certain agenda each night. I'd love to hear ideas on any good nightly game plans, and I'll discuss that next week. But, the exact spot for the map and the breweries on hand can be found at

Enjoy. And get ready.

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