Great American Beer Festival (GABF) kicks off this evening in Denver, CO. I don't limit my description to just the beer industry because the wine and spirits industries should be taking note of what the Brewers Association accomplishes this week. GABF represents the largest public tasting of U.S. beer, and an actually meaningful competition.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that GABF is the best alcohol beverage event in the U.S. (I'd say world, but I have not had the pleasure of attending Oktoberfest or the San Fermin Festival). Granted, my evidence is based on only previously attending GABF, Premiere Napa Valley, the Great American Wine Festival and a handful of Colorado food and wine events. Nevertheless, a group of burly, sexy, innovative, and adventurous brewers are able to draw thousands of people from around the world to Denver, CO just to taste beer and party.
However, GABF is not just about a party. GABF is actually about community and collaboration. In a world world dominated by competition instead of cooperation (I do not limit this statement to the beer, wine, and spirits worlds, but really mean almost every aspect of our global world), GABF is a breath of fresh air. As I walk the aisles of the cavernous convention center surrounded by thousands of gallons of beer, I won't only be paying attention to which brews delight my taste buds, but how these beer makers and beer drinkers utilize the idea of collaboration to create an awesome sense of community. Winemakers and distillers should take note, too.
Oh, and the Mayor of Whatever, USA should be jealous (and afraid) of what goes on in Denver, CO this week.