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Great American Beer Fest returns after two-year pandemic hiatus

2022 Great American Beer Fest
Posted at 10:58 PM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-07 00:58:33-04

DENVER— The Great American Beer Festival kicked off Thursday at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The energy's great. Everyone's out here,” said GABF attendee Dyllan Nguyen.

Nguyen and his friends couldn’t wait for the big day.

“It’s like being a kid in a candy store. There's so much to pick from,” Nguyen said.

There are 500 breweries pouring more than 2,000 beers from around the U.S. — 138 are from Colorado.

Ceria Brewing Company from Arvada is part of the Colorado brews. The brewery began in 2018 and is a family-owned and operated.

“We like to think we're responsible because we have NA alcohol-free beer, so a lot of people will stop by towards the end of the evening,” said co-founder Keith Villa.

In addition to alcohol-free beer, the brewery also sells beer infused with cannabis. Those won't be at the beer fest, but if you want to ask Villa about Blue Moon, you found the right guy, because he's actually the founder.

“I’m the guy who created the orange garnish back in 1997,” said Villa.

If you've been to GABF before, you might notice some changes this year.

“The festival is a little bit smaller this year due to construction and availability at the convention center, but I think it's the right size this year. We're bringing in 40,000 attendees, which is the largest festival in North America,” said Ann Obenchain, Brewers Association marketing and communications director.

However, there's still plenty of room for fun activities, food and the fan-favorite pretzel necklaces in between each sip.

“Drink local. Support local. We're all here to be part of the community and see everyone that's why we're here,” said GABF attendee Greg Cox.

This is the 40th anniversary of the Great American Beer Festival. 2019 was the largest festival in history, with more than 800 breweries, 4,000 beers and 60,000 attendees.