Top six trends from the Great American Beer Festival

Accredited beer sommelier, judge at The Drinks Business Beer Masters and the UK and Europe representative for the Brewers Association, Lotte Peplow, rounds up the top trends from this year’s Great American Beer Festival, from the move towards sessionable styles to the growing link between wine and beer.

Beer festivals come in many different guises, some focus on real ale, some on sour beers and others on stouts and dark beers but there’s one festival that focuses on, well, everything! Organised by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade body representing small and independent American craft brewers, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is a gargantuan monster of a beer festival pouring over 4,000 beers from 800 breweries and attracting 62,000 visitors over three days. It takes place in Denver, Colorado every autumn, and September 2018 saw the 37th, and biggest ever, edition of the festival.

Lotte Peplow (centre) with star-spangled entourage.

Housed in a cavernous convention centre the size of eight football pitches, GABF is a mind-blowing, overwhelming and unique experience. Taking place at the same time is the GABF competition, the largest commercial beer competition in the world, featuring 8,500 beers from 2,404 breweries which vied for brewing excellence in 102 different beer categories and were judged by 293 judges from 13 countries.

Anticipation builds before the first beer is even poured as the queue snakes around the building and hundreds, if not thousands, of eager beer lovers await their chance to sample sought-after and rare beers. Many are bedecked in pretzel necklaces and other edible accessories, while Friday is designated dress-up day, and there are some sights to behold! Penguins, hops flowers, vikings and knights were just some of the vibrant and colourful costumes on show.

Beers are poured in 1oz (about 30ml) samples to encourage variety rather than volume, but woe betide anyone who drops their acrylic tasting cup as they are met with a loud cheer from the crowd. Even the most dedicated and die-hard beer lover would struggle to try a fraction of the beers on offer but for identifying new trends it’s the place to go.

Click through to view the six hot new trends from this year’s festival.

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