Oct 5, 2022 - Food and Drink

GABF 2022: A guide to the best breweries and beers at the festival

Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione pours beer at the 2019 GABF. Photo courtesy of Brewers Association

Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione pours beer at the 2019 GABF. Photo courtesy of Brewers Association

The Great American Beer Festival returns Thursday, after a two-year hiatus, with much to prove in its 40th year.

State of the festival: Like any 40-year-old, it's time to re-evaluate priorities and choices. Organizers and fans are hoping to regain the lost mojo, but also wondering what's next.

  • This year's festival is smaller, with 20,000 fewer tickets and 300 fewer breweries — yet it's still not sold out due to declining interest.
  • Many of the nation's most sought-after breweries are not pouring at the event, opting instead for individual side programming that's cheaper to host.

Other GABF-week festivities, including the much-hyped Denver Rare Beer Tasting, are also seeing less interest.

  • The pandemic broke the annual "habit," says Rick Lyke, Denver Rare Beer's organizer, adding that a tight economy makes it more expensive to get to Denver, let alone drink craft beer.

If you go: Our resident beer expert put together this mobile-ready guide to the best beers at GABF.

Here's a look at some of my favorite breweries and beers pouring at GABF — and those that get top ratings on the Untappd app.

The must-visit breweries: The first stop is always all-star Russian River (Booth 14, No. 21).

  • Other first sips: Modern Times (11-11), Great Notion (8-8), Pure Project (14-6), WeldWerks (12-1), Fremont (7-16), MORE (11-17) and Three Floyds (17-17).

The best lagers and light beers: If you want to start light, or cleanse your palate, these folks make the best crispy sips:

  • Live Oak's Oaktoberfest and Pilz (10-15)
  • Austin Brewing Beer Garden's Rocket 100 (Heavy Medal Taproom)
  • Port City Brewing's Optimal Wit (13-21)
  • Beachwood Brewing's Pairs Well with Pizza (2-17)
  • Firestone Walker's Pivo Pils (6-1)
  • Russian River STS Pils (14-21)
  • Cerveceria's ¡Venga! (4-21)
  • Crooked Stave New Zealand Pilsner (5-22)
  • Brieux Carre is bringing Crispy Boyz II Men and Marza, Marza, Marza! (4-3)
  • Highland Park Brewry's Fill Pils (Heavy Medal Taproom)

The best IPAs: From clear but juicy to hazy and fruity, these places bring the hops:

  • Pure Project's lineup (14-6)
  • Night Shift Brewing's Fluffy and Whirlpool (12-7)
  • Russian River's Mosaic Stack (14-21)
  • Cannonball Creek's Trump Hands and Featherweight Pale (4-16)
  • Abnormal Beer Co's TDH Player 2 Press Start (1-11)
  • Maplewood Brewing's Double Charlatan and Moon Fruit (10-23)
  • Belching Beaver's lineup (2-21)
  • Dogfish Head's BBA 120-Minute IPA (5-1)
  • Pizza Port's lineup (13-16)
  • Societe's lineup (16-5)
  • Wren House's Good Boy Wally and Spellbinder IPAs (19-12)
  • Our Mutual Friend's lineup (13-3)
  • Great Notion's Over Ripe (8-8)
  • Destihl's Deadhead IPA (Heavy Medal Taproom)
  • Peculiar Ales' DDH Hopportunity Knocks (13-8)
  • Wayfinder Beer's cold IPAs (18-14)

The best saison and sour beers: These days, they come in all colors and flavors, from subtle saisons to fruit bombs. These breweries offer a nice mix:

  • Allagash's Coolship Resurgam (1-15)
  • Modern Times' New Atlantis White Sangria (11-11)
  • Lost Abbey's Duck Duck Gooze 2022 (13-20)
  • Blackberry Farm's Classic Saison (WWWH Taproom)
  • Southern Grist Brewing's 100K Hill (WWWH Taproom)
  • Great Notion's Blueberry Muffin Fruit in the Can (8-8)

The best dark beers: From decadent stouts to the right barleywine, drink these responsibly:

  • Bottle Logic's Fundamental Observation (3-18)
  • Fremont's Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star Coconut Cacao (7-16)
  • MORE's Henna series stouts (11-17)
  • WeldWerks Medianoche series (12-1)
  • Firestone Walker's Parabola (6-1)
  • Modern Times' Monsters' Park: Espresso Macaron (11-11)
  • Beachwood Brewing's Mocha Machine (2-17)
  • Old Hickory's Omega Point (WWWH Taproom)
  • Sam Adams Utopias (16-1)
  • Dogfish Head Wake Up World Wide Stout (5-1)
  • Avery Brewing's 2018 edition of Rumpkin (2-9)
  • DryDock's Hazelnut Bligh's Barleywine (7-13)
  • Great Divide's Gingerbread Yeti Imperial Stout (7-1)

The latest trends: A number of breweries are focusing on non-alcoholic beers this year. Here's where you can give your liver a rest:

  • Partake Brewing makes non-alcohol brews that range from gose to IPA. They're sponsoring the designated driver zone.
  • Athletic Brewing's booth (2-7) will feature five non-alcohol beers and Denver's Gruvi is pouring five more. (8-11)
  • Alesmith is bringing its N/A IPA to the "Wish We Were Here" taproom.

Off-the-beaten path: From under-the-radar-breweries to funky beer makers, these will keep you drinking:

  • Alewife Brewing out of New York is one of the top newcomers on the scene. Go for the sour DIPA or Set and Setting DIPA. (1-13)
  • North Carolina's Bhramari Brewing is bringing its imperial stout We're Already Dead. (3-2)
  • Michigan's Short's Brewing (15-13) makes some funky beers and Une Annee (18-8) goes big with its stouts and IPAs.
  • La Cumbre flies below the radar, but the entire lineup of beers is great. (9-11)

Pro tip: Drink water, lots of it. And dump what you don't like.


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