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If a return to normality after the pandemic – like for us – means being able to participate in the Great American Beer Festival again, then “normal” has just got a date: October 6th to 8th, 2022. Then the public part of that is annual three-day Bacchanal will return to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver with 60,000 attendees expected.
On Monday April 5, the Brewers Association, which hosts the GABF, announced that the drinking portion of the festival for 2021 has been officially canceled, although the beer competition will continue as usual. This is the second year in a row that the Denver Signature Party has shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite vaccination efforts and the gradual reopening of the country, health and safety concerns remain for large indoor gatherings such as the GABF event with 60,000 attendees,” the organization said.
As previously announced, the awards and ceremony that usually coincide with the festival will take place on September 10th during the Craft Brewers Conference, an annual brewery-only fair that also had to be canceled in 2020, but now for one later as a normal show in Denver this month.
“We are disappointed to cancel the festival portion of GABF for the second year running,” said Bob Pease, BA President and CEO, in a statement. “Although we’ll miss celebrating with beer lovers and our craft brewing community, we’re excited to continue the GABF competition and national passport program this year. We look forward to meeting in person for the 40th anniversary of the festival in 2022. “
Despite the cancellation, beer fans can again participate in the BA’s “national passport program” from September 17 to October 17, 2021. Pass holders get access to offers at participating breweries across the country. More than 1,100 breweries from all fifty states participated in the opening program last year.
In addition, the Visit Denver Tourism Bureau plans to continue Denver Beer Week and reschedule the dates from September 9-12 to reflect the Craft Brewers Conference. As a rule, several hundred taps, tastings, tap takeovers and other events take place in breweries. Bars and restaurants in every city the conference is in – and these will likely be in Denver this year, especially if vaccination rates go up.
“Beer is synonymous with the Denver brand, and our city has had a longstanding relationship with the Brewers Association and GABF for nearly four decades,” said Richard W. Scharf, President and CEO of Visit DenverGABF. “We are optimistic that Denver will see the country’s biggest beer celebration again in its truest form next year. In the meantime, we look forward to the return of the Craft Brewers Conference this year, which will fill thousands of hotel rooms with beer lovers from across the industry. “
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Jonathan Shikes is from Denver and writes about business and beer for Westword.