10 Things We Learned at the Great American Beer Festival
From facial hair to unicorns, from disco to politics, an initial visit to the Great American Beer Festival turns out to have been an educational one. There was some of the best beer we'd had, probably ever -- the beer that emerged from the nooks and crannies of the nation -- but that was to be expected. It was the other surprising secrets of the GABF that made the experience such a memorable one. Turn the page for 10 things we learned at the GABF.
Erika Bolden Austin Beerworks Booth
10. GABF was a great place to get pampered:
Erika Bolden Facial Hair Consultation Booth
Not only did they offer free massage chairs, but there was a booth on the exterior of the event space devoted entirely to facial hair grooming and complimentary consultation -- complete with two barber chairs with kindly attendants. In line was an assortment of whiskers that could have doubled as a casting call for Fiddler on the Roof -- the proprietors had an astute understanding of their target demographic.
9. The Founding Father of beer geekery is very much a greying geek:
Charlie Papazian, hero of homebrewing and the reason why you're drinking good beer in America, actually sounds like a college student in adult clothing. Excited, a little nervous, and with a high-pitched voice that does not reflect the gravitas of his influence on the beer world, he speaks of being captivated by beer as though he just drank his first one. It's enough to inspire even the most cynical functioning alcoholic.
8. Gas clouds: an unfortunate reality:
There was a noticeable pattern when groups of people quickly fled pinpointed locations for reasons of olfactory infractions. This was due to a population that gravitated heavily toward diets of meat and carbohydrates -- or alternatively, the still fiber-rich, flatulence-inducing vegan lifestyle. Beware.
7. There's this thing called the Silent Disco:
Erika Bolden Silent Disco at GABF
The Silent Disco is surprisingly self-explanatory. Corral a bunch of twentysomethings who haven't updated their tapered cargo pants since the mid-90s, and try not to laugh as they shake their booties in the absence of music. Except that the music isn't absent to them -- they're all wearing headphones synchronized by a deejay. On second thought, go ahead and laugh.
6. Where there's a beer, there's a bro:
In spite of the high ticket price and exponential nerd factor -- not to mention travel costs for all those not residing in Denver -- you were still likely to overhear some version of: "Hey man, we're gonna get so trashed tonight." Followed by resounding high-fives.