Homebrewers’ Party: A memory of the first GABFs

I’ve often wondered if my love for beer is hereditary.

Certainly my upbringing on Coors Banquet, Speckled Hen, Bass, and Alaskan Stout did something to my palate.  Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I shared my previous GABF experience with my family.  I talked about the mapping of the different beers I wanted to try beforehand, the steady buzz of noise you encounter riding up the escalator to the main floor, the rare breweries out of a state I never thought would make beer, and my good ol’ favorites from home and my “home from home”. After I finished my ramblings of my beloved Denver beer experience, my mother quietly piped up and asked, “Did you get to see Charlie?”

Mom's the classy lady on the right. (Don't mind my father's short shorts.)

I responded, “Charlie Papazian? THE Charlie?  I mean, I stood next to his cardboard cut-out. Why?”

She said, “You know, I went to the first two Great American Beers Fests, but that was long before it was GABF.  At that time, it was still known as Homebrewers’ Party.”

I was floored.  Here was the most important woman in my life (who, by the way, is a Pinot Gris wino and prefers not to drink beer) telling me she was rocking it at Charlie Papazian’s house back in the yonder-year.  And I’ve asked her to share a little bit about the magical beginning of GABF:

It was the late seventies and I was carpooling with a co-worker from Boulder County to Denver to work the second shift at a hospital.  We talked about recipes and going to the Green Mountain Grainery in Boulder to get our flours and oats for making bread and granola.  She even had a relative that was making their own beer with small group of friends.  Being casual acquaintances, she invited me to the party that Charlie was having that year to share the home brew.  She said to bring your own beer mug and they would be having music and food.  There was no fee to attend however there was a price for admission to the party.  All you had to bring was a home baked pie.  Charlie had just formed the Home Brewers Association and this was the first Home Brewers Association party, known now as the Great American Beer Festival.  “Good beer was good beer” even back then.

Touché, Mom, touché.  Good beer was good beer back then and is still good beer today.


About Jess Hunter

Jess is a lady and a scholar. If she's not mulling over the various names of famous mustaches and their respective bitter cocktails, she's nibbling on American Craft Singles and Cantillon. Connect with her by email at jesshunter@denveroffthewagon.com.