Eating pretzels off a stranger’s neck? Check. (DO’s and DON’Ts for Great American Beer Festival)

by Julia Yugel, Lisa Bongiovanni, and Jess Hunter

The Great American Beer Festival is this weekend and the level of happiness this inspires in us is more than Christmas, Disney World, and finding a basket of puppies on our doorstep combined.

These puppies are despondent because they aren't allowed to go to GABF

The festival falls right after Oktoberfest and coincides with Denver Beer Week,  which means that there will be beer-related events going on around the city all week. (Of course DOTW has an extensive list of all the events you could possibly attend).

As GABF veterans, we wisely began prepping early for this year’s festivities, and, drink in hand, took a fond look back at previous years (or, at least the small parts we remember of it) in order to provide wisdom to others so they can have a fabulous time and don’t repeat our mistakes.

The Great American Beer Festival is sold out, so to all you poor souls who didn’t get tickets in time, we’ll have a tiny sample of beer in your honor. (We also suggest that you take note of our very first DO for next year.)

DO buy tickets (and extra tickets) early

Did you know that GABF sold out in record time this year? It only took 7 days for all four sessions to COMPLETELY SELL OUT.

That means if you are serious about going, you should check the official website months before GABF to see when tickets go on sale and set several calendar reminders for yourself to buy tickets. One week does not give you a lot of time to be undecided about purchasing tickets.

If you are smart and plan ahead, take the time to invest in buying extra tickets. When the event inevitably sells out, people will be scrambling on Craigslist to get tickets and thanks to the simple economic principle of supply and demand, you will be the savior to many a friend.

DON’T expect to buy a ticket for face value (or less) after the sessions sell out, but DO look around for a bargain

If you missed the boat, suck it up, and realize you’re probably going to pay more for your ticket. Don’t complain about the cost. You did it to yourself. Remember that you don’t really have any control or bargaining power. Posting a listing online saying that you “refuse to pay any more than face value” is going to end with you not having a ticket.

That being said, there are still bargains to be found if you want to take the time and effort to find them.. Some people are actually nice enough to sell their ticket for the original price, but you have to be vigilant about checking for ticket listings. You can also lurk outside the convention center before each session starts in hopes that a scalper will be selling tickets for cheap. It’s really a matter of personal judgement and how much of a risk of not getting a ticket you want to take.

DO make a necklace of pretzels

Pretzel dress may be a mistake. You will end up naked and covered in saliva by the end of the night.

When you’re drunk, and hungry, it’s a nice surprise to look down and realize that you have food hanging around your neck (unless you have a ZZ Top-style beard, in which case looking down and seeing food might not be surprising anymore). If you get good pretzels, they can also be used for bartering. The food choices at the convention center are very limited/shitty so bringing your own snack as a fashionable accessory is a good idea.



DO make shirts in advance

Noticed a theme yet? Putting things off until the last minute is a poor idea that will leave you ticketless, pretzelless and shirtless when it comes time to go to GABF. If you are planning on making your own shirts, either for fun or for promotional purposes (or both!) try to make it sooner than two hours prior to the event.  A good rule with bedazzling and iron-on glitter lettering is that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. It is also a good idea to stick to white shirts to make everything stand out.

It also doesn't work if you WEAR the shirt while trying to decorate

DO get there early

The lines get long really quickly, and the earlier you get there, the more time you have to make fun of groups of middle-aged men who are all wearing t-shirts with dumb sexual innuendos on them.

We don't know if we would have time to wait in line to sleep with whoever wears this shirt

Also, the sooner you get in to get beer and have a better chance of tracking down the rare beers before its too late..

We highly suggest recruiting a punctual manpanion (or lady friend) to stand in line early so that you can meet him/her at the last minute after your shirt making takes three hours longer than you planned.

DO figure out your transportation/lodging in advance

Hotel rooms are hard to come by GABF weekend and can get pretty pricey, so make sure to book way in advance. Look for one that is within walking distance of the convention center. This may be an easier option than finding a sober friend to drive you on a Saturday night. Other options for getting home include:

  • Befriending someone based solely on the proximity of their house to downtown
  • Riding the light rail or another form of public transportation
  • Bribing friends to come get you (still cheaper than a hotel)
  • Tricking a member of your mantourage into providing a ride

DO practice for the big day

Although it seems like 1 oz. samples of beer would take forever to get you drunk, it can happen surprisingly fast. Prep for the event by having a five-hour Power Hour with your friends for several nights leading up to GABF. Once you’ve begun to master this, take your training up a level by placing the beers in different locations around the room. Put obstacles on the floor and try not to trip and spill your beer while racing to the other beer. Challenge your friends to see how many glass cups each of you can break (and avoid breaking).

DON’T drop your beer. It’s humiliating

Cleavage: helping women drink and multitask since the invention of alcohol

Hilarious for all of the people around you, but humiliating for you. Find some way to attach your cup to you.

Create a necklace with a cupholder. Buy a rubber bracelet to put around it. Or, wear a shirt that creates just enough cleavage to keep your cup in.

DON’T boo when people drop and break their glass

Yes, everyone around you is booing and cheering. And yes, it IS hilarious. However, show some compassion for a fellow beer-lover and avoid ridiculing them.

DON’T hit on guys at booths by telling them they look like Carson Daly

This confuses/insults them and then they usually don’t give you free stuff. And in some cases, it turns out that they know your boyfriend and then it’s weird. Or something…

DON’T hook up with anyone at the end of the event

The end of the beer festival starts to look like a singles event in bad florescent lighting, and it gets even worse when everyone is kicked out at 10 p.m. A large crowd gathers outside the entrance as everyone tries to pair off/get their bearings since they’re wasted and it’s still early in the night.

Don’t let your beer goggles fool you, and avoid making out with anyone.

DON’T drink more at the bars downtown afterwards

Because you will regret it in the morning. Unless you’re someone who enjoys waking up wondering why there is vomit behind your television and your pants are in a wheelbarrow.

Frolicking in the leaves might seem like a good idea drunk, but then you won't remember where you left your pants

Just say no, and instead go home with the person you just met outside the festival, because at least you know they have good taste in beer.

See you all this weekend!


About juliayugel

Julia didn’t always love beer. Her infatuation with beer started at the Great American Beer Festival, when she discovered that there really was more to the world than Keystone Light and PBR. When she’s not going on beer tours or working, Julia is usually watching a wide array of reality television, taking pictures with people as though they are celebrities, being inappropriately mean to drunk guys or doing outdoorsy things–like drinking on patios.