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Festival Fever: Anchor Brewing Prepares for GABF

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If my math and memory are correct, this is my tenth Great American Beer Festival. I’ve never missed it since I’ve been of legal drinking age. One person who has been to far more than me, not to mention countless other festivals, is the aptly named, Bob Brewer of Anchor Brewing Co. He began attending festivals in the 80s and doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.

Brewer reflected on the evolution of beer festivals on the Anchor Blog in: “On the Road with Anchor – Part 1: From the Early Days to GABF” In his post, he provides a first-hand look at how the brewery experience at a festival has changed over the years:

Pouring at Festivals Then

“When I first started to do beer fests for Anchor back in the mid 1980’s it was a basic thing. We were going to the party and bringing the beer! …we just dragged a couple of kegs and a jockey box—if we even had one back then—to the venue, set up on the table provided, and served. When it was all over, we threw everything back into the van and left.”

Pouring at Festivals Now

“After a few years, many other breweries were bringing custom equipment and larger booth spaces were available for those who wanted to have a greater presence. We decided to get our own larger booth space as well. This is where things started to get interesting in that we needed a booth to fit the space. It would have to reflect the theme of the brewery, be designed to be erected and dismantled by a small crew, and be easily crated for shipment by us or by common carrier. A month or so of design work and some crafty carpentry by a small crew and we had it. Three crates for the booth and three crates for the draft equipment which doubled as our serving tables and we were ready to go.”

Right now, all over the country, brewers are preparing for the Great American Beer Festival. These last couple weeks brewers have been tasting and choosing which beers to send to the competition. Others are taking inventory of beers and equipment to send to Denver, both for the festival and for the bevy of events that surround the GABF. Each will approach the festival and the competition in their own way. Some have been at this a long time and have the process down pat, while others will be experiencing GABF for the first time.

If you will be joining us at this year’s GABF, be sure to keep an eye out for Bob at the beautifully constructed Anchor booth, it’s hard to miss. The GABF experience has been forever improved through the dedication and hard work of guys like Bob.

If you want to read more about Bob Brewer’s GABF experience, including how he gets the booth to Denver, check out the Anchor Blog: “On the Road with Anchor – Part 1: From the Early Days to GABF

Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association's acting editor-in-chief for Andy is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Westminster, Colorado where he is an avid craft beer enthusiast. On occasion, Andy is inspired to write on his experiences with craft beer, and if they are not too ridiculous, you might see the results here on is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.