GABF celebrates 21 years

Festival draws 21,000 and proves 'drinking beer pays off'

Oct 9, 2002 - The 2002 Great American Beer Festival in Denver draw 21,000 people over three days last week, and increase of 2,000 from the year before.


"After 21 years of giving the public the best American beer under one roof, there's always one thing that stays the same -- the dedication and hard work from the Association of Brewers staff, volunteers, brewers, judges and industry supporters," said festival director Nancy Johnson. "I feel honored to work and sip beer with people that understand how to make the American beer industry an American beer family. Cheers to everyone's support."

Some of the highlights:
- 301 breweries on the floor.
- More than 1,300 Beers on the floor.
- 393 breweries participated in Professional Panel Blind Tasting.
- 1,820 beers judged in the competition.
- 172 medals handed out in 58 categories.
- 2,439 volunteers, 44,390 volunteer hours.

"Who says drinking beer for a living doesn't pay off," said Kevin McNerney of Sweetwater Brewing Co., Atlanta, Georgia, said after winning Small Brewing Company Brewmaster of the Year. "This has been 11 years of hard work developing our brewery. To get positive feedback for our hard work and dedication is elating."

"I feel flattered and honored," said Kurt Widmer, Brewmaster of Widmer Brothers Brewing, Portland, Ore., and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewmaster of the Year. "And at the same time I recognize this (award) as a tribute to all people here that work hard to make great beers."

Among the many foreign brewers and beer enthusiasts at the festival was Frank Boon of Belgium's Brouwerij Boon. "Europeans will tell you Americans water down their beer, that they put ice in it," he said. "They don't know what has occurred in the last 20 years. They need to come here and see how much as changed."

- 2002 GABF results.
- Are American beers getting better?

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