Updated: GONE! GABF Brewers Slots Reserved In Less Than 2 hours
More than 170 breweries hoping to participate in the 2013 Great American Beer Festival in Denver are on a waiting list as all 600 brewer spots for the festival were reserved in less than two hours.
Update 7/10 7:30 p.m.: In an e- mail sent at 5:26 pm Wednesday to brewers, the Brewers Association Event Committee acknowledged some trying to register for the Great American Beer Festival encountered technical issues during the on-line registration process and failed to secure a spot. The e-mail states: "Regrettably, even if there had been no technical issues, GABF brewery slots would have filled up in a matter of hours due to the high demand. A wait list is available for breweries that still wish to participate; some breweries will come off the wait list, but not nearly all. The process now is for our staff to review all current registrations for duplicate and ineligible entries, and then we will begin contacting breweries on the wait list, hopefully by the end of this week. Based on current numbers, we do expect to be able to offer some form of participation in the festival hall as an option to some companies on the waitlist."
The e-mail concludes by recognizing the need to possibly amend the on-line brewer registration process for the future.
Our original story continues below.
It seems that the GABF is now just as popular with the brewers as it is with beer fans. The Denver Postreports that last year, the Great American Beer Festival and its 580 brewery slots filled up in two days.
Jeff Crabtree of Crabtree Brewing in Greeley says he had no trouble securing a spot for his 11 beer entries this year. However, he was preparing 72 hours in advance and was ready when registration opened Tuesday morning.
“I was at the brewery at 8 o’clock, I had everything laid out on my desk and I was ready to go,” said Crabtree. “I was brewing beer, the team was packaging beer, business as usual. But I watched the clock just like I would watch the clock adding hops.”
Brewers hoping to showcase their beers at the annual festival must submit a lengthy registration form for each beer they're bringing.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Rocky Mountain Brewery owner Duane Lujan was one of a handful of breweries unable to secure a spot:
Colorado Springs’ Rocky Mountain Brewery was among those locked out. Owner Duane Lujan, whose fruit beers have won medals at the World Beer Cup in Chicago, said he tried to sign up an hour after registration began because he was trying to finish a batch of beer. He missed out in 2012 because he waited two weeks to register so he thought he was signing up early enough. The form is lengthy and complicated – he said it has taken him 30 minutes to fill out in the past – and when he tried to sign up the website said the festival was full. “Maybe this GABF thing has become like eBay. Maybe the guy who is most technical savvy wins everything,” he said. “It’s extremely frustrating to not be able to do what we do well, which is brew world-class beers and bring interesting new beers to the forefront and to be able to be in a face-to-face setting with our customers and to see their reactions. “ He is on the waiting list but doesn’t expect to be called. He doubts he will try to compete in the festival again.
The recent rise in popularity of craft brewing has attracted brewers and the public to the annual beer festival which began as a one day tasting event of 24 breweries in 1982. Today, there are over 2,400 beers to sample.
Jeff Crabtree says he’s not surprised brewers secured all the spots so quickly. He says one just has to be prepared. “We are on such a cusp of an exploding marketplace that you know, the GABF only had so many booths available and the brewers that are on it, are able to register.”
Beer lovers have always had difficulty securing a spot. In 2012, all 49,000 public tickets to the event sold out in less than 50 minutes.