The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) began in 1982 with less than two dozen breweries. Now the three-day event attracts hundreds of breweries from across the nation, including several from Miami, which will pour at this year's festival, held September 20 through 22 at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver.
Organized by the Brewers Association, the annual festival is the largest collection of U.S. craft breweries in one spot. The event typically sells out, and only tickets for the Thursday session are still available for $85 each.
The Sunshine State will be represented by the Florida Brewers Guild and 23 breweries, including eight from South Florida: Florida Keys Brewing, Funky Buddha, J. Wakefield, LauderAle, M.I.A. Beer Co., NightLife Brewing, NOBO Brewing, and the Tank.
The list includes some new Miami breweries, such as NightLife, which will pour at the Meet the Brewer tents, staffed exclusively by brewery employees (as opposed to Brewers Association workers or volunteers) and designed to be more engaging and conversational with attendees.
LauderAle will also appear in the Meet the Brewer section. Last year, the Fort Lauderdale brewery won a gold medal for its C Porter in the Field Beer category. Brewer Mike White grabbed a last-minute flight to Denver to attend the medal ceremony the same day and ended up taking home the gold for his brewery. LauderAle cofounder Kyle Jones said of the victory: "We're just this tiny brewery in Fort Lauderdale. You know what they say — if you don't play, you can't win." In addition to having a Meet the Brewer tent, LauderAle will pour C Porter at the Heavy Medal tent and will participate in the festival's paired event, where the brewery will pour the coffee porter Thrillist and the hoppy blonde ale I Got Lost on the Way Here.
Last year, Funky Buddha snagged a silver medal for No Crusts, a brown ale that tastes like a PB&J sandwich, in the Field Beer category.
Only one other local brewery has taken home a GABF gold medal. In 2014, Wynwood Brewing snagged first for Pop's Porter in the festival's Robust Porter category. Wynwood Brewing isn't scheduled to pour at this year's festival.
If you're headed to GABF to sample beers, here's a list of what South Florida breweries will pour:
Florida Keys Brewing. Iguana Bait honey hibiscus kolsch, Spearfish amber ale, Bayside coffee blonde ale, Run Aground oatmeal brown ale, and Pucker Power hibiscus key lime Weisse.
Funky Buddha. Rum barrel-aged imperial piña colada, El Camino Haze IPA, Last Snow coconut and coffee porter, and bourbon barrel-aged Muy Bonita imperial apple pie brown ale.
LauderAle. Ordinarily Not Bitter English bitter ale, C Porter coconut porter, La Niña fruit-style beer, and Black Mamba export stout.
MIA Beer Co. Neon white IPA, Mega Mix pale ale, Miami Weiss Hefeweizen-style ale, Big in Japan rice lager, and Chango Berliner Weisse.
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NightLife Brewing. Gunfighter blonde Hefeweizen and 90 Mile pale ale.
NOBO Brewing. Jalapeño honey blonde, My Schwartz Is Bigger Than Your Schwartz Schwarzbier, Milkshake Your Money Maker New England-style IPA, and Red White & Boom imperial stout.
The Tank. La Finca Miami saison, Freedom Tower American amber ale, Nuestra double IPA, La Playita hoppy pilsner, and Oktoberfest-Märzen lager.
J. Wakefield. Haterade Florida Weisse, Troll So Hard Florida Weisse, Frida sour ale (a collaboration with Brewski of Helsingborg, Sweden), and I’m Your Huckleberry sour ale.