GABF 2017 first night finds: Ten standout beers we discovered at the opening session of the Great American Beer Festival

Billed as “part imperial stout, part churro,” Dragon Mask is an imperial stout brewed with cinnamon, cacao nibs, salt and vanilla.

New Belgium Brewing Co.'s booth at 2007 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. (Paul Karolyi for Denverite)
New Belgium Brewing Co.’s booth at 2007 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. (Paul Karolyi for Denverite)

The Great American Beer Festival is all about discovery.

Whether you are a roamer who likes to randomly walk up to booths or you strike with military-like precision the breweries pre-loaded on your handy GABF app, finding new delicious things and keeping your ears to the ground about what’s good is a huge part of the fun.

Here are 10 first-night finds — beers worth checking out when the festival resumes this evening.


Is the Great American Beer Festival worth it — for brewers? Denver craft brewers are split

A half-dozen Denver breweries explain why they are embracing — or skipping — pouring beer at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival.

A volunteer pours a beer sample at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. (Courtesy of Brewers Association)
A volunteer pours a beer sample at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
(Courtesy of Brewers Association)

It might seem like a no-brainer. The world’s biggest beer festival is unfolding right at your front step, with thousands of discerning (and not-so-discerning) beer lovers descending on the Colorado Convention Center with necklaces braided with pretzels and glasses at the ready.

If you’re a Denver brewery, how could you not join the party?


No GABF tickets? No problem. 10 great Denver events to hit during GABF Week 2017

Check out the counterprogramming. You may even find it more to your liking.

A packed patio at Denver Beer Company in Highland. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) highland; brewery; patio; food; night life; restaurant; beer; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite
A packed patio at Denver Beer Company in Highland. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Great American Beer Festival is a big, loud, sprawling celebration of the nation’s craft beer culture, a chance to drink your way across the country one ounce at a time.

But you should definitely check out the counter-programming, too. You may even find it more to your liking.


From Trump Hands to a Drama Queen, a look inside Colorado breweries’ GABF success

Great American Beer Fest, Oct. 6, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) great american beer fest; gabf; denver; colorado; food; nightlife; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado;
Great American Beer Fest, Oct. 6, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

When the guys at Cannonball Creek Brewing set out to name their session IPA, they thought small.

The Golden brewery had never made a lower alcohol beer than this crushable hoppy beer, after all.

Putting aside the adage about never mixing politics and business, Cannonball Creek christened its new beer Trump Hands, a reference to a bizarre turn on the 2016 campaign trail that, like most of them, involved the larger-than-life reality star turned Republican presidential candidate. 


Beer by Numbers: The story of American craft brewing in 11 statistics

Each year, the Boulder-based Brewers Association throws a bunch of numbers at media covering the trade group’s signature event, the Great American Beer Festival.

BI recognized New Belgium Brewery not for its beer, but for its environmental practices and employee satisfaction. (Courtesey of New Belgium)
(Courtesey of New Belgium)

Each year, the Boulder-based Brewers Association throws a bunch of numbers at media covering the trade group’s signature event, the Great American Beer Festival.