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Complete Guide to Scoring 2016 GABF Tickets

2013 GABF

This year’s Great American Beer Festival celebrates its 35th Anniversary, which means if last year was bigger, better and beerier, 2016 till be teeming at the seams. And we’ve got everything you need to know to score tickets to the 2016 GABF.

Last year’s expansion of convention center capacity brought the event from 49,000 attendees to upwards of 60,000 attendees. Additionally the extra space allowed an extra 120 some breweries to be added bringing the count up from 710 breweries in 2014 to 830 in 2015 as well as nearly 4,000 beers poured on the festival floor.

This year’s event takes place October 6-8, 2016 and will again consist of Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening sessions from 5:30-10 p.m. and a Saturday afternoon session from 12-4 p.m. GABF tickets go on sale TODAY,on August 2nd at 10 a.m. MST for AHA Members and tomorrow, August 3rd at 10 a.m. MST for General Admission through Ticketmaster.

Here are the quick facts on this year’s Great American Beer Festival aka GABF


  • Thursday, Oct 6 evening session. Doors at 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct 7 evening session. Doors at 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct 8 afternoon session. Doors at Noon – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct 8 evening session. Doors at 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.

The Feel of Each Session

Each session has it’s own feel. Thursday night is a clean slate, beers are fully stocked, beer industry folks are still bright eyed and raring to go and its usually the diehards who have already requested Friday off work.The excitement of Thursday night is unlike anything you’ll experience so you can afford to take chalk Friday off as a day to recoup then this is a must.

Friday is neat because most of the rare stuff is still available, plus if you can’t take a day off, you can go all out and not have to worry about the repercussions.

Saturday’s day session is great for those who want to try the award winners immediately after they are announced, as the award ceremony wraps right as this afternoon session begins. Additionally as this is also the AHA members session, it consists of many who are in the know.

Saturday’s night session might as well be Spring Break or Mardi Gras. Avoid at all costs unless you’re just out to get trashed skulling coldies. We are not.

Brasserie St. James GABF 2015
Photo By: Dustin Hall, The Brewtography Project


$80 prior to taxes, $84.50 after initial fees. Prices rose by 5 dollars from last year to fund operational costs.


colorado convention center
The Colorado Convention Center
The Blue Bear, located at the Colorado Convention Center is always a welcome sign of the glory that is GABF.


Sam Calagione GABF

800+ breweries and over 3,800 beers on hand.

The big change in this year’s fest is that every brewery who wanted to pour and attend the festival had the chance to apply to a lottery system to participate. All breweries who will be pour have been notified however the Brewer’s Association has not yet released that list to the public. We’ll be sure report back as soon as we find out!

How to buy tickets

  • Tickets will once again be sold through Ticketmaster here.
  • Tickets will sell out immediately so as Sam Jackson once eloquently put it “Hold on to your butts.” We’re talking less than 30 minutes, and perhaps even faster.
  • Absolutely make sure you have a Ticketmaster account, and if you already have one make sure all information is up to date. That includes, address, and more importantly credit card information.
  • Make sure you are completely ready at 10 a.m. If you need to block off your Outlook from 9:30 to 10:30 do it. Last minute meetings kill dreams.
  • Prepare! Login to Ticketmaster around an hour prior to the sale, but check frequently 45-30 minutes prior to the sale as with concert ticket releases certain sites have begun using a waiting room. We haven’t seen this with Ticketmaster but bette safe than sorry.
  • Have your credit card info typed out and ready to be pasted into a text field just in case. Oh and getting numerous friends to try for the entire group doesn’t hurt either.
  • Remember AHA member pre-sale generally only allows 2 tickets to be purchased per transaction for the Saturday morning session and AHA & general public sale allows 4 tickets to be purchased per transaction for all other sessions
  • Watch the clock. I generally keep my phone on hand and count down the literal seconds till 10 a.m.  Don’t knock it, it works.
  • If at first your refresh doesnt work, refresh and refresh and refresh again. I generally will keep trying for a full hour as some tickets get stuck in people’s carts. Those people are novices, you are not.
  • Gamble. This methodology is a bit risky.  I’ve heard that buying tickets via mobile devices for Ticketmaster events may be easier. The logic is that they set aside a certain allotment of tickets just for mobile purchases and it runs through a different server, so you aren’t battling with all of the other traffic. Again, this method is risky, don’t blame me if it doesn’t work, and buy me a drink if it does.
  • The last resort, if you don’t get any tickets during the Ticketmaster sale, is always to check the secondary market. We recommend planning on being able to find a ticket, even if you have to wait till the day of, perhaps even an hour before or after the each session starts to hit up the scalpers for cheap tickets. It’s not ideal but because scalpers flood the market and snatch up all the tickets you can usually find a bunch for dirt cheap or at least for cost the day of the fest.

Is it worth it?

Garret Oliver GABF

The short answer is YES.  For a full write up check out last year’s GABF recap.

If you attend the festival Thursday or Friday night you’ll get to try some extremely rare beers that you’ve been dying to try.

If you attend Saturday, you’ll get to try this year’s medal winners.

You’ll always discover something amazing that you didn’t expect to try.

Brewers and founders have recently done a better job at manning their stations, meaning you’ll get a chance to meet several of the brewery celebrities who make your beer.

It’s a circus! Essentially the event is the adult version of Disney world, all of the beer is included, there’s schwag everywhere, people dress in ridiculous costumes, random things happen, like meeting Frank Thomas or members of Hanson.

Additionally the Brewers Association has continued to refine the festival to add tremendous new elements that provide a greater depth of experience, including last year’s Meet the Brewers section. This addition required breweries to staff their booths at all times with knowledgeable staff who actually work at the breweries versus with volunteers.

In the end, if you don’t get tickets it’ll be ok. During the week of GABF the entire city of Denver raises their collective glasses to celebrate beer. The week is filled with beer dinners, meet the brewer events, special tappings, tap takeovers, brewery tours, and much more. We’ll keep you posted with all of the happenings around town in our special GABF edition of the Denver Beer Beat. Be sure to watch for our Fantasy Brewery Draft again, and as always we’ll have full coverage of the festival so stay tuned!

Sam Calagione GABF
Photo Credit: Will Dozier


As per usual, be sure to check back frequently on our GABF page, as we’ll be bringing back our complete coverage of the Great American Beer Festival. (All coverage is subject to change)

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  1. Matt

    Just a correction: the AHA member pre-sale allows for 4 ticket purchases for the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening sessions (the same as the public sale). The only sessions that only 2 tickets are allowed are the Saturday afternoon session and both Paired (formerly F2T) sessions – which usually sell out in the pre-sale. Thanks!

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