The annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is here again and it is bigger than ever. With some controversies in the past about the involvement of large beer corporations, some changes are expected this weekend to improve beer enthusiasts experience.
In the past, big beer brands like MillerCoors, Constellation Brands, and AB InBev are able to dominate endcaps through their subsidiaries because of big sponsorship of the event. But it kind of defeats the purpose of showcasing local craft beers.
This year, The Brewers Association (BA) announced that end caps will be reserved only for those brewers that meet the organization’s definition of a craft brewer, which usually means small, traditional breweries that are independent or have less than 25 percent ownership from large alcohol corporations.
Big beer brands have been stealing the thunder from local craft beer makers in the past GABF. Not this time. Most of the big beer brands will have less presence overall. Some of them will still be there. MillerCoors will have a table where they will serve most of their beers and AB InBev will only have 2 of their purchased formerly independent breweries participating in the event. But for the most part, they are gone. Bud is not there, Blue Moon is not there, and Lagunitas, which was popular in past GABF events, won’t be there either.
Maryland’s Flying Dog caused quite a stir when they announced that they won’t be participating in this year’s GABF because of the BA’s new policy about possible offensive beer names. In April, BA announced that it will be taking a stand against beer names that can be classified as offensive, racist, or misogynistic. Flying Dog thinks this constitutes censorship. It will be fun to see if any of the breweries will come up with names that will push BAs definition of what of what offensive names are.
A lot of breweries do a lot of gimmicks to get their brew more attention. There were the funny stunts from Bull & Bush and Oskar Blues in the past, and then there were the cannabis-infused beers from Dad & Dudes. This year, Melvin Brewing will be going WWE (or should it be WWF) as they teamed up with wrestling legend Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who will be all over the fest. What else can I say but… HHHOOOOO…