The Great American Beer Festival kicked off last night for the 36th time. Thousands of people flooded into the Colorado Convention Center to imbibe on more than 3,900 beers from 800 breweries from across the US. Hailed as the largest festival of its kind, GABF sold out quickly — proving the event continues to maintain its popularity (even if ticket sales were slower). Last night’s highlights included the usual march of the bagpipes around the convention center, the creative costumes and general drunken debauchery.

But aside from the typical scenes, there were more than a few special tappings. This included a whopping 18 percent ABV beer from Black Project called Covert #1 that went almost immediately and a collaboration beer from Avery and Odell that was blended on site during a ceremonious pulling of the taps from Adam Avery and Doug Odell. Other highlights included a delicious Fernet Branca beer from Forbidden Roots made in partnership with Fernet Branca using 17 ingredients from its secret recipe. If there was one snafu last night, it happened at the very end when the restrooms were reportedly blocked off, leaving thousands of people without a place to relieve themselves. But according to the organizers of the event, the incident won’t occur moving forward.

The crowd during the special collaboration tapping from Avery and Odell. Photo by Alysia Shoemaker.

READ: Beers Worth Chasing At The Great American Beer Festival

Many beers and two nights remain for the popular festival, including the announcements of who will win the coveted medals during this year’s competition. Make sure to check back with 303 Magazine for updated coverage and follow us on Instagram to see more live from the festival.


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All photography by Kyle Cooper, unless otherwise noted.