Ask A Cicerone: How can I drink a weird combo of beers at GABF and still enjoy them?

Hey, beer geeks! (or dorks, or nerds, whichever you prefer.) It is about that time of year for us to run around like candy-high children on Halloween… at the Great American Beer Festival!

Here’s a little introduction to the festival and new additions for 2016 from the Brewers’ Association:

It’s the 35th anniversary of the Great American Beer Festival, y’all! The first GABF took place in 1982, and there were 24 breweries, 47 beers and 800 attendees. In 2016, we expect more than 800 breweries, 3,800+ beers and 60,000 attendees! (It’s no wonder GABF was voted best festival in the country.)

For real. Let’s hang on a second. That is a TON of breweries…actually, an undrinkable amount of breweries! So, I decided that as a Professional Brewer and Certified Cicerone, I thought I would share some insider info about how to tackle this beautiful, immense, beer list.


  1. Head to your app store of choice and download “My GABF” app, or kick it old school and print out the entire list of beers served (will be live on the website by October 5).

*UPDATE: Our friends at have the beer list posted here!

  1. Get a beer, or two from your fridge. (The beer list is really long and you might need some inspiration!)
  2. All samples are supposed to be poured at the one ounce line and the more beer you mix, the more drunk you get, so let’s break it into 16 samples and you can multiply my theory from there AND taste lots of great beer before your tongue goes numb.
  3. Below is “Kim’s Beer Slope Theory.” It’s a theory surrounded by the core concept that it is important to begin with beers that are delicate and crisp and end your session with the highest alcohol and octane beers. Here’s a chart to show you what I mean:


5. Get your list of beers poured at the GABF and start assembling them into lists of ones you would like to drink, from most delicate to most octane.

6. You will need to think about what kind of beer you like and whether you want to specialize in one or two types of beer. Which beer styles would you like to try? I like to try everything (especially sours), so my list would look something like this:

  • 6 beers from the Delicate category:
    • Kolsch
    • Cream Ale
    • Gose
    • Another Gose
    • Fruit Lambic
    • Another Fruit Lambic
  • 4 beers from the Malty category:
    • Dry Hopped Amber Ale
    • Brown Ale
    • Schwartzbier
    • Dunkel
  • 4 beers from the IPA/Sour category:
    • IPA
    • Another IPA
    • Sour
    • Another Sour
  • 2 beers from the Octane category:
    • Bourbon Barreled Stout
    • Foreign Extra Stout
    • Sub: Jalapeno Ale
    • Sub 2: Smoked Beer (Seriously, drink the last two last of all!)


(I need to try the beer aged in these caves! Too cool.)

7. When the list is released on October 5, you will easily be able to plan your beer journey!

Slainte and we hope to see you at GABF!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s