Great American Beer Fest changes policy to accept every brewery in 2014

Categories: Beer Man

After enduring a crush of demand from craft breweries across the country that wanted to attend the Great American Beer Festival, the Brewers Association announced to its members last night that it will change the registration process in 2014.

Breweries will now have a set number of days to register for the competition part of the festival, and every single one of them will be admitted, according to the new policy.

See also:
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- Mountain Sun/Vine Street breweries hoping for the best after being left out of GABF

As a result, however, the number of beers that each brewery can submit for judging will likely decline significantly from the current number of ten per brewery.

"The number of beer entries allowed per brewery will be based on doing the math of the number of breweries that registered during the sign-up period and the pre-determined capacity of beers that we can successfully judge that year," the BA says.

In other words, if the BA determines that it has enough people to judge 5,000 beers, and 1,000 breweries register, then each brewery will be able to submit five beers. If 2,500 breweries register, however, each one will only be able to submit two beers. (Note: there were at total of 2,538 craft breweries in the country as of June 30, 2013).

This year, the BA set the number of beers that can be judged at 4,675, a 7.5 percent increase from the previous year. Some of the breweries who submitted beers won't be pouring at the festival, while some of the breweries who are pouring won't be judged.

More than 1,000 breweries attempted to register for the festival this year, causing one of the BA's servers to crash. Since there were only about 600 slots, however, it sold out in under two hours and more than 360 breweries ended up on a waiting list.

Some of those breweries have since been added to the roster, but many more are simply out of luck this year, and they vented their frustrations at the BA.

"The Brewers Association takes very seriously the 'race to enter' registration issue that has resulted from a rapidly growing number of breweries along with increasing interest in the competition and festival," GABF director Nancy Johnson wrote in her statement to members. "Since registration closed this year, we have been working to address this issue by devising a plan for 2014 that aims to eliminate the...problem for future GABFs."

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Why allow breweries to submit beer for judging, but not attend the festival? If the beer is to be judged, it should be sampled and represented. That might help cut down on the number of entries and the rush for spots.

ScubaSteve topcommenter

What the hell good is all of this when you can't even get tickets?


They should do this event twice a year to meet demand.  One during the summer, one during winter.  It would be a great way to diversify the beer offerings too, by changing the seasonal focus.

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