There is a story, at least partly apocryphal, of Charlie Papazian, co-founder of the American Homebrewers Association, telling the great English beer critic Michael Jackson that he and some other Yanks were thinking of launching something called the Great American Beer Festival.
“That’s a great idea, Charlie,” Jackson said. “Only what will you serve for beer?”
We can forgive Jackson’s drollery. It was the very early 1980s, and America beer-wise was mostly notable for “single breweries … which produce as much beer as entire European countries,” as Jackson wrote in his seminal 1977 work, The World Guide to Beer. Size aside, there just wasn’t much there to celebrate. Most Americans drank the same pilsner interpretation that Budweiser et al embodied; triumphs of engineering, yes, but certainly nothing to hang a beer-tasting festival on.
Papazian and the AHA back in Boulder, CO, pressed on, however. They held organizational meetings in Papazian’s living room with 10 to 15 volunteers, as well as Daniel Bradford, the AHA’s first hire, who would co-found the GABF with Papazian. (Bradford is the publisher of All About Beer Magazine.) The group settled on June 4, 1982, a Friday, as the date of the inaugural GABF, nestling it amid the annual weekend-long homebrewers conference.
More at All About Beer.
· Remembering the First Great American Beer Festival [All About Beer]
Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association.