(Denver, CO) – Brewers Association Director, Paul Gatza, and Event Director, Nancy Johnson posted a joint statement to the BA forum on Wednesday night regarding the overflow of Great American Beer Festival signups and a waitlist that now tops 300. The statement does indicate that some breweries on the wait list will be allowed into the competition but “not nearly all.”
As many of you know, Great American Beer Festival (GABF) brewery registration filled up in under two hours yesterday; last year, brewery registration filled up in six days. Interest from Brewers Association (BA) brewery members participating in the competition and the festival has been skyrocketing in parallel with the explosive growth of the craft brewing industry.
Just like public interest in attending the festival, right now brewery registration is a matter of supply and demand, where more breweries would like to participate than we have the capacity to accept. In setting caps for beers to be judged in the competition, and likewise for the number of attendees at the festival, the BA is always seeking to balance the high level of interest from our members and fans with the imperative to conduct a world-class competition and to host a fun, safe event for the public.
Unfortunately, during yesterday’s brewery registration, some users encountered technical issues. We are still investigating those, as there was not a universal impact. During the time that some users encountered the error, more than 650 breweries were able to successfully register for the competition. Regrettably, even if there had been no technical issues, GABF brewery slots would have filled up in a matter of hours due to the high demand.
A wait list is available for breweries that still wish to participate; some breweries will come off the wait list, but not nearly all. The process now is for our staff to review all current registrations for duplicate and ineligible entries, and then we will begin contacting breweries on the wait list, hopefully by the end of this week. Based on current numbers, we do expect to be able to offer some form of participation in the festival hall as an option to some companies on the waitlist.
We’re proud of the success of our industry and the GABF, and also recognize the need to look at ways to amend the competition registration process/model. Of course, adapting an event of the scale of the GABF is no small feat. The Brewers Association staff, along with our Event Committee, will of course be looking at possible changes for future years.