Bob Pease, chief executive/president of the Brewers Association — the not-for-profit trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers — looks at the importance of online beer festivals

Brewers Association Bob Pease

In the current climate, the Brewers Association believes it is more important than ever to bring the beer community together. Like other events around the world, the in-person version of Great American Beer Festival (GABF) has pivoted to an immersive, online experience, taking place from 16th-18th October. We are determined that the show must go on, albeit with a different look and feel.

Our success in putting on the virtual Craft Brewers Conference in May and virtual Homebrewers Con in June proved the importance of giving beer lovers, brewers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts an opportunity to come together online and celebrate the nation’s craft brewing scene. Join us virtually as we seek to ‘Brewnite’ the nation!

Founded in 1982, GABF is North America’s pre-eminent beer festival and competition, but this year will look a little different. We will be introducing a nationwide ‘passport’ programme, giving passport holders exclusive access to beery deals at participating festival breweries nationwide. We’ll also be offering talks and tastings from the ‘rock stars’ of the American craft brewing world, educational content, and fun interactive events. The full schedule will be announced mid-August.

GABF 2020

The festival’s renowned professional beer competition will take place this year and a panel of more than 100 professional judges will assess more than 8,000 expected entries to identify the three beers that best represent each style category. The GABF gold, silver, and bronze medals are recognised around the world as symbols of brewing excellence.

We are thankful to be able to move forward with this year’s competition and have the opportunity to award brewers’ achievements and generate consumer awareness for beer styles and trends. We look forward to celebrating the annual accomplishments in brewing excellence and unveiling this year’s winners. Many medal-winning American craft beers are, or have been in the recent past, available in the UK.

‘What’s so special about American craft beer?’

Let me give you five good reasons:

  • American craft brewers benefit from proximity to the freshest examples of highly sought-after hop varieties. By visiting the hop fields and selecting the hop varieties themselves, brewers are able to develop flavour profiles in American craft beer that are difficult to match elsewhere.
  • The quality and freshness of raw materials, combined with brewing expertise, allows American craft brewers to produce world-class examples of beer styles which regularly win top honours at high-profile international beer competitions, judged by panels of beer experts
  • American craft beer is widely perceived to be bigger, bolder, and more complex in character than other nations’, making it more flavourful, more innovative, and more creative. Many American craft brewers are so successful that other brewing nations are copying them in a ‘full circle’ effect.
  • New and exciting American craft beers are emulated all over the world (think juicy/hazy IPAs), and consumer demand for styles like American IPA, barrel-aged beer, and well-made classics continues to grow both domestically and overseas
  • The myriad flavours in American craft beer make it the perfect partner for food
BA US craft beer

American craft beer normally has a strong presence at the Great British Beer Festival, in London every August, but with this event also cancelled we hope to be able to bring a world-class selection of high-quality American craft beers to the UK for next year’s festival.

In the meantime, innovative, flavoursome, American craft beer can be found in selected UK pubs, bars, and restaurants, or supermarkets, independent bottle shops, online beer retailers, and beer subscription services.

For more information about how to get involved with online GABF, please visit

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

The BA represents 4,000-plus US breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers.

The BA organises events including the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival, Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America, SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week.

The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine, and Brewers Publications is the largest publisher of brewing literature in the US.

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association and the free Brew Guru mobile app.

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