Of the four sessions at the GABF, the Thursday night and Saturday afternoon sessions are my favourite. Since Thursday is the first session, everyone is full of energy and excited to be there. Most of the brewery reps are behind their booths and all the different beers are still available. Saturday is great because you get to watch the awards being announced and if you're quick, try some of the beers that won that you haven't already tried (before they run out). Friday is still fun, but a lot of the brewery folks are often off at other events and parties, leaving only the volunteers to answer any questions about the brewery and the beer. The Saturday night session can often just be a mad house (although I didn't see any fights this year). Almost all of the beers that won an award are long gone and quite often so are all the beers at the popular breweries. The brewery reps that are actually there are tired and ready to go home. But its still hard to pass up being there for all four sessions just to be able to soak it all in and enjoy the atmosphere.
I spent some time behind the Independence Brewing booth again this year helping to pour beer and answer questions. It was great to see how many people made the trip up from Texas for the festival and there many former Austinites stop by to say hi when they saw where the brewery was from. The Saison was a huge hit and the second keg of it had to be brought out during the first session. It actually had to be rationed during Friday's session to ensure there would at least be some to pour on Saturday afternoon. The Stash IPA was another crowd pleaser and T-shirts for it were for sale at the GABF merchandise booth and it was cool to actually see people wearing them around the festival and out on the streets. There may not have been any medals for Independence this year, but the beer was a bit hit with festival goers.