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The Great American Beer Festival

We hit up the GABF in Denver, CO. Three days later, we pieced together what we think might have happened from the following photos.


Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

I'll bet when I mention the words "beer festival", some very distinct imagery comes to mind:  Most probably you’ll imagine a convention hall stuffed with dudes, swirling their beers a la snifters of brandy like low-rent sophisticates.  I'll have you know that is barely what 87% of them are like. The Great American Beer Festival is a whole other animal. This festival whips Denver, Colorado into a frenzy of beer worship, drawing true believers from across the nation to stand in utmost piety of over 2,700 beers from 580 breweries.

Still, Denver understands that not even the diehards that attend GABF can drink continuously for 72 hours. Somewhere in that span people need to eat, sleep/pass out, and maybe enjoy some of Denver's cultural highlights. For example, I understand that every year after the opening of GABF, Denver commissions multiple artists to leave vomit installations all over the city for passerby consideration. And if the avant-garde isn't your cup of tea, there's still plenty to do.

What follows is not simply a photo essay: The rudimentary cataloguing of the GABF became a descent into inebriation that involved lesbian Oompa Loompas, drunken luchadores, and some of the best beer the world has to offer. Prepare to be jealous.


Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

GABF Preseason  - Day 0.5
Avery Brewing, local heroes of the Colorado Brewing scene, take their GABF warm-ups very seriously. They know the last thing you want to do is get into the festival and sprain your liver's hamstring on the first sample. Accordingly, they produced a "Beers, Bratwurst and Burlesque" event designed to get the blood flowing, often to places you'd have to explain away with "sorry, these jeans just lay funny when I sit." Clearly, they had the beer covered. How about the burlesque?
 


Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Oh yeah. They covered it. The burlesque show is a wonderful throwback.  The word "burlesque" itself comes from the French, originally translating to "DAMNIT WHEN IS SHE GONNA TAKE IT OFF?!" It's a reminder that once upon a time, all it took to get a gent's heart racing was some frilly costuming and about 5 square inches of exposed flesh.
 

 


Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

To those who have never attended a burlesque show, imagine a strip club where the fanciful yet deliberate removal of clothing is actually the focus, not negotiating a clandestine tryst with a dancer.  For those that doubt its potency, I'll refer you to the gentleman onstage sweating bullets while, if he’s anything like Maxim’s staffers, silently counting down the ways he'll be unable to please her if given the opportunity.

That's not to say that burlesque hasn't evolved.  The burlesque at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret is practically post-modern. There was a NASCAR-themed burlesque, a burlesque performed through the eyes of a unnervingly sexy russet potato, and even...


Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

...booty-popping lesbian Oompa Loompas.


Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Oompa, Loompa, Doopity DO ME.


Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Sorry to belabor this point, but when you've experienced the unprecedented levels of sexual confusion that I was stricken with that night, you tend to reflect on it a bit. I don't know if it was the perversion of Willy Wonka's labor force or Avery's bourbon barrel aged "Uncle Jacob's Stout" (a 17.4% ABV wonder that reminded me of dark chocolate, cherries, and what I imagine unicorn tears taste like) that ultimately exhausted us, but with a 7 AM wake-up call scheduled for the next morning, my intrepid photographer and I departed.
 

GABF - Day 1

Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

When you roll with Oskar Blues Brewery, this is breakfast. Since GABF didn't technically start until 5 PM, we needed something to kill most of the day and whatever brain cells still harbored images of Sapphic Oompa Loompas. Oskar Blues obliged by taking us on a tour that could only be described as 100% pure, uncut brewery porn.


Photographed for Maxim by Nate Wiger | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Oskar Blues Brewery is largely known for two things: Being an early adopter of canning craft brew (it's already their 10th CANniversary! Sorry) and their commitment to bittering their beers until they taste like a left hook.


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