We attended the Saturday Afternoon Session of the Great American Beer Festival, and I got to say, I left somewhat disappointed.
Let me say this: It is a great event, and if you have never experienced it, it is worth the price of admission. I was standing in line waiting to get in (for two hours) and I figured that this was my 8th time attending. I have been to every session over the years, and have had brewers passes and attended all manners of other events around the festival. The festival is my least favorite part. And I am finding that my body does not process alcohol as well as I did when I was younger...and I think that the beers have in general gotten bigger and badder so that you have more alcohol to process. Lastly, I really tasted very few beers that I thought were very good, and fewer still that were something that I would buy more than once as a curiosity. This year, there were no beers that I wanted to write down and remember to look for them on my travels.
I only tried one IPA and except for the Imperial Reds, Stouts, and Porters, avoided many big beers. The offerings this year were heavy on the Belgian and Belgian hybrid styles (including american styles made with Belgian yeasts, sour beers, wood aged, and all manners of combinations thereof). I wished I liked Saisons more, there were a ton of them. None of them are beers that I could ever consider having more than one of or more than an occasional taster. I don't particularly think this is good for the industry, and does nothing good to my liver and digestive system.
Perhaps it is that the times have changed, the pendulum swung too far, or I am too old. I would celebrate a return to the core of the beer spectrum, and am advocating simple beers made astonishingly well.