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PHOTOS: The people of Great American Beer Festival 2013

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DENVER — The busiest Great American Beer Festival in history drained its final public session Saturday night, bringing out thousands of the costumed hop fanatics the event has been instrumental in breeding over the past quarter-century.

With ticket troubles and frustrated brewers making headlines months before GABF 2013 even opened, it was easy to forget that the festival is the literal promised land for beer makers and drinkers around the world. Saturday’s last hurrah served as a good reminder — thousands of people of various ages and backgrounds spent the better part of five hours beaming and joking around with total strangers.

With GABF expected to get much bigger in 2015, some local hopsters are already lamenting the loss of a homestyle brewfest. But once you’re actually on the show floor, it’s easy to see GABF for what it is — another great thing about Colorado that more and more people want to experience.

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