DENVER (KDVR) — The Great American Beer Festival is back in Denver for the first time since 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel the 2020 and 2021 events. 

“It’s been difficult for everybody,” said Ann Obenchain with the Brewers Association. “Once we saw what the city was doing, we knew we had to wait until this year.”

Thousands lined up early Thursday morning outside the Colorado Convention Center, eager to get their hands on more than 2,000 different beers.

Near the front of the line was Aurora’s Scott Norris, eager to be back after the break.

“The last two and a half years have been horrible, so it’s nice to get everybody together and have a wonderful time,” said Norris.

The event is a big opportunity for breweries as well with an estimated 40,000 people expected to attend this weekend. 

“It’s those opportunities to tell people what we’re all about,” said Neil Fisher.

Fisher is the co-owner of Weldwerks Brewing in Greeley and he said the festival is their biggest marketing effort from an event perspective. 

“For us, it’s just such an important event to showcase craft beer in Colorado,” said Fisher.

Tickets for Friday and Saturday are already sold out.