The gathering Friday morning at Crazy Mountain Brewing Co., coming six days before the kickoff of the Great American Beer Festival, gave flesh to a storyline that has been building steadily in recent years.

That story centers around the $35.4 million economic impact of the nation’s largest gathering of beer lovers that extends far beyond the actual three days of the event.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, surrounded by about 10 local brewers, launched the ninth annual Denver Beer Fest — a nine-day celebration of the world’s favorite hopped beverage that includes 266 events ranging from beer dinners, to special tappings, to beer yoga.

One of those events happens to be the GABF, which attracts 60,000 visitors over four public sessions at the Colorado Convention Center from Oct. 5-7. But the profusion of other fermented-beverage follies speaks even louder volumes about the maturation of the festival since the original 1982 gathering in Boulder.

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