Our session started at 5:30pm on Friday. As noted before, I told my brother (who did pay for my ticket, thanks!!) I would never go again on a Saturday session.
My brother and sister-in-law kindly picked me up at the airport and we proceeded directly to "the cousins" home (who for privacy reasons will go unnamed). They live in a nice section of Denver which is a converted Air Force base.
Their home is within walking distance to a bus line, which runs relatively quickly downtown. We caught the bus around 4pm, and on this short half hour ride I discovered that our tickets were not purchased until Monday - only 4 days ago!? On top of that the tickets were purchased via Craigslist from a guy on the East Coast!! (I had planned my visit some 3-4 weeks prior so I had thought the tickets were in hand shortly thereafter). I was a bit flummoxed at this news, however it was explained to me and proven at the site that tickets are relatively available, even though the show does sell out.
In any event, we had tickets and arrived in front of the site with maybe 25 minutes to spare. I had scoped out the food carts in advance, and we decided on an Argentinian sandwich prior to entry, a good solid choice. It would alleviate the need for food until we departed the session.
With the long line that snakes around the convention center, it took us some 20 minutes after opening to enter. On line I chatted with a guy from Houston about the micro-beer scene, and I saw a guy in front of me with a Finch's shirt (a relatively new Chicago brewer) but Finch's wasn't in attendance at this Fest. hmm. We also spoke with a volunteer who suggested we focus on one style of beer to taste. We did not heed this advice, and I'm glad we didn't.
After scanning our tickets, and turning these over to the glassware folks, we were in! All in all, a safe and secure entry to the world's biggest beer tasting, and we had a posse of four to enjoy the offerings.
(next time - We're in! What do we do now?!)