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Written by Lesli Gegen

This year’s Great International Beverage Festival will be returning to Mile High Station on Sunday, June 2. For Elite’s customers who haven’t had a chance to attend in years prior, it’s an incredible opportunity to connect with both suppliers and the Elite Brands team, learn about and taste the product, access special deals day-of, enjoy great food and, perhaps most importantly, have a lot of fun doing it.

The Great International Beverage Festival represents Elite’s entire portfolio – beer, wine, spirits, ciders, meads, and non-alcoholics – and it truly is international. You’ll find Belgian beers and wines from France, Italy, South Africa, and South America, represented alongside domestic suppliers from California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and more. In total, more than 60 suppliers will travel from around the world to pour for Elite’s customers this year, a record number for the event.

It’s an event Elite looks forward to every year. But don’t just take their word for it.

Jon Lundbom has been heading up the Colorado market for B. United International, a small, family-run importer based in Connecticut, since 2015. So, needless to say, he’s a seasoned pro when it comes to GIBF, having attended seven of the tradeshows over the years.

When reflecting on the benefit of attending over the years, Jon describes the unique beverage landscape in Colorado. Since the state has so many independent wine, beer and liquor stores, the customer base in the state is incredibly wide. This has made GIBF particularly useful for him over the years, as it’s a great place to connect with everyone in one spot without having to spend significant time in the car traveling around the state.

Elite’s account manager Mike Fine echoes Jon’s sentiment, noting that attending is a super-efficient and convenient option for retailers to explore new suppliers and products. Rather than setting aside a half an hour of their day to meet individually with each supplier, buyers can connect with dozens in one day.

Many tradeshows have several folks in attendance though, right? So, what makes GIBF stand out?

For starters, Jon shares that “GIBF is one of the better, if not the best, run trade shows that B. United attends. Everything runs incredibly smoothly, it’s very professional and everyone is very on top of things. It’s really an incredibly easy event to be a part of and really, really, well done.”

Unlike many similar events, every table at the Great International Beverage Festival has a representative who is close to the product on the supplier side, whether that’s the winemaker, the brewer, the salesperson, the owner or otherwise. The team is there to share their products and knowledge firsthand, as Elite truly believes there’s no one better to do so. You won’t find any volunteers pouring on their behalf and that’s something the team is really proud of.

Mike sees this as the biggest benefit for customers attending GIBF. “Hearing the stories of these brands directly from the people behind them, listening to them express their passion and what drives them to produce these products is something that no one else can replicate. Having the ability to foster a connection between the consumer retailer and the people making the products is really invaluable, so that, in turn, they can relay those stories to their customers.”

He also notes that the event is less stuffy than your traditional tradeshow. “No one is going to look down on you for asking questions. It’s just a good time with good vibes. There are a lot of trade shows that are only buying events, but Elite does a great job of balancing that with some fun mixed in.”

That fun mixed in gives the event great energy and people truly enjoy themselves. This year, Elite will be bringing in catering from Junction Food & Drink, who will offer a few delicious options to choose from, and attendees will also have the opportunity to enjoy special products from Elite’s suppliers that aren’t out for distribution. One of the booths that people run to for the latter is Jon’s with B. United.

“Since B. United works with so many breweries that have very limited, very special and unusual items, we get to connect with many of our customers the second the door opens at GIBF. They’re excited to see what we brought for the year, which is always cool,” he explained. So, there’s an insider tip – don’t miss the B. United booth! Jon expects to have some exciting seasonals, a new whisky from the Japanese portfolio they’ve been developing, and a new Grappa from Italy that’s made with Acacia honey, and more.

This year, attendees can also look forward to more spirit offerings than in years past, alongside more canned cocktails, and more non-alcoholic options. When considering what to showcase at GIBF, Elite is always looking at what’s trending, what’s selling and what their customers are making more space for in their stores. The goal is to mix it up each year to make it interesting and relevant for all.

When asked why customers should attend GIBF this year, Jon says, “it’s an opportunity to try tons of different products that they wouldn’t be able to try or have exposure to otherwise all in one place. So, if they’re looking to stay competitive in the market, especially with how things are changing in Colorado, it’s a great chance to find new and exciting things to differentiate themselves and up their games!”

At the end of the day, the Great International Beverage Festival is really a way for Elite to show appreciation to their customers, introduce and reconnect with their amazing suppliers and spend quality time together. So, come, relax and enjoy it with them!

4780 Holly Street, Denver, CO 80216
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