The Best Beer Festivals in USA
Beer festivals are fun to attend and draw hundreds of people around the world to these beer-centered events. If you are a beer lover and happen to be in the United States, you are surely going to find so many chances to be part of some of the world’s best beer festivals. These festivals vary in types and the way they are organized, but they are all full of excitement and opportunities to taste new varieties. Some of these festivals will have more than 130 breweries to sample and enjoy – and you will have so much more to eat while drinking your favorite beer.
If you’re planning to attend one of those beer fests, here are some great options for you to consider.
1. Great American Beer Festival
You must have heard of it. The Great American Beer Festival is the most popular beer festival that brings together beer fans from across the world. So no list would be complete without naming this one! The festival is held at Denver’s Colorado Convention Center during September, and the 2017 event was a majestic show with 800 breweries splashing out over 3800 beers. Some were rare varieties from different parts of the world and found their way onto the list of best beers.
Most brewers attend the Great American Beer Festival to win a couple of awards. The most important being from the Brewer’s Association judges that comes with a medal and industry cache. Others are invaluable towards earning more name and fame. As such, there is no people’s choice award in this festival – well at least officially. But if a beer maker has unique blends and grabs the attention of attendees, they do get recognition and the word quickly spreads out from the Denver Convention Center.
Gaining attention is no easy task though. It takes a good effort as at the GABF 2018 there were more than 800 brewers, pouring more than 4000 beers. You can think of the hall being 8 times the size of a football field and yeah, the beer lovers were spread across its length and breadth, exploring different beers and being passionate about finding the best one.
2. Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers, Chicago, IL
The FoBAB is one of the most prestigious and also the biggest barrel-aged festival in the USA. This event is organized and hosted once a year by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild (ICBG). FoBAB seeks the presence of breweries from all over the world to demonstrate their most unique creations of wood and barrel-aged brews. The beer, cider, mead, and perry that are featured in the event are aged in a wooden barrel or have come in contact with wood during aging. The breweries compete for the topmost honor in the National Barrel-Aged Beer Competition.
3. Where the Wild Beers Are
After it was founded in 2008 in New York City, this event has been growing in popularity. This event has it all. The fun, frolic, and celebration of wild, sour, trendy, impulsive craft beer. The breweries are carefully chosen and enter some tasteful sour/wild ales. This sharing thing feels like heaven and many of the event participants bring their own bottles of commercially produced sour or wild beer to share. This gives everyone a taste of many rare varieties and demonstrates the generosity of the craft beer fans.
4. Festival of Dark Arts
Called the “carnival of stout”, this ‘dark’ event is a celebration of dark beers and is hosted by Fort George Brewery in Astoria, Oregon. The whole block of the brewery is shut down for the festivities and includes everything from tattoo artists, belly dancers, tarot card readers, blacksmiths and glassblowers to entertain you and make you feel on top of the world. They surely show their talent and it blows your mind!
The beer is unique and there’s always a very good selection of stouts, based on thick Imperial Stouts with mammoth ABV bills bringing out strong beer flavors and mesmerizing beer lovers with an aroma that instantly leaves them wanting to taste each and every one. The host enjoys 16 stout options, however, some lucky dark beer enthusiasts get to taste Imperial Stout rarities from Deschutes, Fremont, Gigantic, Ecliptic, Great Notion and AleSmith.
5. Juicy Brews
This event is relatively new and celebrates hazy beers packed with flavor. The New England-style hazy IPAs and unfiltered sour beers are two of the favorite beers of this category. Juicy Brews offers some of the finest hazy offerings from Hoof Hearted, Marz Community, Triple Crossing, Jackie O’s and many others. The event location changes every time and it has been conducted in Pittsburgh, NYC, Ohio and Tucson, Arizona. The Columbus, Ohio festival is happening February 25th and a Tucson, Arizona Juicy Brews fest is going to occur in March.
6. Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival
This is one of the sophisticated events happening in Breckenridge, Colorado in the month of January. This event highlights some of the most innovative advancements craft breweries with Belgian-style beers and hefty Barleywines. In 2018, this event had around 146 breweries from all over the world in the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center offering a beautiful panorama of the skies along with some fine-tasting beer.
7. Toronado Barleywine Festival
This sparkling Barleywine-themed festival has been hosted by San Francisco’s Toronado Pub for over 20 years now. There was a rumor in 2016 that the event would close because of the sudden growth of San Francisco beer week but was shut down by a spectacular show in September the same year making this festival a more prominent and respected Barleywine-focused fest. After this incident, the fest was back with a bang and found its place back in the craft beer event calendar hopefully for good!
8. The Culmination Festival
This one of the kinds and the best festival so far, is hosted by Anchorage Brewing Co. in Alaska and not everyone gets a ticket – only 300 lucky holders get to this invitational beer fest. Anchorage Brewing Company owner/brewer, Gabe Fletcher makes sure only the freshest and finest products are presented. He goes the extra mile to get all the freshest beers. This is unlike most other local festivals in Alaska which source only what’s readily available in the market.
9. The Festival, Anywhere, USA
This is an annual festival and the show is put up by Shelton Brothers, a U.S. beer importer, and distributor. The inaugural event was on June 23 – 24th 2012 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Based on multiple reviews, this was regarded as one of the best beer festivals. Here, the brewers from different parts of the world set up their stalls and served beers brewed by them, unlike other festivals where volunteers are used.
The inaugural festival itself had over 70 prominent breweries from Belgium, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Finland, Canada, and the U.S. Beer lovers got a chance to taste over 500 variety of beers spread over three sessions including Westvleteren 12 – the first time it was ever served at a beer festival in the U.S. This festival is conducted in a different city every year.
10. Ebenezer’s Belgian Beer Festival
This festival looks more like an event and is hosted by Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine. It has grown tremendously over 14 years. The celebration is now considered as one of the best in the world. The concept is centered around Belgium beer. The owners bring out their best Belgian beer and make a point to provide a week full of awesome beers.
The Saturday event is known as ‘Night of Great Thirst’, is based on the original ‘Night of Great Thirst’ festival in Ebenezer, which is an exquisite beer festival in Belgium focusing on lambics, gueuzes and other naturally fermented brews. Visitors to Ebenezers event are requested to stay for the weekend so they can be fully hands-on. There are about 35 rare Belgian drafts, changing daily, imported Belgian cheeses, chocolate and traditional Belgian meals throughout the week.
Some Other Great Festivals Around the World
There is no denying the fact that you will find some of the finest beer festivals in the US, but it is also true that you can enjoy the finest breweries in other parts of the world too. For instance:
1. Tour de Gueuze, Belgium
One of the most awesome and refreshing beer festivals, this takes the beer lover on a tour of Belgium which keeps them on their toes! The beer lover gets to see about four to six breweries and Gueuzeries (lambic blenders) in a single day on a bus tour. It is like a crash course on the best Lambic and Gueuze Belgium has to offer, right from the source of the sour beer gods. This festival happens only once in two years but the wait is worthwhile. The next tour will be on the 4th and 5th May 2019.
2. BeerFes Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Another tour festival that’s a fun ride for the beer lovers, is more of a tradeshow and is conducted in major cities of Japan including Tokyo. The BeerFes tour runs between the 2nd and 3rd of June. The collection is varied and you will be surprised by the variety and spread. It is a great experience for the beer lovers to be part of this festival.
3. Mondial De La Bière, Montréal, Canada
This festival in Montréal gets beer lovers to the French city of Canada! This year’s festival will be on the weekend of June 6th in the Palais des Congrès de Montréal exhibition hall. The fest has a different air to it and beer lovers are in for a great variety – sidewalk vendors, bars, restaurants on one hand and the Palais des Congrès Esplanade on the other. The place offers best of both indoor and outdoor fairs. You can get the taste of all the tasty local beers along with a lot of poutine.
4. The Great British Beer Festival, London UK
This exemplary festival is one of its kind and runs from 7th to 11th of August in London’s Olympic hall this year. There are about 30 bars full of fun, eateries, games, taps – you name it and it is there! Everything in one place means a lot of new friends, a good get together learning about the super cool English Ale and enjoy savory meat pies to your heart’s content. Tempting eh? It’s certainly a must-see for any beer lover!
The fact of the matter is that if you love beer and want to join a community connected through food and beverage, you should certainly arrange a visit to one of these beer festivals in the USA. So, remember the dates and know when to attend.