Chris Guest's picture

World's Top 20 Beer Festivals

Whether you’re looking for a reason to travel or if you just want to add another event to your itinerary, here’s a sampler of the finest beer festivals in the U.S. and around the globe.
Belgian Beer Weekend
Belgian Beer Weekend (Photo credit: beerjunkets.com)

January


Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival – What better way to make Alaskan winters a little more warm and inviting than with immense imperial IPAs and beastly barleywines? This Anchorage event is the jewel of Alaska Beer Week and features some of the heftiest regional brews available in a brewpub-filled city with easily navigable streets.


February


Bruges Beer Festival – Dubbed “the Mecca for everything worthwhile in the Belgian beer world” on its website, this early-year event features every imaginable Belgian style with ABVs ranging from the pedestrian (1.8 percent for a tiny brown ale) to the gargantuan (16.5 percent for an oak-aged barleywine). A beautiful beer-centric city and one of the largest exhibition halls in Belgium make this festival a must-visit.


April


Dark Lord Day – Bacchanalian revelry, metal music and a deep appreciation for craft beer are the orders of the day at this event on Chicago’s northern border. Hosted by Three Floyds Brewery – creators of the event’s namesake, the inimitable Dark Lord Imperial Stout – this carnivalesque celebration is the only day of the year Dark Lord is released to the public.


May


Savor: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience – Leave the partisanship behind when you visit this stylish Washington D.C. event at the National Building Museum. The Brewers Association provides a glorious cornucopia of beer and food pairings intended to bring craft beer into the limelight as the premier partner to elegant cuisine.

Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular – Australia is known for its plethora of summer beer festivals, and this large-scale event might be the best of the bunch. With over 250 beers (120 of which are unique to this event) from 150 breweries around the globe, Australian craft beer lovers flock to this cleverly named two-day brew party in Sydney.

Keyaki Hiroba Spring Beer Festival – While the various versions of the Great Japan Beer Festival grab headlines for their size and scale, this under-the-radar festival in Saitama features some of the finest Japanese microbrews as well as mainstream Japanese juggernauts like Kirin Ichiban and Sapporo.


June


Mondial de la Bière – Canada’s biggest beer festival features over 600 beers housed in the largest auditorium in Montreal. Engaging people, a beautiful city and over 100,000 beer lovers make this festival a terrific reason for American craft beer connoisseurs to traverse the northern border.    

Where The Wild Beers Are – An unusual event whereself-professed “fans of the funk” get together and share their favorite sour and wild ales with other like-minded lambic-heads. Did I mention that no beer is provided on tap? That’s right, this event is strictly B.Y.O.B., but that doesn’t stop hundreds of devotees from attending two separate events (June and October) in New York and Minneapolis.

Great Taste of the Midwest – The idyllic Wisconsin locales next to Madison’s Lake Monona imbue this event with a carefree, summery vibe. Special releases of highly sought-after brews occur throughout the day and usually generate a big buzz. Madison features one of the best farmers’ markets in the country, which is stocked with artisanal cheeses perfect for beer pairing.    


August


Great British Beer Festival – 60,000 patrons milling about and swilling stouts (amongst other delectable creations) spill over into two London venues, the massive Olympia Grand and the smaller but still impressive Olympia National. Come join the throng at the largest beer festival in England, which features beers from over 100 breweries, be they famed British beer institutions or international powerhouses.      

Qingdao International Beer Festival – Asia’s largest beer festival, billed on its website as “Asia’s Oktoberfest,” is set in the sprawling Century Plaza of the biggest beer-producing region in China, Qingdao. This 16-day celebration features over 200 beers from both proud Chinese brewmasters and international brewers. Lagers rule and so does big beer (as in macro). Hundreds of events occur during the festival, all presented with the grand theatricality typical of the host regime, though the opening and closing ceremonies are celebrated with the most fanfare and opulence.

Belgian Beer Weekend – This weekend in Brussels is sure to help sprout love of Belgian beers for the skeptical. Trappist ales, artisan saisons and the most highly regarded Belgian breweries are on tap in Brussel’s La Grande-Place. A picturesque setting, the Grand Place is flanked by stunning gothic architecture and near numerous taprooms and pubs.      


September


Slunce ve Skle –This event, whose name translates to Sun in a Glass, features over 150 beers on tap, numerous local musical acts and theatrical dance performances. As with most beer festivals, security is present throughout the event, but at Sun in a Glass they carry around breathalyzers that serve a fairly unique purpose: any attendee who seems a little too tipsy will get a sticker displaying their blood alcohol content slapped on their forehead in order to warn bartenders that this patron has had enough!

Oktoberfest – This is the big one. The world’s largest celebration of beer could certainly merit an entire article by itself, but as it is, this sixteen-day beer and bratwurst bonanza starting the last week of September is resplendent with revelers, scenic views and enough frothy libations to keep any beer fan happy. Six million people annually couldn’t be wrong.


October


Pilsner Fest – Celebrate one of the world’s most popular beer styles, pilsner, in its birthplace of Pilsen, Czech Republic. Located near the Pilsner Urquell brewery, where the first-ever batch of pilsner was brewed in 1842, tours are available culminating in a rare sampling of Pilsner Urquell tapped straight from oak lager barrels.      

Great American Beer Fest – America’s answer to Oktoberfest. Set in one of the best beer cities in America, this sprawling celebration of suds features a staggering number of brews from every state. Perhaps the highlight of the event is when Brewers Association President Charlie Papazian reveals the winners of breweries and brewpubs of the year, and all the mashing, milling and trub-sparging of some of America’s best craft breweries is rewarded.

Great Pumpkin Beer Fest – Despite AB InBev’s disparaging of “pumpkin peach ales,” one of its acquisitions, Elysian Brewing Company, puts on a terrific celebration of the large orange gourd every year. Featuring over 80 of the most flavorful pumpkin brews from around the country (some exclusive to this event), this two-day event is a great way to get your Halloween festivities started a little early.

Blumenau Oktoberfest – When you hear “Oktoberfest,” your thoughts probably stray to the famed, 200-year-old beer extravaganza in Munich, Germany. But in the Brazilian city of Blumenau, founded by a German physician in 1850, the spirit of camaraderie and love of beer is on full display at “the biggest Oktoberfest in the Americas.” With the town’s beautiful European-inspired architecture and city design as a backdrop, this festival drew over 600,000 revelers in its most recent incarnation.    


November


Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer – This festival, known as FOBAB, specializes in brews that have “knocked on wood.” Any brew that has come into contact with a barrel – be it a burly bourbon barrel-aged stout or a willowy wine barrel-aged saison – is welcomed at this Chicago event.


December


Holiday Ale Festival – A four-day event in the heart of winter, this Portland, Oregon festival is a terrific early Christmas gift for all beer lovers. Brewed by some of the best West Coast breweries, there are 50 one-of-a-kind winter seasonals nestled like shiny new gifts underneath a gigantic Christmas tree.  

Editorial eNewsletters - Daily

Delivered straight to your inbox!

mail_art-01.pngSelect the days of the week and frequency per month. Industry News, Official Beer Review and The Magazine: Daily Stories.

Sign Up Here

Advertisement

Advertisement