Beer Festivals are what got me 100% into the craft beer market and changed me from a solely Wine Guy to one that now chose my trips away on my beer experiences or adventures.
Further Reading of Articles on certain Beer festivals
So what does go on at a beer festival?
The idea behind the beer festivals stems from craft breweries who want to showcase their beers to a new audience that can enjoy themselves and appreciate beer in a conducive and relaxed atmosphere. It is a chance for brewer to display beers that may be new products, or existing popular styles or brands that suit the festival theme or season.
The cost of admission is sometimes enough to allow you to drink as many beers for free, but sometimes there is a state law requiring payment to be made for a sample of beer, so either a token or coupon has to be exchanged with the beer server. Festivals have to abide by the laws of not serving intoxicated people and following laws for liquor distribution which though sometimes not adhered overall they are.
In the summer months the beer festivals feature more are lager, wit beers, Belgium styles, and IPA’s. In the winter months there are much larger beers in alcohol volume and darker in color due to being cooler and people wanting a beer to warm them up.
A Few Winter Festivals
Without doubt on of the most exciting times for events, due to special beer releases for the winter months. Some festivals have greater seasonal releases than others.
Denver – Great American Beer Festival (Sept or Oct)
- This event sells out every year and I was at a festival in Seattle when a brewer told me about this event, and you will be one of 27,000 beer loving drinking lovers at this event in Denver. Thursday Night is often viewed as the best night of this event.
Portland – Holiday Ale Festival (Dec)
- Held in an outdoor area of Portland Oregon, with the covered square sheltering from a very cool evening. It was almost too much good beer in one place as all brewers bring out their special release beers here. Not for beginners.
Seattle – Winter Festival (Dec)
- Held on the same weekend as the Holiday Festival in Portland and seeing as its only 2 hours drive between the cities one can and should do both.
San Francisco – San Fran Beer Week (Feb)
- This city was one of the originators of Beer Week, after Philly Beer Week, and now it coincides with the annual launch of Pliny the Younger from Russian River.
Boston – Extreme Beer Festival - (Feb)
Montreal – Le Mondial de la bière/Beer Festival – June
Portland – Oregon Brewers Festival - (Jul)
Syracuse – Empire State Brewers Fest – (July)
An Earlier piece on US Beer festivals Year of Festivals
Without listing every single festival on the calendar for West/East Coast of the US, these ones listed are up there in the high quality organised and run stakes. If you can only do 2-3 festivals a year these are some of the ones in your consideration list.
Since I got into beer there are many localised Beer Weeks that are setup in Cities that have local brewers organised with restaurants and have beer dinners, events and special tastings.