Wherever you go, beer is a constant. We’ve been drinking some variation of the stuff long enough for beer to have become an intrinsic part of the human experience, so hitting a beer festival should be high on all of our bucket lists.
A great beer festival is an experiential gathering of people worshipping at the hops-malt altar while eating some seriously good food, and it shouldn’t be surprising that there are a lot of great beer festivals in the world. So we’re simply sharing the 25 best beer festivals that we deem “the best right now.” These are the picks worth buying a ticket and traveling for.
Tour de Gueuze — Belgium
This is one of the coolest beer festivals there is, full stop. First, it’s not in a single spot. Instead, each beer lover buys a bus ticket that follows a route around Belgium — hitting four to six breweries and Gueuzeries (lambic blenders) in a single day. It’s a crash course in the best Lambic and Gueuze Belgium has to offer, straight from the source of the sour beer gods. Be warned, you will be singing drinking songs between the last few stops as everyone gets, ahem, tipsy-er and tipsy-er.
The Tour de Geuze only happens once every two years. And, sadly, this year is a bye-year. Don’t worry though, the Tour is coming back next spring on the 4th and 5h of May 2019.
BeerFes Tokyo — Tokyo, Japan
On the opposite side of the spectrum from a free-wheeling bus tour of Belgium, BeerFes in Tokyo (and other cities across Japan) is more a tradeshow that allows civilians to partake in the fun.
BeerFes Tokyo runs between the 2nd and 3rd of June this year. We know it’s a cliche to say that it’s East meets West scenario. But, look, if you’ve ever wanted to compare the best the west has to offer with the beautiful beers being produced in the Far East, this is where you can do it. The selection is just wildly varied. Added bonus, you’ll be in Tokyo amongst one of the best food scenes the world has on offer. So, finding a rad izakaya to soak up all that craft beer will be half the fun.
Great Australian Beer Spectacular — Sydney and Melbourne, Australia & Auckland, NZ
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Hands up for beer : Hoping the beer gods can strike me some alignment this year. The best beer fest in the southern hemisphere is around the corner and I'm itchin'. Of the 500 beers on show at the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular for 2018, some of them will feature toasted marshmallows, snails, crickets, oysters and Tasmanian fruit preserves. Beer for three meals a day ! (Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton, Melbourne, May 18-20 and Sydney Showground, Olympic Park on June 2) Pictures: Supplied #beer #festival @gabsfestival #australia #flavour #fun #frenzy #downunder #best #fest #lifestyle #love #brewing #culture #onshow #faces #crowd #tickets #festivals #drinks
This is the biggest beer festival in the Southern Hemisphere. You also have some choice here. The Melbourne iteration is happening next month over the weekend of May 18th. The Sydney bacchanalia takes place on June 2nd. And the Auckland version happens on June 30th.
The Great Australian Beer Spectacular is a mecca for all things beer from local brewers to international juggernauts. The fests take place in huge exhibition halls which give the whole affair a sense of whimsy and wonder — there’s a damn Ferris Wheel inside the hall in Melbourne. It’s a spectacular beer and food-fueled experience, well worth the trip Down Under.
Mondial De La Bière — Montreal, Canada
A little closer to the US, in Montreal, Mondial De La Bière packs beer lovers into Canada’s foremost French city.
This year, the fest is running over the weekend of June 6th in the Palais des congrès de Montréal exhibition hall. This fest also has a definite street fair vibe to it — with sidewalk vendors, bars, and restaurants taking part along Palais des congrès Esplanade. It’s sort of the best of both worlds; an indoor exhibition hall and an outdoor fair. This fest will give you chance to brush up on all the great local beers being brewed up north while eating plenty of poutine in between.
International Berlin Beer Festival — Berlin, Germany
The Internation Berlin Beer Festival is a uniquely Berlin experience. The city blocks off a couple miles of a central city street to put on a massive street fair for all things beer, food, and music. Hundreds of breweries set up kiosks on the sidewalks, with benches and tables filling the actual street.
This year they’ll be slinging suds between the 3rd and 5th of August. The vibe is chilled out, sun-soaked, and beer-centric. Plus, where else are you going to find two miles of a city shut down just to celebrate beer for a weekend?
The Great British Beer Festival — London, UK
The Great British Beer Festival is so good that it doesn’t even have to take place over a weekend. This year the iconic beer fest runs from the 7th to 11th of August in London’s Olympic halls. There are 30 bars with hundreds of taps, games, and eats — all under one massive roof. You’ll make new friends, learn about the beauty that is English Ale, and eat plenty of savory meat pies. It’s a can’t miss for beer (and pie) lovers.
The Great Taste Of The Midwest — Madison, Wisconsin
The Midwest and locally brewed beer are inseparable. It’s like Italy and wine or Germany and, well, also beer. The Great Taste of the Midwest is a massive street fair that exalts the world of Midwest beers and food to the masses.
If leaving the US for a beer trip is a little too much to take on right now, then this may be your play to get some great beer-cation time this summer. The fest only lasts for one day, landing on Saturday the 11th of August this year. So, maybe stay an extra day to sleep off all that beer and check out more of what Madison has to offer.
Oktoberfest — Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest kicks off during the back half of September every year as a harvest festival/celebration/welcoming of October type party (it runs from September 22nd to October 7th this year). Each tent — run by local brewers — are packed with literally thousands of beer revelers, partying every single day of the three-week festival. The fairgrounds surrounding the tents are brimming with fair rides, food stalls, and all the silly, shiny fair games you’d see at any state fair in the US.
But, really, everyone is there for the raving beer hall parties. And, yes, they really are that epic. This is a beer bucket list must.
Pilsner Fest — Plzeň, Czech Republic
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Pokud jste tuto sobotu navštívili plzeňský Pilsner Fest, určitě jste si nemohli nevšimnout stanu Lokálu Pod Divadlem v nadstandartních velikostech. Ten kromě spousty usměvavého personálu, skvělého jídla a pečlivě ošetřeného piva čítal také několik ukázek ze Školy čepování Lukáše Svobody a voňavý gril našich kamarádů z #AMaso. Díky všem, kteří nás navštívili. Byli jste skvělí! #lokalcz #pilsnerfest #lukassvoboda #frantisekksana
A short jaunt from Munich, you’ll find the birthplace of pilsner. Pilsner Fest takes place in the small industrial city of Plzeň during the first Saturday of October (you can pair this with Oktoberfest for a mega-beer week!). The festival is centered around the Pilsner Urquell Brewery in the center of the city, with the party spilling out into the streets and squares.
The whole town comes out to party and Czechs and Germans flood into the city to celebrate the brilliance that is Pilsner Urquell. Added bonus, you can hop a short and very cheap to train to Prague the next morning and check out one of Europe’s coolest cities.
Dark Lord Day — Munster, IN
A beer festival about one beer? Sign us up. Dark Lord Day celebrates the yearly release of the exclusive and delicious Russian Imperial Stouts brewed by 3 Floyds Brewing.
Every year around May, thousands gather outside of Chicago to celebrate all things craft. The festival costs $180 per person, which feels really spendy in a world where that price can get you a flight to Europe these days. But you do get four bottles of Dark Lord and access to a huge beer fest with dozens of breweries represented from all over the U.S. This one’s a can’t miss if you can score tickets early enough.
Savor: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience — Washington, DC
This beer and food fest gets a big boost from being held in a killer location: the National Building Museum. The columns and balconies of the main hall make it a perfect venue for sipping amazing beer and pairing it with equally awesome food.
Savor, which takes place every June in DC, is a beer and food lover’s paradise. Brewers and chefs mingle with beer-loving gourmands as some of the best beer in the world flows from 181 taps. Tickets are still available for June 1st and 2nd this year. They’ll set you back $135 per day.
Qingdao International Beer Festival — Qingdao, China
Qingdao is kind of like China’s Munich if you will. The city is home to the massive Tsingtao Brewery and also the home to a month-long beer-fueled bacchanalia that everyone needs to get drunk at (at least once) in their lives.
Qingdao International Beer Festival lasts the bulk of August and is run from several locations across Qingdao with the main festivities centered around Golden Sands Beach in the Huangdao District. It’s a beer and food free-for-all with over 200 beers represented from China and the rest of the world. Think of this one kinda like a convention center event that turns into a massive beerfest every single day for nearly a month. It’s wild.
BXL Beer Weekend — Brussels, Belgium
Back in Belgium, BXL Beer Weekend is a must-visit-event that celebrates the greatest breweries Belgium has to offer. Added bonus: You’ll be in Brussels where delicious beer always flows freely, the fries are still fried in beef tallow, and, yes, the waffles really are that good.
BXL Beer Weekend takes place near the end of every August. This year’s fest is the weekend of the 25th and 26th to be exact. General admission is €5 (about six bucks). For €23 ($27), you get admission and 10 beer tokens to spend on great beer. It might be time to book a cheap flight to Brussels.
Great American Beer Fest — Denver, CO
Colorado is a great state to be in if you love weed, mountains, and beer. Every summer, thousands of beer lovers gather in Denver’s Colorado Convention Center to sample thousands of beers from hundreds of brewers from all over America.
Great American Beer Fest takes place September 20th-22nd this year. Tickets go on sale July 31st and will set you back between $70 and $195 depending on how much access you want and whether you’re a member of the American Homebrewers Association. Still, even a regular, $85 ticket for the public will give you access to free one-ounce pours from 3,800 taps.
Blumenau Oktoberfest — Blumenau, Brazil
Okay, this one is another bucket list beerfest that we all need to hit at least once. Just imagine a beer-loving festival mashed up with the party atmosphere of a Brazilian Carnival and you’ll get an idea of how f*cking fun this Oktoberfest is.
Blumenau Oktoberfest is taking place between October 5th and the 23rd this year. The first and last day of events are free admission and you can get in for free every other day if you’re dressed in traditional Bavarian Dirndl or Lederhosen get up. Otherwise, expect to pay 6 reals or a buck-fifty to join the party. Plus, hitting this fest will give you a great excuse to finally see the wonders of Brazil.
Holiday Ale Festival — Portland, OR
Look, there are over a dozen craft beer festivals in Portland every year. They seem to really like beer there. It’s probably due to the rain and the waning basketball team. So, we decided to go with the most whimsical and Portlandia-ish of all the beer festivals because… come on, it’s Portland. If you’re not indulging in childlike whimsy, you’re Portlanding wrong.
Holiday Ale Festival will give you chance to wear a ridiculous Christmas sweater while drinking some serious suds at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square at the end of November. Yes, there will be big beards with Christmas ornaments in them. And, yes, there will be a great selection of beers.
Bend Brewfest — Bend, OR
Did you know that Bend has the highest concentration of breweries per people in America? That high desert scrub of central Oregon is the perfect spot to enjoy the great outdoors and then relax with a great meal paired with the perfect glass of local beer.
Bend Brewfest is running this summer from August 16th to the 18th at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. There’s no admission fee but you are required to buy a $20 tasting mug that comes with five tasting tokens (each token gives you a four-ounce taste).
South Sound Craft Beer Festival — Tacoma, WA
Washington State Craft Beer runs festivals all over the state throughout the year. These fests are chances for beer lovers to get to know local brewers and for local brewers to premiere new recipes and ideas to the masses. In essence, it’s a beer geek’s wonderland that hits every corner of the state.
The South Sound Craft Beer Festival at the Tacoma Dome focuses in on 30+ plus microbrewers in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Admission is $20 ($25 at the door) and gets you a glass and six five-ounce tastes of beer. After that, beer tokens are 3 for $5. It’s a great place to mingle with brewers and chat about their beer while drinking the good stuff.
Festival of Dankness — San Diego, CA
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DOPE & DANK FAM IN THE FESTIVAL OF DANKNESS…THANKS @MODERNTIMESBEER !!! – PROPS to my brotha @craftbeerproblems for the AMAZING photo 📸 – We had such an amazing time last week. Met lots of new friends & chilled with old homies! – Looking forward to the tasting room opening in LA! – #DOPEandDANK #BlackPeopleLoveBeer #BrownPeopleLoveBeer
Modern Times in San Diego holds one of the dankest California beer festivals there is. Hops are front and center at the fest with ales from up and down California getting the spotlight in the warm San Diego sun.
Festival of Dankness generally takes place the last weekend of August at San Diego Waterfront Park. Expect tickets to go on sale around July for the all-day event.
Hunahpu’s Day — Tampa, FL
Down in Tampa, Cigar City is killing the game when it comes to great, local craft. Every year, they celebrate one of their best brews with the all-day festival devoted to local beer, food, and fun. The festival centers around the release of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout and is a bit like Dark Lord Day but with amazing Florida weather.
Hunahpu’s Day usually falls around mid-March, so you’ll have to wait until 2019 to hit this one. Tickets get you a tasting cup and unlimited two-ounce samples of an array of great beers and, of course, bottles of the delicious Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (the number of bottles you’ll get is dependent on how much you’ve paid obviously).
Classic City Brewfest — Athens, GA
Down in Athens, Georgia, you’ll find one of the best beer festivals in America tapping cask ales from the US and UK. It’s not the biggest festival in the world but the unique list of 50+ cask ales makes it essential.
Classic City Brewfest usually goes down in mid-April, so, again, get those 2019 travel plans sorted. Tickets cost $43.50 and that’ll get you a taste of every cask that’s tapped. This one is for the hardcore beer lovers and beer curious alike.
Leavenworth Oktoberfest — Leavenworth, WA
If you’re going to celebrate an Oktoberfest-like festival in the United States, you may as well do it at an Alpine village. Leavenworth was a busted mining town that turned to tourism to save itself. It worked amazingly, and now you can hit up the Bavarian-style town high up in the Cascade Mountains for all your Oktoberfest needs while in Washington State.
Leavenworth Oktoberfest has the parades, lederhosen and dirndls, gigantic pretzels, and, most importantly, huge glasses of great local and German beer flowing (seemingly) endlessly. The fest runs over three weekends from late September to October and costs $10 on Fridays and $20 on Saturdays (food and drinks are sold separately). This festival really does have all the highlights of a great Oktoberfest, right down to a huge keg tapping ceremony.
Wurstfest — New Braunfels, TX
Sausage and beer go together like rum and coke. Add in a real Texas state fair vibe mixed with an Oktoberfest grandiosity and you’ve got a can’t miss beer festival.
Wurstfest runs between November 2nd and 11th this year with plenty of beer and sausages to quell your thirst and hunger for all things Germanic. Tickets will be on sale soon, but only cover admission to the fairgrounds. Expect to pay $5-$7 for a delicious beer. Oh, and definitely sign up for a beer drinking competition or drinking game. It’ll be a blast.
The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival — Seattle, WA
Picking another great beer festival stateside was a challenge. There are just so many — from Texas to Chicago to California to the Northeast. But we went with the fest that celebrates great beer with a nice dose of Portlandia-esque Pacific Northwest whimsy.
Elysian’s The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival is really one of the most rad beer fests around. This year’s fest runs from October 5th and 6th. There are tons of pumpkin-related events, sure. Those are fun if you give into the kitsch of it all. There’s also great music, killer food, and a crazy amount of really fine local beer.
The highlight of this fest is the Elysian brewers mingling in the crowds with pitchers of beer, filling up revelers glasses the whole time. Even when it starts dumping rain (we’re talking Seattle in the fall here), the party doesn’t stop.
Annafest — Forchheim, Germany
Annafest is one of the oldest beer festivals in Germany (it’s only 30 years younger than Oktoberfest). The festival is a ten-day event in the famed Kellerwald in Franconia, Northern Bavaria. What’s the “kellerwald,” you ask? A huge forest with winding paths and 20 beer cellars — many built into the earth — in a forest full of beer gardens, fair rides, music stages, and food spots. It’s magical.
Annafest runs from July 20th to 30th this year. There’s no admission fee here. And a half-liter of beautiful Franconian lager in a steinkrug will set you back no more than €2.50 ($2.95). This is the local Bavarian beer festival for the beer lovers in the world who don’t want the throngs of millions of people at Oktoberfest but still want to have one of the most authentic experiences there is for beer in Germany. Oh, and the beer is some of the best in the world too.