The new year is here, so it’s time to start planning the beer festivals you want to hit this year. There are now literally thousands of beer festivals across the country. We tried keeping a list of them all for a while, but it was nearly impossible to track them all. So, the good folks at All About Beer magazine helped us by compiling a list of some of the best beer festivals. While it looks like they compiled a pretty good list, we think they missed a couple of the biggest and best, including the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland, OR, and the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, WI.
Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival, Jan 8-10, Vail, CO – Now in its 15th year, this celebration of high-alcohol beers is held at a ski resort in the high elevation town of Vail, west of Denver, in the Rockies. Traditionally brewers bring out rarities for the attendees. Often described as a “bucket list” festival by brewers themselves.
World Beer Fesival, Columbia, SC, Jan. 17, Raleigh, NC, April 11, Cleveland, June, Durham, NC, October – A celebration of beer culture and education, the World Beer Festivals (held by All About Beer) bring together the best of international, national and local beer. Currently held in Durham, NC; Raleigh, NC;Columbia, SC; andCleveland, two more locations will be announced in early 2015.
Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival, Feb. 27-28, Grand Rapids, MI – Held outside, in the dead of winter, in a part of the country that produces unforgiving frigid weather. Only Michigan-brewed beers are offered and help with the frost almost as much as the bonfires that dot the festival grounds. Long underwear is suggested.
Boston Beer and Cheese Fest, Feb. 27-28, Boston, MA – The group known as Drink Craft Beer holds several festivals in Beantown each year, but because the two make a stellar pair we’re a fan of the beer and cheese festival. Sample lagers and ales matched with fromage from some of the finest breweries and creameries.
Fred Fest, May 3, Portland, OR – An annual celebration of respected and legendary beer writer Fred Eckhardt. Given the man’s skill at food and beer pairings, in addition to the rare beers offered from respected breweries, there is also an assortment of chocolates, cereal, cheese and candy. Plus, a chance to sing happy birthday to the great man himself.
Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest, May 30, Paso Robles, CA – Hosted by one of the more respected and award-winning breweries, this central California festival attracts breweries of equal caliber. One session only, many brewers bring special offerings, and time their beer releases, ensuring a pour for all.
Sun King Canvitational, September, Indianapolis, IN – With a growing number of breweries offering their beers in cans, this is a celebration of those aluminum cylinders. Held in a city with a growing beer culture, the fest brings together more than three dozen breweries, large and small, along with a bevy of local food trucks.
Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, October, Seattle, WA – With unrivaled popularity in the seasonal beer category, Elysian Brewing Co. in Seattle takes the style to 11 with its annual celebration of the gourd. More than 50 breweries attend, pouring their interoperations on pumpkin beers, and the host offers more than 15 recipes.
Single, Fresh, Wet & Wild Harvest Festival, October, Chico, CA – Hosted by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., this festival celebrates the annual hop harvest. In 2014, more than 50 breweries attended and poured single-, fresh-, wet- and wild-hopped beers. The price of admission includes buffet-style food offerings from the brewery’s taproom.
Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers, November, Chicago, IL – Known as FoBAB, this annual event brings together everything from the funky to boozy, all aged on wood. Bringing in brewers from around the country, this is a must for anyone who enjoys beer that once lived in a barrel.
The Festival, November, – Held each year in a new location this event is sponsored by the Shelton Brothers beer importers, The Festival is a gathering of small, artisanal beer, cider and mead makers. It’s popular with serious beer geeks because it gives them a chance to get up-close and personal with the brewers themselves.
Here is the complete article from All About Beer Magazine. If you have any other suggestions, please comment on the article and add them here.