Best American beer fests 2019 (craft beer festival guide)

Taking a cue from the world of music, the craft beer industry is currently in a festival frenzy. No matter where you live or the style of beer you prefer, there are a number of sudsy gatherings scheduled throughout 2020 that give enthusiasts the chance to try a variety of unfamiliar offerings, old favorites, and rare specialties in a single locale. Here’s a rundown of the nation’s most anticipated gatherings for beer lovers.

NORTHEAST

Extreme Beer Fest


Where: Boston, Mass.

When: January 30-February 1

This annual celebration of boundary-pushing brews will feature over 100 beers that utilize unusual ingredients, unconventional techniques, or some combination of the two. While thousands attended the 2019 fest, this year’s event, which takes place at Boston’s relatively cozy Cyclorama, is limited to 725 attendees for each session and (no surprise) it sold out fast. If you missed out be sure to check BeerAdvocate’s message board and be on the lookout for someone willing to part with a ticket.

Pastrytown


Where: Brooklyn, N.Y.

When: March 7

If you dream about stouts and sours loaded with fanciful ingredients, pro wrestling, and mouthwatering food stalls, then this just might be your Valhalla. Hosted by one of New York’s finest breweries, Other Half, Pastrytown will feature a veritable buffet of pastry-inspired beers from over 40 breweries—not to mention non-stop brawling from the good (and bad) folks at the New York Wrestling Connection. The addition of paired desserts is an extra sweet touch.

Festival of Farmhouse Ales


Where: Greensboro, Vt.

When: Summer (date TBA)

Hill Farmstead is one of the world’s most celebrated breweries, so it’s no surprise that their Festival of Farmhouse Ales is a tough ticket. The event takes place on Hill Farmstead’s remote yet bucolic grounds but is certainly worth the trip considering it’s the only opportunity of the year to sample such a wide variety of the brewery’s deservedly coveted saisons, stouts, IPAs and sour beers. Keep in mind a designated driver is required for entry, so if there’s ever a time to cash in a friend or family member’s I.O.U., this is it.

SOUTH

Wakefest


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WakeFest Ticket Alert: Tickets go on sale next week! The schedule is as follows… Monday, November 4th. A limited number of VIP tickets go on sale at 10:00 AM in the taproom. $375 per ticket. Limit: 2 PP (YOU MUST BE AT THE BREWERY IN PERSON IN ORDER TO PURCHASE) Tuesday, November 5th. VIP tickets go on sale online, beginning at 12:00PM EST. Go to our website for the link. $375 per ticket. Limit: 2 PP Wednesday, November 6th. General Admission tickets at early-bird pricing. Go to our website for the link. $60 per ticket. VIP tickets include: early entrance at 11AM, specialty VIP tasting glass, culinary experience from some of Miami’s top chefs, unlimited beers, special VIP area with a limited quantity of VIP-only specialty draughts, six special release bottles, and first rights to purchase additional bottles before General Admission. VIP Bottles: 5th Anniversary IWAAD V1 BA Bottle Logic Collab BA Otagoffa BA Miami Rainbows BA Eton Mess Brush Special Release Bottles for Purchase: BA Desperado $25 Cheese, Eggs, Welch’s Grape (grape brandy big poppa) $35 Apple Brandy Big Poppa $35 Vanilla Bourbon Big Poppa $35 Let My Tape Rock $35 Rum BA I Believe in a Thing Called Stout $35 Bourbon BA I Believe in a Thing Called Stout $35 BA Eton Mess Brush $30 V1 BA Bottle Logic Collab $30 V2 BA Bottle Logic Collab $30 BA Miami Rainbows $30 BA Otagoffa $30 BA Making Whoopie $30 BA Bout It Bout It $30 5th Anniversary Beer $25 V1 BA Boss Tycoon $35 V2 BA Boss Tycoon $35 General Admission tickets include: unlimited samples and a collectible 5oz acrylic sample glass. Fifth-Annual WakeFest Invitational & Anniversary Celebration Saturday, February 15, 2020 Noon-5:00PM (Last call: 4:45 PM) Mana Wynwood Beer from over 120 Independent Craft Breweries Nearly 30 of your favorite JWB beers on draught South Florida’s finest food trucks Live DJ 21+ only (valid ID required). Rain or shine. #madeindade #wakefest2020

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Where: Miami, Fla.

When: February 15

J. Wakefield is going all out for this year’s Wakefest, recruiting 120 craft breweries to participate in the festivities. Of course, don’t neglect the host brewery’s offerings, which will include nearly 30 of their own specialty beers. Attendees will also have a chance to purchase J. Wakefield bottles that will be exclusively available at the event. When you’re not busy pounding pours, pump your fists to the live DJ—this is Miami, after all.

Hunahpu’s Day


Where: Tampa, Fla.

When: March 13

Cigar City’s biggest event of the year is in honor of its most celebrated beer, a Mayan-influenced imperial stout aged on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho chiles, pasilla chiles, and cinnamon. Each ticket will include unlimited samples courtesy of 150 breweries from across the globe, food pairings from local food vendors, a commemorative sampler glass, and last, but certainly not least, bottles of Hunahpu’s.

Funk N’ Sour Fest


Where: Austin, Texas

When: Fall (date TBA)

It’s a treat to visit Jester King’s expansive farmhouse brewery grounds on any occasion but making the trip to the outskirts of Austin for the Funk N’ Sour Fest is particularly special. This is an intimate affair—only 250 tickets were released last year—that is highlighted by an expertly curated beer (specifically of the funky sour and saison varieties), wine, cider, and food experience.

MIDWEST

Dark Lord Day


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Where: Munster, Ind.

When: May 16

Dark Lord Day marks the only opportunity to bring home 3 Floyds’ iconic motor oil-thick coffee and vanilla imperial stout as well as the beer’s ultra-limited barrel-aged variants. But this isn’t merely a bottle release. The event, which attracts an arena’s worth of fans to the brewery, features popular standards and limited brews from Three Floyds, plenty of guest taps, and live performances from a bunch of metal bands that will never appear on your mother’s Spotify.

Great Taste of the Midwest


Where: Madison, Wis.

When: August 8

Billed as the second-longest-running craft beer fest in the United States, the Great Taste of the Midwest has been around for over three decades, long before the industry’s current boom. The popular summer fest, which takes place in Madison’s Olin Park, offers stunning scenery and plenty of beer from over 190 craft brewers that reside in the Midwest.

Related Reading: 10 Best Beers to Use in Beer Batter Recipes

Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers


Where: Chicago, Ill.

When: November 8-9

The Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers (or F.O.B.A.B. for those in the know) is not for the faint of heart. As its name suggests, the focus of this always-popular fundraiser and competition is a celebration of beers that spend time—often years—aging in barrels, many of which previously held spirits. Over 200 breweries will be in attendance offering pours of rare, high-octane beers that will vie for the coveted Best of Show prize.

NORTHWEST

Fremont Oktoberfest


Where: Seattle, Wash.

When: September 18-20

Celebrate Oktoberfest in September with the fine folks at Seattle’s beloved Fremont Brewing. Expect top notch sausages and other festive fare, a stein hoisting contest, “Texas chainsaw” pumpkin carving, and of course, plenty of—as the Germans call it—bier. This is one of the few beer festivals that keeps the party going until midnight, so be sure to pace yourself.

Related Reading: How to Host Your Own Oktoberfest

Great American Beer Festival


Where: Denver, Colo.

When: September 24-26

Part competition, part tasting extravaganza, the Great American Beer Festival attracts over 60,000 attendees (that’s not a typo) and 800 breweries (also not a typo) from across the country, including all the heavy-hitters as well as a number of under-the-radar gems. It’s like the Oscars and Woodstock rolled into one monumental weekend and should be on every beer lovers’ bucket list.

PACIFIC

Juicy Brews Beach Party


Where: San Pedro, Calif.

When: January 25

Beer publication Hop Culture is no stranger to putting on incredible fests, and this beach-themed bonanza should be no exception. Attendees will be able to sample specialty beers from local favorites such as Horus, Bottle Logic, and Brouwerij West (which is hosting the event), as well as a number of superstar out-of-town breweries you wouldn’t otherwise find on the the West Coast.

Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest


Where: Paso Robles, Calif.

When: May 30

Paso Robles may be a wine town but on the second-to-last day of May, beer shall reign supreme.  Acclaimed hometown brewery Firestone Walker will be hosting another installment of their wildly popular Invitational Beer Fest, which brings together several of their equally notable peers for some revelry on the Central Coast. Tickets sell out instantly, so be sure to keep any eye out for the event’s on-sale date.

Portland Craft Beer Festival


Where: Portland, Ore.

When: July 3-5

Toast our nation’s independence with some independent craft brews at this annual celebration of Portland’s dynamic beer scene. Over 70 breweries currently call Portland home—there’s a reason it’s often dubbed “the best beer city in the world”—and many of them will be setting up shop at the fest. Sunday will be all ages so bring the family and enjoy the festival’s numerous food trucks and vendors who will be selling local artisanal goods.

Related Reading: These Red, White, and Blue Beers Are Essential Fourth of July Drinking

Festival of Dankness


Where: San Diego, Calif.

When: Summer (date TBA)

San Diego Waterfront Park will become the hoppiest place on Earth once again when it plays host to Modern Times Beer’s sixth annual Festival of Dankness. Expect IPAs of the West Coast, hazy, brut, and milkshake varieties, plus plenty of other hopped-up brews from Modern Times and dozens of other breweries based locally and beyond.

Of course, you can always bring the party home—check out some of the best beer subscription services. And see some of our favorite beer-infused products (’cause it’s not just for drinking anymore).

Related Video: The Difference Between Ale and Lager



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David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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