When the craft beer movement erupted, it spurred a tidal wave that’s reached practically every corner of the globe (just see all the great undiscovered craft beers from around the world and the 50 best craft offerings in the U.S.). Its impact has been far-reaching, creating a thirst among consumers for specialty brews. Sure, a session beer or trusty lager is great when you’re manning the grill or staked out at the beach. But there’s an urgency for more sublime varieties. People want chocolatey milk stouts, smooth and sweet from lactose; sour ales that brim with brightness and make your mouth pucker; and that hoppy bitterness only an IPA can deliver. Because of this, beer festivals have become ubiquitous.
It seems every weekend you can find one in your local area. As with anything else, though, quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality, and growing numbers can actually be in direct contradiction to preserving a beer festival’s primary goals: trying amazing beer and having fun, if you needed reminding.
Many events involve a costly ticket that grants its holder access to two or three hours, during which you might feel rushed to binge in order to try enough beer to make the ticket price worth it. You end up darting from long line to long line—often slamming four-ounce pours of triple IPAs at a pace that eradicates the possibility of enjoying the aromas and flavors.
For this reason, we’re highlighting 10 beer festivals that preserve a sort of holiness around craft beer. They’re the ones preferred by brewers and beer writers, because they’re masterfully curated and often offer great food, music, and other perks.
These are the events worth traveling for, so mark your calendars now.