Last Updated on August 7, 2023
Is there anything better than a cold, foamy brew after a hard day of work? Yes, actually – a cold, foamy brew at a beer festival.
If you’re a beer lover but have never been to a beer festival before, now is the perfect time to plan for one. Beer festivals are more popular than ever and are now celebrated in various parts of the world, all throughout the year.
From traditional Oktoberfest – which, fun fact, has been celebrated for over 200 years! – to quirky craft beer celebrations in small towns, there’s something for everyone out there. Here are some of the world’s best festivals and events for beer lovers.
Did you know that the first Oktoberfest began in 1810? That’s right – the granddaddy of beer festivals has been celebrated for over two centuries!
What started as a celebration of the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Saxon Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, evolved into a beer extravaganza that is enjoyed by millions of visitors every year.
While no longer a royal affair, the German beer festival stays true to its Bavarian roots with its Bavarian décor and traditional, mouth-watering foods like sausages, pretzels, and roasted chicken.
And what about the main attraction, beer? All beer served at Oktoberfest comes from Munich’s six major breweries, so you know you’re getting the real deal.
Augustiner is Munich’s oldest brewery, and its beer is strong (6% ABV) but incredibly clean and crisp. Hacker-Pschorr is another Munich brewery whose brews are sold at Oktoberfest (now part of Paulaner), and its beer is a complex amalgamation of flavors: sweet, bitter, slightly malty, and lightly hoppy.
Lowenbrau, one of Germany’s oldest and most popular breweries, needs no introduction – it’s a favorite of folks who love crisp, clean, and light-bodied brews. Paulaner is your typically delicious sweet lager, while Spaten is crisp and bubbly, with a mild biscuit malt flavor.
Finally, there is Hofbrauhaus-Munchen, a well-rounded, medium-bodied beer with pleasant malt notes.
Fun fact: in 2011, 6.9 million beer enthusiasts visited Oktoberfest, consuming a record 7.5 million liters of beer!
Czech Beer Festival, Czech Republic
The Czech Republic, which could be dubbed the heart of the beer culture itself, is home to the world-renowned Czech Beer Festival in Prague. With a brewing tradition that dates back centuries, the Czechs take their beer seriously, and this festival is a testament to their dedication.
Held in Letná Park, the Czech Beer Festival offers a delightful blend of tradition and modernity. This beer-focused event pays homage to the country’s rich brewing heritage, where beer is not just a beverage but an integral part of the national identity. With over 70 brands of Czech beer on offer, including famous pilsners and lesser-known regional specialties, you’ll be treated to an authentic Czech beer experience.
And then there’s the finger-licking traditional Czech cuisine: hearty goulash, crispy pork knuckles, freshly baked goods… the food offerings are designed to complement the rich flavors of the beers for maximum enjoyment. Of course, there’s also live music, various performances, and traditional dances for an extra layer of excitement.
Great British Beer Festival, UK
If you thought only the Germans and Czechs had great beer festivals, think again! The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF), also known as “the biggest pub in the world,” is England’s largest beer event that offers hundreds of real ales.
Organized by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), this festival has been a staple of the British beer scene since 1977. Set in the iconic Olympia London, this festival can be enjoyed in early August every year. As England’s biggest beer-focused event, it features an astounding collection of over 600 real ales, from traditional cask ales to contemporary craft beers.
But the GBBF is not just about the beer – it’s a celebration of British pub culture and a chance to connect with fellow beer enthusiasts. In addition to delicious brews, you can enjoy a variety of street food and snacks. There’s also live music, tutored tastings, and traditional pub games, guaranteeing a great time for anyone who visits.
If you’ve missed this year’s GBBF, there’s always CAMRA’s Winter Ales Festival, which is held in January.
Brussels Beer Weekend, Belgium
Brussels is another European city renowned for its beer culture and centuries-old brewing tradition. It’s only natural they’d have their own grand beer festival!
The Brussels Beer Weekend is a three-day celebration that takes you on a journey through the city’s beer history and vibrant modern scene. Set against the backdrop of the stunning Grand Place, the festival features an impressive array of over 500 Belgian beers from over 50 breweries, each with its own unique character and story.
You’ll have the opportunity to savor traditional Trappist ales, tangy lambics, and hearty saisons, all while immersing yourself in the city’s wonderful architecture and atmosphere.
Great American Beer Festival, USA
You didn’t think we’d end this list of great beer festivals without mentioning the Great American Beer Festival, did you?
Founded in 1982, this festival is now one of the largest beer events in the world. Held in the Colorado Convention Center, it boasts an incredible lineup of over 4,000 different beers from more than 800 American breweries. From West Coast IPAs to East Coast sours, this festival offers a wide snapshot of the diverse American craft beer scene.
One of the festival’s highlights is the judging competition, where beers are rigorously evaluated by a panel of experts. Breweries compete for medals in various categories, showcasing the immense skill and creativity that go into crafting each brew.
Let’s not forget the food – the festival’s Farm to Table Pavilion (now known as Paired) offers a delectable array of beer-friendly dishes crafted by some of the country’s top chefs. From savory bites to sweet treats, the culinary offerings elevate the beer-tasting experience to new heights.
Here’s How to Start Your Own Brewery
If the world of beer is calling you and are dreaming of becoming a part of it beyond just sipping brews at festivals, why not consider starting your own brewery? It could be a fantastic way to turn your passion for beer into a thriving business.
Of course, opening up a brewery is no easy task. First of all, it’s a tough field to break into as the competition is fierce. Secondly, it requires a big investment and securing the necessary permits and licenses can be a bit tricky. Of course, you also have to hire and manage the right people, think about your branding and marketing, balance your paperwork, and more. And that’s all on top of brewing good beer.
Luckily, there are now software solutions that can help you with the business side of managing a brewery, even if you’re a complete beginner. GetOllie, for example, is an easy-to-use management system built by brewers for brewers that can help you manage most of your operations: from inventory management to order fulfillment to sales reporting and more.
When it comes to the fun part – crafting your own beer recipes – it’s a good idea to start from tried and true basics and slowly build your way up to more experimental recipes. Seek feedback from friends, family, and fellow beer enthusiasts to refine your recipes until you achieve that perfect flavor profile.