Oktoberfest is what immediately springs to mind when you think about beer festivals, but there’s loads of smaller gatherings around the world for those who can’t get enough of their favourite lager, IPA or stout. Whether you’re after an all-American beer and superbowl food fest or a smaller gathering where craft brews are the focus, there’s a beer festival for you. Here are some of the best ones to check out across the globe.
Great British Beer Festival
It makes sense that Britain would be the kind of place to have a beer-related ‘Great British’ festival to match their Great British Bake Off, The Great British Menu and various other ‘Great British’ things. All jokes aside though, it’s a fun festival to attend if you’re in London in early August. Think of a local British pub multipled by ten thousand, and you’ve pretty much got an idea of what it’s like. About 60 000 people attend the event organised by the ‘Campaign for Real Ale’ which is the UK’s premier beer event company. It’s now been going over 40 years and on top of beer there’s wine, cider and a few other spirits – plus plenty of London street food and the chance to watch live bands with a pint in your hand.
Tour de Gueuze, Belgium
If you like the format of the Franschhoek wine tram, this beer festival will be right up your alley. Instead of hosting loads of beer vendors in one place, each person buys a bus ticket. The bus goes around Belgium hitting between four to six breweries per day. It’s only every two years but it’s a great experience and a good introduction to Belgian beer for beginners. You can expect to be merrily singing in drunken chorus by the time you’ve left the last brewery. The next event is the 4-5 May 2019.
Tour de Gueuze:
Mondial de la Biere, Montreal
The French-speaking city of Montreal hosts over 100 000 beer lovers every June, where you can taste over 600 beers on site. There are guided tours, pairing workshops and even an on-site beer school for you to take advantage of where you can learn how to brew beer. Because it’s such a big event, the festival attracts beer professionals (there’s even a conference!) as well as the casual ber drinkers, and there are breweries represented from all across the world including the US, Europe and even Asia. Plus, there’s food to soak up all that beer. Poutin and beer? Yes, please!
Mondial de la biere:
Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS)
The biggest beer festival in the Southern Hemisphere takes place across three cities in May and June; Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and Auckland just across the pond in New Zealand. GABS focuses specifically on craft beer, and considering it’s only been around since 2011, it’s making serious waves in the beer festival world. Who knows, maybe this will be the Southern Hemisphere’s answer to Oktokberfest fifty years from now.
Aside from the hundreds of ‘normal’ beers on offer, GABS is famous for the Festival Beers and Ciders which are brewed specifically for the event by some of the world’s top breweries, and realeased only at GABS. It’s no small amount either; there are often around 150 to 180 festival beers and ciders on offer each year with everything from vanilla ales to traditional Weiss beers.
The location of this beer festival alone is enough to make it worth the trip. It’s held in early June at the National Building Museum in Washington DC, where the grandiose Roman-style pillars, balconies and columns all contribute to a really distinguished feel. The focus here isn’t on quantity but quality. There are around 90 small breweries and around 180 beers. Each beer is presented to attendees with a small plate of food designed to pair perfectly with the brew you’re sipping on. As you might imagine for an experience like this, tickets are quite pricey at around 135 dollars or roughly R2000. Still, as far as beer experiences go, there’s nothing quite like this one.