So many beer festivals. So many beers. Whats an aspiring beer company to do? Do you attend/pour at many or just a few? Local or regional or national? Those deeper questions will be for another deep dive article. But for now these are 5 really excellent beer festivals you should attend or better yet pour at.
Festival of Dankness
San Diego, August
If you love IPAs then you’ve got to check out Modern Times’ Festival of Dankness. Held in San Diego’s Waterfront Park, the event features beers from a number of big names in the IPA world including Russian River, Pizza Port, and Stone.
Festival of Dankness is worthy of your travel time if only for how close you’ll be to a number of amazing breweries while you’re in Southern California. The San Diego area is crawling with amazing breweries that are worth checking out. That means you can turn a trip to a beer festival into a true beer-cation. Also, it’s Southern California, so you’ve got the beach.
EXTREME Beer Fest
Boston, Massachusetts, February 1-2, 2019
The team at BeerAdvocate organizes Boston’s Extreme Beer Fest. The two-day affair is held at the Seaport World Trade Center and boasts more than 400 beers from more than 120 different breweries. Due to the popularity of the event, attendees buy tickets for a three-and-a-half-hour tasting session. Only independent craft brewers are invited to pour. VIP passes get you access to early entry, a private lounge and a swag bag of treats. But the real reason to come to Extreme Beer Fest is the beer, including insane exclusives like Dogfish Head’s Possibly the Next Top Rated Beer on BeerAdvocate, a beer described as a Double New England Maple Pastry Black Coffee Milkshake IPA. Yep, sounds extreme.
Toronado Barleywine Festival
San Francisco, November
When I moved to San Francisco in 2012 I looked at an apartment right across the street from Toronado the day after the barleywine festival. Lucky for me there were still a ton of great barleywines still on tap when I popped in for a beer after my showing.
The festival was traditionally held during San Francisco Beer Week in February, but now that the week has started to get more popular (last year I met more people from out of state than I did locals at events), it has moved to later in the year so it’s not (more) overrun. If you’re a barleywine fan then it’s a must-do!
Washington, D.C., May 17, 2019
Savor is a smaller event than others on this list, but by no means less impressive. Ninety breweries participate in this food and beer experience. Instead of simply refilling a tasting cup over and over, at Savor, you get to sample the beer along with a perfectly paired small plate. This makes it a double treat for beer fans and foodies alike. This is also a premiere venue to meet brewery owners and head brewers, and get insider info on your favorite beers.
Firestone Walker Invitational
Paso Robles, June
If you love discovering new beer, then the Firestone Walker Invitational is the beer festival for you. Held in Paso Robles, the event features just 50 different breweries, all hand-picked by Firestone Walker to attend.
“It’s been clear for years to just about anyone who attended the Paso Robles, CA event that beyond the oppressive heat, it’s pretty much the ideal festival,” our Jim Vorel said after the 2018 festival. “By cutting out the dross and streamlining the concept to include only those 50-some breweries that the folks at Firestone Walker think are among the best in the world, you’re left with an ironclad guarantee of quality.”