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Top 20 US Beer Festivals for Beer Geeks

Delve into the world of beer festivals with these must-attend events that your neighbor beer nerd will likely not miss.

Top 20 US Beer Festivals for Beer Geeks

Beer geeks are a passionate bunch. Longing for the sweet lupulin-laden release of a hyped-up, hopped-up New England IPA or the sweaty leather horse blanket funk of a tequila barrel-aged wild ale, beer geeks are always in search of the rarest, tastiest and most interesting beers they can tick off their craft beer bucket list. One avenue in which beer geeks can imbibe some of the hardest-to-find beers in the world are at beer festivals.

There are a few different variants of beer festivals, such as the mega festivals, the brewery invitationals, the beer release parties and the smaller festivals with a long history of popping high-quality beers. Hangover cures in hand, we sought out the top 20 U.S. beer festivals for beer geeks across the country.

Great American Beer Festival

A rather obvious choice, but this list would be utterly incomplete without it. The preeminent beer festival in the world, the Great American Beer Festival is truly the Mecca of craft beer fans from all walks of life.

Brewers are awarded for their hard work and dedication to the craft, and then thousands of lucky festival goers are able to sample those award-winning brews in one of the biggest celebrations of beer in the world.

Occurring every September at Denver’s Colorado Convention Center, the 2017 rendition was home to a titanic 800 breweries pouring more than 3,800 beers.

Rare beers are a dime a dozen, and word travels fast about what under-the-radar releases are still available and what white whales might’ve found their way onto a brewery’s sample list.

Great American Beer Festival

Photo Courtesty Brewers Association

people at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer

Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer

A fascinating event that showcases the best of beers that have touched wood, the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer in Chicago, Illinois highlights a “what’s-what” in beer geekdom.

If there’s one thing that beer geeks love to quibble over, it’s barrel-aged beers, and FOBAB makes sure to stir everyone up by doling out style awards at this event à la the GABF – but on a much smaller scale, as these are all limited to wood-aged beers.

The scale is certainly not miniscule, however, as over 200 breweries were on hand for the 2017 rendition of this event.

Photo Courtesy ABV Chicago


AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival

While cans used to be discussed in condescending “macro beer” terms in the fledgling days of craft beer, now the aluminum jewels are almost uniformly regarded as the superior choice by beer geeks when it comes to housing craft brews.

Nowhere is that belief more apparent than at Chandler, Arizona’s AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival, which will house 250 canned beers from 90 craft breweries.

Featuring canned beer pioneers such as Oskar Blues and Sun King, some rarities from Modern Times Beer and Elevation Beer Co. will also be on hand.

offerings available at the AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival

Photo Courtesy Everfest

attendees at the Where the Wild Beers Are festival

Where the Wild Beers Are

Founded in 2008 in New York City, this celebration of all things wild, funky, sour and spontaneous in the world of craft beer has grown exponentially since its inception 10 years ago.

Though a small selection of stellar breweries will be on hand to pour some highly allocated sour/wild ales, the real star of this event is the white whale-filled bottle share that occurs one hour after the start of the event.

It’s pretty much beer geek heaven, as eventgoers are required to bring a bottle to share (if they want to participate in the bottle share) of commercially produced sour or wild beers. Rarities abound and many one-off rarities are poured by welcoming and generous craft beer fanatics.

Photo Courtesy Where The Wild Beers Are

festival of dankness glass in festivalgoer's hand

Festival of Dankness

A rather recent entrant into beer geekdom’s favorite festivals, this Modern Times-helmed festival will be in its 4th iteration this year, and with good reason.

As any hop-head will know, Modern Times Beer in San Diego, California crafts some of the finest lupulin-laced ales and they are usually couched in stunningly designed cans that will make even the most jaded beer snob’s eyes glaze over with wonder.

Another invitational festival, this one focuses on America’s favorite beer style: IPA. Hoppy beers are always a big seller, and this festival features some of the pioneering purveyors of the style, such as Russian River, Stone, Pizza Port, Other Half … and many, many more.

Photo Courtesy Twitter/Modern Times Beer



Nealtryan's picture
A festival for your list is the Hoptober freshtival in Boise Idaho. 30+ breweries with fresh hopped beer.
Michael Rhyan's picture
How do you forget the Five Boro Craft Beer Fest? Might be the best of all of these in Brooklyn in May every year.
CajunBeer's picture
Check out the 7th Annual Bayou Beer Festival, November 9, 2019 on the grounds of Southdown Plantation in Houma, Louisiana. The event features a home brewers competition, live music, great food, craft booths, and the proceeds go to help local veterans assistance programs.


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