Beer festival

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Great British Beer Festival, London

A beer festival is an event at which a variety of beers are available for purchase. There may be a theme, for instance beers from a particular area, or a particular brewing style such as winter ales.




Germany has an old tradition of manifold festivals which are more than beer festivals. Usually, they are not only "beer drinking events", they are fun fairs and folk festivals. Many of them are held for centuries and have their origins in parish fairs, markets and trade fairs or other historical reasons. In some German regions, especially in South West Germany fun fairs are more connected with wine than beer festivals. It is commonly said that the largest beer festival in the world is Oktoberfest in Germany, though some argue that is actually a folk festival not a beer festival.[2]

Several other smaller beer festivals are held all over Germany throughout the year. The second largest beer festival in Germany and probably in Europe, is the Cannstatter Volksfest, hosted on the Cannstatter Wasen in the Bad Canstatt district of Stuttgart. It starts one week later and is very similar in character to Oktoberfest. Its popularity increases and more and more people come from around the world to visit the festival every year.

Many places have beer festivals styled as "Oktoberfests", but taken on its own the name is generally taken to mean for the Munich event. Smaller beer festivals similar to the Oktoberfest are common in Germany and take place throughout the year in most bigger German cities. Some of them go on later into the night than the Oktoberfest.

Another large genuine Bavarian festival is the Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing. The festival is similar to Oktoberfest but it has an own history and it is not a copy of the Oktoberfest, as is the Barthelmarkt by Manching, which even dates back to Roman times. Other large festivals in Bavaria are Nürnberg Volksfeste in spring and autumn, Fürth Michaeliskirchweih (held since 12th century) and the Bergkirchweih in Erlangen, with the largest open-air beer garden in Europe.

Other beer festivals include the Hanover Schützenfest, the Freimarkt in Bremen, the Hamburger Dom, the Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest, the Cranger Funfair, the Düsseldorf Funfair. Like the Oktoberfest and the Cannstatter Volksfest, most German beer festivals are also funfairs. They are called "Volksfest" (festival for the people) and are numerous in Germany.

An emerging festival located in Berlin boasts the world's longest beer garden.[3] The International Berlin Beer Festival hosts over 2,100 different beers from 86 countries.[4]

United Kingdom[edit]

Reading Beer Festival 2009

British beer festivals focus on draught real ale, although bottled beers and ciders are often included. There is also an emphasis on variety as well as volume.

Festivals can be organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), pubs, brewers, social and sporting societies or charities. CAMRA festivals are run by volunteers under the direction of local branches and the admission fee is reduced or waived for CAMRA members. Pub festivals use professional bar staff and there is usually no entry fee.

Larger British beer festivals are usually held in large indoor venues (Kensington Olympia in the case of the GBBF). Casks of ale from different brewers, numbering in the hundreds, are placed on stillage behind rows of trestle tables. Staff serve beer directly from the cask and take payment in the form of cash or tokens purchased at the entrance. Cooling is achieved using wet sacking or blankets for evaporative cooling or though refrigerated cooling saddles and coils. Glasses are distributed at the entrance to the venue, usually for a small deposit although often included in the entrance fee, often bearing a design specific to the festival. A beer list is usually available, often indicating where in the venue the different casks will be situated. Food is usually available, and entertainment and games such as live music, pub quizzes or tombolas are often organised.

Medium-sized festival are typically held in meeting halls or marquees. These include festivals organised by local CAMRA branches, Round Tables or by other clubs and charities. They may be themed, emphasizing beers from a certain region or in a particular style, for instance, the Winter Great British Beer Festival[5] (Formerly the National Winter Ales Festival).

If a pub is well-provided with handpumps, it can put on a small festival by rotating guest beers rapidly through them. Alternatively, a temporary stillage may be set up inside the bar, or in a tent outside. Pub-based festivals usually last a weekend, (in fact, often a long weekend). The pubco Wetherpoon holds simultaneous festivals twice-yearly in all the hundreds of branch in its chain, lasting over two weeks, and using the handpump rotation method. It claims its festivals are Britain's largest. The number of different beers that can be provided in a pub festival ranges from about 15 to about 100.

In all British festivals the beer is sold in quantities of half or full pints. From 2006 the GBBF additionally served beer in "nips" (one-third of a pint), for the benefit of those who wish to sample many beers without consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.

Notable British beer festivals[edit]

Beer festivals are held across the United Kingdom. Notable ones include:

  • The Great British Beer Festival held annually in August in London is the largest beer festival in the UK organised by the Campaign for Real Ale. The "GBBF", founded in 1977, was attended by over 66,000 people in 2006 when 350,000 pints of ale were consumed over the five days. In the past it has been held at various locations but London has been its venue since 1991.
  • The CAMRA Great British Beer Festival Winter; held at various locations, currently Birmingham, is designed to showcase beer styles which may not be readily available during the summer festival. Taking place every February, it has also been celebrated in Glasgow, Burton-on-Trent, Manchester, Derby and Norwich.
  • The Farnham Beer Exhibition in Surrey, having been held every year since 1977 at the Farnham Maltings, is the longest-running beer festival to be held annually on a single site in the United Kingdom, and every year sells over 29,000 pints of real ale during its 3-day opening.
  • The Cambridge Beer Festival, held since 1974, is the longest running beer festival, although it has changed venue three times. Currently, it is held for a week each May in a large marquee erected on Jesus Green in Cambridge. It is the third largest British beer festival behind London and Peterborough. In 2007, it was attended by 30,384 visitors, who drank about 70,000 pints of beer and 194 tubs of cider and perry.[6][clarification needed]
  • The Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival, held since 1992 is the largest Real Ale Festival in the North of England. In 2011, the festival sold in excess of 85,000 half pints of beer during its four-day opening.
  • The Battersea Beer Festival, is a three-day-long annual festival held at the Battersea Arts Centre, Battersea, London, since 1991.[7]

In addition, many small festivals are organised by local CAMRA branches, pubs, clubs and charities.



Belgium has a number of beer festivals,[8] including:

  • The BAB-bierfestival, held every year in the first weekend of February in Bruges
  • The festival held every spring in Leuven (previously in Sint Niklaas and Antwerp) organized by the consumer group Zythos.
  • The Belgian Beer Weekend held in Grand-Place, Brussels, organized by the Brewer's association.
  • BXLBeerFest held in Tour & Taxis, Brussels since 2016
  • Karakterbieren Festival in Poperinge, Belgium's hop-growing capital.
  • The Beer Passion weekend held each July in Antwerp, organized by Beer Passion magazine,
  • The Christmas beer festival in Essen

Czech Republic[edit]

Costumes at the Czech Beer Festival


Festival of Good Beer in Wrocław (2011)
  • Warsaw Beer Festival - in Warszawa, held every Spring and Autumn from 2014. It continues to bring together modern Polish craft beer tastes and the hottest trends. Offering around 60 breweries, 1200 beers from which around 300 ere premiere beers, made for the festival.[11]
  • Festival of Good Beer - in Wrocław, held every year on the second weekend of June. The third largest beer festival in Europe.[12]


Israel hosts several annual beer festivals, with the largest and oldest one being the Jerusalem Beer Festival, attracting 20,000 visitors and running for 15 years,[13][14] serving 120 different kinds of beer.[15]

Other annual beer festivals in Israel take place in the following towns and cities:

Other European countries[edit]

Heikki Kähkönen, the president of the Finnish Beer Association, at Helsinki Beer Festival 2016

North America[edit]

United States[edit]

  • The Great American Beer Festival held in Denver, Colorado, started in 1982 and in 2008 had more than 46,000 people attend, with judges selecting medal winners from 2,961 beers entered by 477 breweries.[16]
  • On May 12, 2012, the Garden State BrewFest celebrated the best in local (NJ, NY & PA) brewing. The GSBF is NJ's premier outdoor beer festival. Always held Mother's Day Saturday, the GSBF II, May 11, 2013, included VIP experience incorporating beer-infused foods and highly sought after beers from around the world.
  • The largest and longest running beer festival in New York City is Brewtopia: The Great World Beer Festival.
  • The Oregon Brewers Festival has taken place each July since 1988. It is one of the largest beer festivals in the country, attracting more than 85,000 people as of 2014, to Portland.[17]
  • The Oktoberfest[18] is the oldest festival in Nashville, Tennessee, held annually since 1980 in the historic Germantown neighborhood. All major German breweries have a presence at the 3-day event. In 2015, approximately 143,000 people attended, making it the largest Fall Festival in the South.[19]
  • Philly Beer Week is a 10-day series of beer events starting on the first weekend in June in Philadelphia as a celebration of America's Best Beer-Drinking City.[20] The Hammer of glory was used to tap the ceremonial first keg at Opening Tap on March 6, 2009.
  • The Great International Beer Festival is held in Providence, Rhode Island twice annually.[21]
  • The KC Beerfest, located in Kansas City, Missouri, provides one of the Midwest's newest opportunities to try the wares of hundreds of different craft brewers from all over the world.[22]
  • The Seattle International Beer Festival is a beer festival held annually in Seattle, Washington during the month of July. The festival offers visitors a selection of 100-150 beers from some twenty countries around the world.[23]
  • The Great Arizona Beer Festival is the state's longest-running beer festival. Held in Tempe, Arizona since 1990 it features 50 breweries offering more than 200 varieties of frosty suds. The event benefits and is run by Sun Sounds of Arizona, a non-profit providing reading services to the blind. The organization also runs beer festivals in Tucson and Flagstaff.[24]
  • Brewbeque is a craft beer festival held annually in Evansville, IN. It benefits Guardianship Services of Southwestern Indiana.[25]
  • Fresh Fest, held annually in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since 2018, is the nation's first Black craft beer festival. The festival features Black-owned breweries, as well as breweries collaborating with Black artists, entrepreneurs, and businesses in Pittsburgh, the surrounding area, and beyond.[26]
  • The Oldenburg Freudenfest, located in Oldenburg, Indiana, has been held annually since 1977. The festival offers a wide variety of German food, family-friendly activities, and a wide-selection beers on tap, both domestic and imported.[27]


Beer festivals in Canada include the Great Canadian Beer Festival, which since 1993 (with help from the Victoria chapter of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)) has focused on cask ales from the Pacific Northwest. Since 2003 the festival has been held at Royal Athletic Park on the first weekend after Labour Day. The festival attracts over 60 craft breweries from across BC and Canada, with more than 8000 visitors.[28] The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is a nine-day event in Kitchener-Waterloo, which started in 1969 influenced by the original German Oktoberfest.[29] It is held every October, starting on the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving and running until the Saturday after. Toronto's Festival of Beer was first held in 1995 at Fort York in Toronto, though has been held at Exhibition Place since 2009.[30] There is also the Lauder Beer Festival which is a much smaller and more exclusive festival held in the North end of Toronto. On May 10, 2010, a group of craft beer enthusiasts launched Vancouver Craft Beer Week, the first "beer week"-type festival in Canada,[31][32] a format that was begun in Philadelphia in 2008.[33] VCBW spans nine days with events held throughout Vancouver, concluding with a three-day tasting festival. Each year, organizers commission a special VCBW Collaboration Ale[34] with partial proceeds donated to a local charity. Also in 2010, the Ontario Craft Brewers started Ontario Craft Beer Week, a week-long craft beer celebration across the province.[35] The Mondial de la Bière was founded in 1994 in Montreal and attracts around 80,000 people.[36] Edmonton International Beerfest is held each spring in Edmonton, attracting approximately 25,000 people.[37]

The Golden Tap Awards is an annual beer awards event held in Toronto. The awards are sponsored and presented by The Bar Towel, a website and forum dedicated to the discussion and promotion of Toronto's craft and microbrew beer scene.[38]

Other North American countries[edit]

  • In Mexico, in the cities of Puebla, Mexico City, Mazatlán and Tapachula Oktoberfest is celebrated by the descendants of German immigrants in these cities. The largest ones are held in Puebla and Mexico City where the German community is very important and one can hear German music and be delighted by German food and folk dresses.[39]
  • In Costa Rica, every year festivities called Fiestas de Palmares are held in Palmares to raise funds. Even though the drinking of beer is not one of the main events, and despite campaigns to reduce it, the consumption of it reaches levels that are comparable to those from international beer festivals like Oktoberfest and Spring-Break.


South America[edit]




  • In Valdivia, Chile host each summer a so-called Bierfest that organized and sponsored by Kunstmann Bier, a local beer company.
  • Llanquihue also in Chile hosts a once a year a Bierfest during summer. The main sponsor is Cerveza Cristal, Chiles largest beer brand

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "10,000 drink to second day of Beerfest Asia". The Straits Times. 18 June 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Oktoberfest Munich 2016 and 2017 when, location and map". Archived from the original on 2016-08-06. Retrieved 2016-07-31.
  3. ^ International Bier Festival Archived 2013-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Berliner-Zeitung - 'Bierfestival auf der karl marx allee begonnen'
  5. ^ "GBBF Winter | Great British Beer Festival Winter".
  6. ^ "Ale", Cambridge & District CAMRA Branch newsletter, Issue 329.
  7. ^ "24th Battersea Beer Festival". Battersea Beer Festival. CAMRAswl. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  8. ^ Top 10 Belgian Beer Festivals Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Ceski Pivni Festival". 2010-05-14. Archived from the original on April 27, 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
  10. ^ "Pilsner Festival". Archived from the original on 2010-08-06. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
  11. ^ "Warsaw Beer Festival web page". 2023-09-14.
  12. ^ "Top 5 Beer Festivals in Europe - Pissup Tours". Pissup Tours. 2015-11-24. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  13. ^ "Jerusalem Beer Festival on tap". Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  14. ^ "'Save the Kinneret, drink beer' - Arts & Culture - Jerusalem Post". Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  15. ^ "The Jerusalem Beer Festival - Time Out Magazine". Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  16. ^ Lyke, Rick (2008-10-10). "Lyke2Drink: GABF Medals: A Few States and Breweries Are Almost Sure Bets". Retrieved 2011-11-19.
  17. ^ "Oregon Brewers Festival 2008". Archived from the original on July 23, 2008.
  18. ^ "Oktoberfest". Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  19. ^ Pleasant, Joseph (October 10, 2015). "Nashville's Oktoberfest continues in Germantown". WKRN. Archived from the original on October 14, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  20. ^ 215webworks. "Philly Beer Week 2012 * June 1–10". Retrieved 2011-11-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Dardeen, Brian (2008-08-21). "The Great International Beer Festival". Archived from the original on 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
  22. ^ BOLD Internet Solutions (2011-10-22). "KC BeerFest". KC BeerFest. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
  23. ^ Kaiser, Geoff (1 July 2011). "Seattle International Beer Festival -- beer picks & details". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  24. ^ Hwang, Kellie (2012-02-28). "Great Arizona Beer Festival in Tempe". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  25. ^ "Brewbeque 2015". Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  26. ^ "Fresh Fest 1 got national attention. Fresh Fest 2 is poised to be even bigger". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
  27. ^ "Oldenburg Freudenfest". Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  28. ^ "About – The Great Canadian Beer Festival". Archived from the original on 2010-07-25. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  29. ^ "Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest - History". Archived from the original on 2011-01-02. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  30. ^ "Welcome to the Beer Festival". Archived from the original on 7 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  31. ^ Green, Rick (23 April 2010). "Why Vancouver Craft Beer Week?". B.C. Beer Blog. Rick Green.
  32. ^ Green, Rick (4 May 2010). "Leveraging Vancouver Craft Beer Week Marketing". B.C. Beer Blog. Rick Green.
  33. ^ Russell, Don. "Philly's Beer Week spawns copycats around the world". Philadelphia Media Network, Inc.
  34. ^ "VCBW Collaboration Ale".
  35. ^ "Ontario Craft Beer Week website". ONtario Craft Brewers.
  36. ^ "About us - Mondial de la bière". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  37. ^ "International Beer fest turns 10 years old". Edmonton Examiner. Archived from the original on 2018-03-10. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  38. ^ "The Bar Towel: Golden Tap Awards 2010". Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  39. ^ Yenne, Bill. Beer: The Ultimate World Tour. New York, NY, Race Point Publishing, 2014.
  40. ^ "The Liquorland New Zealand Beer Festival". Archived from the original on 2009-04-17. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
  41. ^ Press release Nov 2008
  42. ^ "Brewnz - Beervana - August - SKY STADIUM". Retrieved 2009-06-13.

External links[edit]