Beer Festivals

Going to a local beer festival today. Mostly brewers from my county so while pleasant not really much of a ratings oriented event for me. But it had me thinking.

When I was new to beer geekery festivals were a big deal and something I got really excited about. That waned and by the time the pandemic hit I was going to maybe 3 a year. Since the pandemic this local festival is the only one I get to anymore. Was wondering how that lines up with the other beer dinosaurs on Ratebeer.

Are festivals still relevant to how you enjoy the hobby? Did the pandemic change your festival going behavior?

I still love a beer festival. And I’m one of very few who still updates the RB events calendar with festival attendance. Here’s my snapshot of upcoming and recently attended festivals. There are 5 local (mostly CAMRA) festivals over the summer which I’ll get to and maybe a couple more a bit further afield (but still in England). Would like to do more outside England. Already have tickets for Mikkeller 2025. And would love to do GABF sometime.

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3 or 4 a year. This year Kaapse, Carnivale Brettanomyces, Borefts and a very local festival close enough to visit with my bicycle. No further plans yet, next to my annual visit to Windischeschenbach and Bamberg.

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Ive become disillusioned with British beer festivals in the last year or two. Modern craft festivals seem to have progressed from the exciting and progressive (early IMBC) to 50 shades of haze.

See also tap takeovers. I skipped one recently which was 10 ‘hazy’ pale ales / IPAs 3.4% to 8%.

Last local CAMRA fest I went to was a new brewery tick fest, where 90% were boring, bland or simply undrinkable.

Ill have the chance to visit EU beer festivals soon, and the line-up of those I’ve seen to me seems genuinely exciting, many breweries covering a broad range of styles, experimentation with natural adjuncts rather than desert / doughnut flavours and actual barrel aging! Can’t wait.

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This year only been to MBCC so far and don’t think that will change. Many festivals feels like too much money for too little payoff, at least here in Sweden. There are some I would like to go to, such as Tallinn beerweek and Budapest, but time is not on my side for those.

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I still go. I went for a session of MBCC this year, along with Log Jammin IV in Philadelphia. There is a good chance I will go to Snallygaster again this year too. Log Jammin in Philly was sold out, so clearly still pretty popular. I do find it strange that Other Half downsized Green City and downsized then abandoned Pastrytown, as I believe they were selling out those events. Personally for me the festivals are great because they bring new beers to places and let me try and learn about new breweries. I will keep going as long as my health allows.

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Went to one since covid. Not a whole lot interesting locally out of limited options. Europeans seem to be having all the fun.

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Most years make it to 3 beer festivals - MBCC (Copenhagen) / GBBF (London) / Brewskival
(Helsingborg)

So far this year did MBCC in May, still doing Brewskival in August, and then with no GBBF this year decided to go over to Aarhus in November for what looks like a great (surprising) line up for Stepping Stones “Aarhus Together” fest.

Totally forgot about adding events to RB, so added the Aarhus one now as not there :slight_smile:

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I haven’t managed to get to any so far this year but that will change this Friday at Stratford upon Avon Beer Festival hen I have 2 to go to next weekend.
I like the atmosphere at a good festival, meeting up with old friends, trying new beers and meeting new people.

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I still enjoy them.

So far I have done 3 this year: Žmogšala, Budapest Beer Week, and Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend (+Tallinn Crap Beer Fest!). I am planning to do at least 1-2 more, probably something from this list: Hazewave, Brewskival, Pühaste Õllepidu, Riga Pours, BXL.

I have done every iteration of BXL, but this year looks less likely because hotels in Brussels are noticeable more expensive every year, and other prices have also gone up (+ I can’t visit Brussels and not drink expensive lambic lol)… That being said: BXL has always good line up of lambics, weird smaller non-hype breweries, and does have less pastry/haze infection. So I haven’t decided 100% to skip it…

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I probably go to more now than I did pre-pandemic and that is due to moving to a new place. I generally go to two fests each year:

Snallygaster - this really is just a well done fest that brings in a lot of beers (and breweries worth trying) from outside the area and is well worth the money nowadays since its no longer a ticket system.

Baltimore Brewfest - this brings in all the MD brewers that I just don’t know about, are about to open, that I cannot visit or buy regularly, and - again - well worth the cost.

In the US, the distributor fests were useless as far as selection and those seemed to have gone away. Any leftover fests are seemingly worth it. I still want to go to Great Taste one day.

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Crowds, COVID, and cost kind of killed beer fests for me.

We were already starting to go out a lot less pre-COVID and a few years of barely going out at all diminished it even further. In Ontario it used to be that there were so few new beers that festivals were a great chance to try new beers, beers that are from farther away, etc., but there are SOOO many new beers just from local breweries let alone further afield that it’s easy to find new ‘ticks’. My desire to drink mediocre beer just for the tick has plummeted as well.

My patience for crowds and noise has gotten really low post-COVID. (I know I am clearly getting old lol) I think partly chicken and egg - I don’t go out because I don’t like crowds, and I don’t like crowds because I don’t go out enough to build up the tolerance.

Festivals here now charge so much just to get in that it’s hard not to do the math and think I can typically do a pub/brewery crawl around town and try the same amount of beers for less money, so there needs to be some kind of draw other than just a bunch of beers to try to make me want to go. The biggest one TFOB is now a big concert that happens to have a beer festival, and tickets cost a fortune. (Reasonable if you are keen to see the musical acts, less so if you just want to try the beers!)

All that said, I am considering going to a local fest later this summer, still enjoy going to Cask Days festival, and was considering attending Mondial de la Biere in Montreal again after 10+ years.

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I make it to a few Beer Fest in Virginia a year. They are usually annoying because there are no beer lists in advance (most times), lucky if all the breweries are listed, and that they seldom start on time. I miss European beer fests and England in particular.

I finally made it to GABF last year and that is one I would like to make more regularly. Wish the date didn’t fluctuate so much from year to year.

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Other than GABF are there other North American festivals worth traveling for still? Mondiale in Quebec is still going, there’s a Chambly festival I have never been to. I think Victoria still does Great Canadian Beer Festival but i don’t know if I would make the trip just for that.

I have lost track of most of the big US ones.

Snallygaster is still excellent.

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It’s been on my radar since moving to VA in 2022, but I have yet to get the dates to work for me.

I’m still getting to a good few festivals each year. In Europe I’ve been to MBCC and Tallinn Beer Week this year, would like to visit other festivals in Europe in the future if time/cost/health allows.

Budapest Beer Week, Brewskival, Carnivale Brettanomyces, Wild Festival, Mash, Arrogant Sour, Billies amongst others are on the radar for consideration over the next 2-3 years.

In terms of UK festivals I’m kind of where @minutemat is tbh. Of craft beer festivals if it’s all haze I’m not interested (Hop City is not for me for this reason), and the quality/variety at CAMRA festivals often isn’t great. Saying that though, I do enjoy visiting new festivals when I get the chance. I just get a bit bored with mundane choices of best bitter, golden ale, pale ale etc. I’m always seeking out the weird & wonderful, more interesting styles

I’ve just got back from Suds with Buds festival at Roosters Brewery in Harrogate. About 20-25 breweries, nothing too exciting but it was a new festival to me and I met up with some York based friends who I’d not seen for ages. Glad I went, but probably wouldn’t do it again. The five hour drive home didn’t help!

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Pretty excited to do another Great Taste of the Midwest. Haven’t been since 2019.

GCBF has been pretty uninteresting for years. Easily the best fest on the west coast is Farmhouse Fest in Vancouver: https://www.farmhousefest.com/.

Probably not worth travelling for, but the beer (and cider) selection is always very high-quality.

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Used to attend couple of bigger ones and few smaller ones each year. I’ve cut that down to one or two festivals.
Festivals used to be only places you could score some breweries and special beers, for us in Europe it was often about chasing US beers. Very big part of my decision of attending Borefts in 2016 were Cascade and Cigar City.

However these days the distribution is amazing and the beers we were dreaming of until couple of years ago can be delivered to our doorsteps. Which is nice, but also kind of a bummer, because you don’t meet new people and make friends on your doorstep. Although it’s still not back to it’s glory days MBCC is on different level and seem like a pretty much only “general selection” festival worth traveling to. Others like Tallin, Budapest, Billie’s or Barcelona are not on that level. Cloudwater and Beavertown were close back in the day.

I love attending smaller specialized festivals, Arrogant sour festival is really special and I’ve enjoyed attending for the fourth time this year. Villagio della Birra was great as well couple of years ago.

Would like to visit Eurhop, GBBF, FOBAB, Wild Festival and Snallygaster one day. Also Culmination in Anchorage seems interesting.

Locally seems that beer festivals are pretty much dead.

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