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Five of the BEST American Craft Beer Festivals

By Arkaidy Wisniowska on

Photo by Igor Omilaev

Five of the BEST American Craft Beer Festivals

(And They’re Totally Worth Traveling To)

Craft beer festivals are the perfect blend of drinks, food, music, and friends. With so many happening everywhere, all the time, it would be crazy not to go to!

Local fests are easier to get to, but everyone should take a road trip on occasion, and these craft beer festivals are the perfect excuse to request a day (or two or three) off from work!

Whether you catch them this year or next, here’s our countdown of the 5 best annual craft beer festivals in the nation!

Number 5: Oregon Brewer’s Festival

  • Where: Portland, Oregon
  • When: July 22nd - July 25th

Yup, I said 33rd. That’s a lot of years of beer and community. The Oregon Brewer’s Fest is held at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland and boasts some of the best independent craft beers, ciders, and wines in the nation.

Expect to find a large variety of beer styles including, but definitely not limited to sours, hefeweizens, Belgians, pale ales, pilsners, and ciders. And while beer is great and all, you’ll also be treated to some fab live music, a meet the brewers table, demonstrations, games, and delicious food vendor options.

While over 50,000 people from all over come to the festival, it is spread out over 4 days with plenty of beer for everyone. The super cool thing about this festival is that there is no admission cost to enter, you can come in for free! However, if you want to consume beer, you just buy a $20 tasting package that comes with a mug and ten $1 tasting tokens. IF you want more than 10 samples, you can purchase as many $1 tokens as you want.

Number 4: Tailspin Ale Fest

  • Where: Louisville, Kentucky
  • When: February 16th

The self-proclaimed “Louisville Winter Warmer” features more than 250 unique beers from over 75 proud breweries. Tickets for this event tend to sell out fast so make sure you get them well ahead of time. Admission ranges from general tickets to VIP treatment, along with a designated driver discount ticket or a shuttle bus ride for only $15 each.

When you arrive, you’ll get to taste beers from all over the country, but pay special attention to Kentucky Heritage banners highlighting Kentucky’s own beer makers.

There will, of course, be lots of food vendors, a swanky cigar pavilion, and there’s even a free photo booth so you can commemorate your adventure! Lastly, it wouldn’t be a Tailspin Festival without a variety of vintage airplane displays to admire.

When it’s all said and done, a portion of the sales from the festival is donated to an organization called Dare to Care. This added up to over $10,000 in 2018.

I mean, why do you think Tailspin was ranked #7 on USA Today's “Best Beer Fest" list, and has ranked in its top 10 for 3 years running? Now ya know.

Number 3: Wild West Brew Fest

  • Where: Katy, Texas
  • When: April 18th

Named the #1 event to be at by BeerYeti, The Wild West Brew Fest is a one-of-a-kind legend. It is completely staffed and run by volunteers and get this - 100% of profits go right back to the community! The organizers take NO FEE for the event. To date, this generosity has returned over 3/4 of a million dollars back into the neighborhoods of Katy, Texas.

The Wild West Brew Fest is held in a giant 10,000+ square foot area with lots of shade and air conditioning. You’ll have your pick of 40+ taps and more than 100 craft breweries offering in excess of 600 individual brews!

Your ears will delight in plenty of live music, your taste buds will adore the food, and if you love the extras a festival like this has to offer, you’re gonna flip for the VIP/Launch party combo tickets. There are several single and combination packages available, including tickets to the Wild West Brew Fest launch party featuring secret single-batch brews only available at the pre-launch event. If you’re REALLY in love with perks, you can purchase a Gold VIP package which includes hotel rooms, autographed glasses, fresh beer, and a brewing kit in your hotel room, and oh so much more.

Okay, so, we want to go now, just sayin’…

Number 2: Great American Beer Festival

  • Where: Denver, Colorado
  • When: October 3rd-5th

The Great American Beer Festival is probably one of the most iconic and dare we say -important- beer festivals of our time. Not only is it a huge collective of amazing American brewers, it is a nationwide competition whose winners leave with a sharp badge of honor and prestige.

When you come, plan ahead early as tickets go lighting fast and also, plan to stay for more than a day! Between the brewer’s table, the lounges, the booths, the silent disco, the Jameson Caskmates beer garden, the music…you just need more time!

Aside from all aforementioned greatness, specialty and VIP tickets are generally affordable and have amazing perks. Make sure you grab tickets for PAIRED, a food and beer tasting that offers a beautiful, chef-inspired menu which pairs food offerings with various brews for a heightened level of craft beer experience.

It’s truly amazing to be among all of the competition at the GABF. If you have any shot at going this year or next, take it! You won’t regret it! We’ll bet a solid case of beer on that!

And while there are many, many kickass festivals all over the country at any given time, in the end, we have to offer up our #1 spot to a New York favorite because hey, NY is what we do!

Number 1: TAP New York Craft Beer and Food Festival

  • Where: Hunter Mountain, New York
  • When: April 25th-26th

Sure it has lofty accolades such as being the largest craft beer festival in New York and making USA Today’s list of best craft breweries at #5, but this festival - it’s just HOME. And I guess New Yorkers will know what I mean, but even those from afar are sure to feel that vibe when they get here.

The event is held yearly at the breathtaking Hunter Mountain lodge, where festivities spill from inside the lodge into the beautiful courtyards outside.

TAP Craft Beer and Food Festival is preparing to jump into it’s 23rd year of libations. Originally known as the Hudson Valley Beer and Food Festival, you can peruse and enjoy a huge selection of beer styles and expect to sample the likes of Irish stouts, strong ales, light and dark lagers, Belgians, and barrel-aged creations.

Tickets offer the traditional general and VIP admission, as well as a “designated driver” entry. You can also purchase additional sampling tokens if you should so desire. Furthermore, vendors and on-site beer sales will also be available.

If all that is not enough, TAP holds an annual craft beer competition, drawing entries from the best of the best of New York state breweries. Competition is fierce, but the camaraderie - and the brews - are always in ample supply.