Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right The 2016 U.S. beer festival calendar

The 2016 U.S. beer festival calendar

Coast to coast, there’s a beer festival or beer event for you in our guide to the best beer festivals in America

DC Beer Week
Photograph: Courtesy DC Beer Week
By Bill DeBaun |
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With the surge in national affection for craft beer has come a surge in festivals celebrating the stuff. There’s a craft beer festival for seemingly every type of fan these days: festivals devoted to craft breweries pushing boundaries; festivals devoted to pairing bacon with beer; and festivals devoted to putting good beer next to good music. Then there are America's mammoth citywide festivals, where the best brewers in New York, L.A., Chicago and beyond stand keg-by-key for weeklong festivities. We’ve rounded them all up in our 2016 U.S. beer festival calendar, so you can start planning your next road trip—with a designated driver. (And if you know of another festival you think is worth hitting up in 2016, let us know in the comments.)

U.S. beer festival calendar 2016

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L.A. Beer Week
Photograph: Courtesy L.A. Beer Week

Los Angeles Beer Week, Los Angeles

The City of Angels doesn’t routinely appear in conversations about the nation’s best beer cities, but in a city of some 13 million, you had better believe there’s some beer to be had. L.A. Beer Week kicks off in mid-June with a festival run by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild. Expect sixty breweries, from locals like Angel City, Boomtown and Monkish, to rub elbows and tap handles with national mainstays like Anchor and Victory. And, of course, what’s an L.A. event without food trucks? Mid-June

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Portland Fruit Beer Festival
Photograph: Ritch Marvin

Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland, OR

Billing itself as the world’s first festival devoted to fruit beers, the Portland Fruit Beer Festival returns for a sixth year in 2016. Though not the largest festival on this list (2015 featured around 30 beers and ciders), the range of offerings makes this particularly exciting. All manner of styles, from stouts to sours and saisons, are featured, and they’re packed with fruits like blackberries, huckleberries, prickly pears and more. Finished with fruit? Portland has about 60 other breweries and brewpubs to satisfy your thirst. Mid-June

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Photograph: Timothy Horn
Photograph: Timothy Horn

Oregon Brewers Festival, Portland, OR

Love a bit of nature with your beer? The Oregon Brewers Festival hears you. This festival hosts 80-plus breweries from across the country, serving more than 30 styles of beer to over 80,000 thirsty attendees across five days. The festival’s background is majestic Mt. Hood, and its foreground is the Willamette River. The only thing more inspiring than the views are the festival’s free admission and $4 beers. July 27-31

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Belgium Comes to Cooperstown
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons Adam Chandler

Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, Ommegang, NY

Hosted by Brewery Ommegang, arguably the premier brewer of Belgian beer styles in America, Belgium Comes to Cooperstown celebrates its 17th year in 2016. The only festival on this list at which you can camp, BCTC is about more than just the beer (though with 100 breweries attending, there’s plenty of that too). There is plenty to keep the 3,000 attendees buzzing, including live music, educational lectures, cooking competitions and demos, and dinner for more than 700 VIPs. Early August

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Adam Chandler

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DC Beer Week
Photograph: Courtesy DC Beer Week

DC Beer Week, Washington, D.C.

With a rapidly increasing number of local breweries, a robust distribution of breweries from across the country and globe, and the ability to import beer from anywhere and sell it legally, the selection of beers and the variety of beer events during DC Beer Week are both immense. (I’m biased because I co-chaired DC Beer Week 2015). Past marquee events have included a “Brewers on the Block” outdoor kickoff, a 50-beers-from-DC tap takeover and a scavenger hunt across the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Mid-August

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Photograph: Matthieu Rodriguez
Photograph: Matthieu Rodriguez

Brewgrass Festival, Asheville, NC

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a paradise for beer fans. It has long been a stronghold of craft breweries, and powerhouses like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada have also decided to call it home with second breweries. For almost 20 years, Asheville has paired its love of beer with bluegrass at the Brewgrass Festival. More than 50 breweries (including Asheville’s much-respected hometown heroes) pour while bluegrass bands keep everything lively. Mid-September

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Snallygaster
Photograph: Courtesy Snallygaster

Snallygaster, Washington, D.C.

Named after the mythical half-reptile, half-bird that was said to have terrorized Washington, D.C. and Maryland in the 1700s, this festival features a beer selection that is also terrifying... in its quality and quantity. From the Neighborhood Restaurant Group—the people behind many of D.C.’s best beer bars—comes an event featuring 300 beers of local, national and imported origins. Food trucks and Neighborhood’s restaurants offer tasty bites to match rare beers you never thought you’d get a chance to try. Beware of Mothra, Rodan and the other beasts around which the beers are clustered at Snallygaster. September

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Photograph: © Brewers Association
Photograph: © Brewers Association

The Great American Beer Festival, Denver

No list of beer festivals would be complete without the granddaddy of them all: the Great American Beer Festival. Held annually since 1982, GABF has grown to feature more than 3,500 beers from over 700 breweries around the country. Winning a medal at GABF comes with serious bragging rights for the hundreds of brewers in attendance, and they’ll be happy to tell you all about their hopeful beers as they work their tables. Beyond the main event, Denver’s impressive beer scene also goes all out with tastings, tap takeovers, dinners and more. October 6-8

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The Festival presented by Shelton Brothers, rotating location

Shelton Brothers Inc. has a reputation nationwide for importing and distributing many of the world’s rarest, best and most traditional beer brands (among others: Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen and Fantôme—and that’s just three in Belgium!). Each year they hold a festival to showcase their portfolio. Along with their brands, they invite top-tier U.S. breweries like Hill Farmstead and Jester King. Best of all, breweries staff their tables, giving attendees unprecedented facetime with some of the world’s best beer, cider and mead makers. Mid-October

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Adam Chandler

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Barclays Center ribbon cutting
Photograph: Filip Wolak

TAPPED Craft Beer Festival, Brooklyn, NY

TAPPED puts beer fans on the floor of Barclays Center, but instead of dunks, they get dunkels. Expect 100-plus beers, wines and ciders; past featured breweries have included local favorites (Alphabet City, Brooklyn, Queens Brewing), others from across the country (Founders, Bear Republic), and well-respected imports (St. Feuillien). Late October (dates TBA)
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