Beer Fests of the Month

Bask in the Cask: 11 of America’s Best Cask Ale Festivals

Published May 6th, 2016

Where there’s beer, there’s reason to smile, right? That’s why we go above and beyond to unearth some of this land’s greatest beer fests – all for you to enjoy. That’s why we’re so excited to bring to you the best in America’s Cask Ale Festivals, because while a “cask ale festival” is about the beer, there are some differences worth highlighting.

Beer Class 101: What is cask ale?

OK, class, listen up. If you’re a fan of, then you know that not all beer is created equal. Different styles; different ingredients; different processes. All of these things factor in to what you, the consumer, taste in your glass.

That’s why we think it vital that you not only know the difference between cask ale and keg beer, but that you make your way to any one of these 11 awesome displays of cask perfection.

Cask Ale:
Also known as real ale, cask ale is made using traditional
methods for fermenting and storing beer. Unpasteurized, unfiltered,
and unlike any beer you’ll find on the shelf or from a keg, cask-conditioned ales are known for their unique flavor profiles and light natural carbonation.

A small cask used for cask ales (smaller than a keg)

  1.  1. Michigan Cask Ale Festival – Westland, MI. It takes months of planning and hard work to get the two dozen cask ales that are tapped at the annual Michigan Cask Ale Festival ready for the party. And what a party it is! Set on a gorgeous on premise Beer Garden, this is the largest festival of its kind in all of Michigan. Tickets include unlimited samples, so be prepared to dabble to your heart’s content! Learn more now.
  2. New England Real Ale eXhibition – South Boston, MA.
    The name says it all, doesn’t it? This New England-based festival is the longest Real Ale Festival in the entire country. That’s right, the folks in Boston started it all. Each year you can enjoy more than 100 firkins of real ale and cider, made up of over 50 British beers and 50 American beers, in the place where the Brits and the Yanks started a revolution! Every beer served here has been cask-conditioned and served by either gravity or hand-pump, the way Paul Revere and Sam Adams would like it. Learn more now.
  3. AleFest Dayton – Dayton, OH
    Every summer, downtown Dayton becomes the place to be in all of Ohio when the state’s longest running craft beer festival comes alive. Now, in its 18th year, AleFest Dayton will feature a cask tent with 12 casks featuring Heavy Seas, Thirsty Dog, Boulder and beyond. What an opportunity to not only experience one heck of a beer fest, but to do so on a year when you can bask in the cask. Learn more now.
  4. Blue Point Brewery Cask Ales Festival – Patchogue, NY
    2016 marked the 12th year of one of Long Island’s most treasured parties: The Blue Point Brewery Cask Ales Festival. Each year it seems the festival gets bigger and better. This past year, for example, the festival added a second tent, live music from Jellyband, awesome food trucks, and cask ales from more than 30 breweries. April is a great time to be on Long Island anyways; now you have another reason to come on down. Learn more now.
  5. Day of the Living Ales – Chicago, IL
    In case you didn’t know, Chicago knows a thing or two about quality beer. And one group who can really teach you a thing or two about the magic of the cask is the revered Chicago Beer Society, which hosts the beloved Day of the Living Ales. What can you expect at this Chi-Town party? How about more than 40 cask ales to sample from, not to mention the opportunity to vote for the beers that best exemplify a true cask beer. Learn more now.
  6. Firkfest Cask Beer Festival & Chili Cookoff – Anaheim, CA
    My oh my, what is there not to love about this SoCal fest that features both beer and chili? More than 50 casks of beer from 30 of Southern California’s best breweries are tapped annually, providing fest-goers a tremendous liquid buffet to sample from. Rain or shine this festival is always packed to the seams, so be sure to get your tickets fast! Learn more now.
  7. Firkin Rendezvous ¬– Colorado Springs, CO
    The Firkin Rendezvous is now in its 11th year, and not only helps shed light on the beauty of the cask ale, but also helps benefit the Colorado Brewers Guild. Nearly 40 Colorado-based breweries come together to create a traditional British style of brewing that originated centuries ago. Learn more now.
  8. 8. Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest – Milwaukee, WI
    It’s hard to compile a beer festival list of any kind without including Milwaukee. We all know Milwaukee does beer right; but did you know the city also masters the art of the cask? Produced by Brew Fest Partners, the Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest is your opportunity to vote for your favorite brewery (the award is, fittingly, the Big Firkin Award), and is the ideal party for serious beer lovers and cask-conditioned ale enthusiasts. Learn more now.
  9. Connecticut Real Ale Festival – New Haven, CT
    Not only is English-style cask ale featured at the annual Connecticut Real Ale Festival, but the entire event is setup like a classic English Cask event (including larger glasses!). With 16 years under their belt, you can be certain that the folks behind CT’s real ale fest know how to pull off a party that’s both fun and educational. Learn more now.
  10. Philadelphia Real Ale Invitational – Philadelphia, PA
    20 years ago, Yards Brewing Company helped resurrect the cask-ale style of brewing with its Extra Special Ale, which pretty much makes them the authoritative force in the world of stateside cask ale. By default, then, their Philadelphia Real Ale Invitational surely is the the barometer from which all other cask ale fests are measured. Come enjoy 50+ firkins of cask-conditioned beer from brewers all around the world, in a city known for its originality and flavor. Learn more now.
  11. Washington Brewers Guild Cask Festival – Seattle, WA
    The Washington Brewers Guild thrives on providing folks throughout the Pacific Northwest not only the best beer in all the land, but a little history and background on these beers as well. That’s why their annual Cask Festival is the perfect match for their mission: festival-goers can enjoy handcrafted cask-conditioned beers from more than 40 Washington breweries, all while learning about the history (and flavor) of real ale. Learn more now.

The final cask ask.

We’ve highlighted 11 of the most beloved and treasured cask ale festivals in the country, but we know there’s more out there. Let us know where else beer lovers should flock to to get the best of real ale. Comment here or on social media.

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