Beer Fests of the Month

Top 10 Cities To Go to for a Beer Fest

Published September 23rd, 2014

While most people rightfully subscribe to the belief that any beer fest is a good beer fest worth attending, some cities just have a knack for being the life of the party. Always committed toward helping avid beer fest junkies find their fest fix across this great land, committed itself to uncovering the top 10 cities to go to a beer fest.Knowing that this could be a truly subjective list, we based our criteria on both quantity and quality (meaning which cities hold the most beer fests, combined with the cities that provide the best beer fest experience). The best beer fests tend to be well known, thus they're usually long-running and/or extremely well attended, so we of course took that into consideration as well.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 cities to go to for a beer fest:

#10. Asheville, NC

Asheville tops a good number of lists these days (best small city; best city for music; etc.) and its commitment to providing killer beer fests makes it a top-10'er on our list as well. With a growing population of 20 somethings and youthful older folks swarming to this bluegrass addicted town nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, Asheville is ripe for the beer fest plucking. The Beer City Festival held at Roger McGuire Green in May is heralded as the brewer's beer festival, while the Annual Brewgrass Festival celebrated its 18th year this past Sept. 20, and serves as a benefit for the Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Western North Carolina. Nuzzled warmly within the coldest days of the year (Jan. 25), the Asheville Winter Warmer Beer Festival has one purpose: fight the winter blues with some good ol' home brew.

#9. Atlanta, GA

Known as the Empire City of the South, Hot-Lanta is more than a city of peaches. It's a city with a love for the finest beer around. What better way to beat the heat of an inland Southern city than to drink beer, right? And Atlanta does not disappoint. Scheduled yearly during the hottest days of the year, the Annual Atlanta Summer Beer Fest features more than 150 beers from breweries all over the country. The aptly named Great Atlanta Beer Fest celebrates two of Atlanta's loves: beer and baseball, as the festival is held at Turner Field, features 200 beers, live music and more. While any city's downtown area could argue that they know how to hold a good festival, it's when a city's other areas get in the game that you find a top-10 contender. That's exactly what happened here, as East Atlanta - for the past 11 years - has proven that no matter where in Atlanta you are, you can have a good time. Their Annual East Atlanta Beer Festival is a hit throughout the south.

#8. Nashville, TN

Nashville always knows how to perform, which is why when it learned that neighboring Atlanta and Asheville made the top 10 list, it knew it had to step up its game. In a city where music is as much religion as it is the leading industry that keeps the gears spinning, there's no surprise that all the music aficionados out there need a little beer to wash down the tunes with. And they have plenty of that in Nashville, with festivals including the East Nashville Beer Festival, which is known for its loyal attendees and record sellouts. Music City Brewers Festival is held at the Walk of Fame Park, features live music (of course) and more than 40 local, regional, national, and dare we say international beers. And just in time for Oktoberfest is the annual Tennessee Volkfest (held this year on Sept. 13), now in its second year and featuring all things German, including half liter steins, music, food and more.

#7. Las Vegas, NV

Not that we're saying that beer drinking is directly related to sin, but if you're going to be named the City of Sin, you best have a healthy identity as a coveted beer destination. And while many folks go to Las Vegas for the gambling and free, watered down drinks in the casino, beer enthusiasts can enjoy their time in the desert as well. The Downtown Brew Festival is held in an unbelievably gorgeous setting - the Clark County Amphitheater - right in downtown Las Vegas, where an evening desert night will all but urge you to drink. The Great Vegas Festival of Beer actually happens to be the city's largest handcrafted beer festival, with more than 250 brews from 80 breweries and always featuring beer from local pubs and restaurants.  And then there's the Inaugural Boulevard Beer Fest, taking place this year on Sept. 27. This baby to the pack is bringing the beer-rich Northwest to the Southwest, with a partnership alongside the Oregon Brewers Festival. This festival will feature the best of the best from one of the country's most passionate beer states (Oregon).

#6. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

We know what you're saying. It's not fair to count two cities as one on this list. But come on. Didn't you ever know twins at school? When you invited one somewhere, you knew it was a package deal. As is the case with the Twin Cities. But not to worry, whether taken as one city, or as a set, the Scandinavia of the US knows how to celebrate beer, no matter how cold it gets. The Northern Lights Rare Beer Festival is ideal for beer drinkers who search for rarities like record collectors do - the springtime festival only features one-off, vintage and rare beers found, basically, nowhere else.  As June hits, for the past 6 years, the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest has brought attention to more than 100 breweries, to the MN State Fairgrounds, while raising funds for the YMCA of St. Paul. And, because Minneapolis is known for being a bit ... off ... nothing is more fitting than going to the annual Beer Dabbler at Twin Cities Pride, which brings (to gorgeous Loring Park) food trucks and brewers from around the area, alongside a silent disco, live music and tons of games.

#5. Boston, MA

The oldest city on our list sure as heck isn't too old to know how to party. Chances are our founding fathers were fueled with some fine craft beer as they dumped tea into the harbor and thumbed their noses at the British. It's only right that the city continues that tradition. The American Craft Beer Fest is the East Coast's largest celebration of American craft beer with (count them) 640 craft beers from more than 140 brewers. That type of turnout gets thousands of people from across the globe to come to this little city. Flowers get all the attention in the spring, but the Drink Craft Beer Springfest held in Boston thinks that hops deserves more love, which is why 25 of New England's best craft brewers get a chance to write their love poems to hops in the form of libations. The Mass Brewers Fest is a great time to mix and mingle with brewery owners from across Massachusetts, and is held at the gorgeous Seaport World Trade Center. And then there's the Harpoon Octoberfest. Harpoon Brewery is no stranger to festivals these days. But Boston's Octoberfest was the first ever festival the brewery threw, way back in 1990. Featuring Chicken Dancing, German food and more, this is a New England classic.

#4. San Diego, CA

There's so much more to San Diego than just beach bodies, blonde hair, year-round surfing and the kind of weather that makes you question why you live where you live. San Diego knows how to get their beer on. The San Diego International Beer Festival is the perfect opportunity to travel the world without leaving the comfortable confines of San Diego. Once you recover from that event (in June) be sure to hit up two of San Diego's most coveted events - ComicCon and the Heroes Craft Beer Brew Festival (usually held in July). The Heroes fest is held on the same day as ComicCon, and brings with it just as much fun, strangeness, and costumes as the comic book convention. The success of a city's beer culture has to start somewhere, and for San Diego, the Big Bang happened with the San Diego Festival of Beer, which for 20 years has helped fight cancer, and promote good beer. This past year's event was held at a new location, the gorgeous Broadway Pier at Port Pavilion.

#3. Chicago, IL

It's not just Da Bears and Da Bulls in the Windy City. It's also Da Beer. But, if you're going to celebrate Da Beer, wouldn't it be nice to tie in another passion of Chicago? That's why the American Beer Classic is so beloved. It's not just a beer festival. It's a beer festival held at Soldier's Field. The Oktoberfest Chicago festival is enormous. It's held over an entire weekend, with things to do both indoors and outside, and features music, food, entertainment, and even family-friendly events. Of course, when people think of fall beer, they think of Oktoberfest. But before you go to the Oktoberfest Chicago event, you might as well head on to the Chicago Fall Beer Festival, held in early September. The festival is typically held inside Union Station.

#2. Portland, OR

Remember way back when, during the whole Las Vegas breakdown, when we talked about Oregon's love for beer? Yeah, we weren't kidding. Portland, OR knows how to celebrate microbrews. With the benefit of living in the only region in the country where hops grows, it's no wonder there are tons of options for the beer enthusiast in Portland. And here's how they celebrate their tastings: The Oregon Brewers Festival is to brewers what the Major Leagues is to baseball players. It's one of the country's largest and longest running craft beer fests. The Holiday Ale Festival held in December, reminds us we don't have to settle for spiked eggnog. This festival, despite held in the winter, is still technically outdoors (a large clear top tent covers Pioneer Courthouse Square). Another reason Portland ranks so high on our list is because of the city's creativity when it comes to beer fests. The Portland Fruit Beer Festival is the first of its kind, and features beers you'll never have even thought of before, featuring peaches, rhubarb and more.

#1. Denver, CO 

If you've ever visited the Denver area, the first thing many folks will tell you is to go easy on the drinks until you acclimate to the high elevation. Once you do acclimate, however, it's game on, because Denver is our pick for the best city for celebrating beer festivals. But why? Well, let's just start with the Great American Beer Festival, which is not only the country's premier festival, but heck, it's also a competition that invites the public to come and take part. The Denver Summer Brew Fest continues the beer festival tradition - held at Mile High Station - and also serves as a benefit event for the Swallow Hill Music Association. A local favorite is the Denver Zoo Brew at the Zoo, which brings large crowds to the Denver Zoo. For nearly two decades folks have been coming to the zoo to taste some of Colorado's finest beers, and all signs point to another successful 20 years. What the Funk!? is a cool concept - it has nothing to do with funk music, but does have a lot to do with funky, sour, wild and barrel-aged beers. If you're ready to push your taste buds to the limit, then this is the festival for you.

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