The beer festival calendar traverses the globe and interacts with millions of beer lovers each year. Sampling diverse beers alongside culinary delights and, often, live entertainment is clearly a global pastime – and 2016 will not disappoint. Here’s what the beer festival world can offer this year…
Barcelona Beer Festival
Date: 4-6 March 2016
Location: Barcelona Maritime Museum, Barcelona, Spain
Set in the dramatic, historical setting of the royal shipyards of the Maritime Museum, the Barcelona Beer Festival celebrates high-quality craft beer, offering more than 300 varieties. Dedicated to the culture as much as the taste of craft beer, the festival also offers a series of cultural and gastronomical lectures, networking for international professionals and a personal touch with ‘meet the brewer’ sessions.
The New Zealand Beer Festival
Date: 19 March 2016
Location: The Cloud, Auckland, New Zealand
This one-day experience combines beer, food and music to provide what is hoped to be a blissful day in the kiwi sunshine. Featuring mostly craft beer from New Zealand, the festival has matched each beer on offer with a gourmet food item from one of 24 vendors. Chilled music will accompany the afternoon, while headliners The Black Seeds will offer a reggae/afrobeat soundtrack into the evening.
Zythos Bier Festival
Date: 23-24 April 2016
Location: Leuven, Belgium
The largest beer festival in Belgium – and among the largest in Europe – offers more than 500 Belgian beers on 88 different stands staffed by brewers. A food corner will be on site, and the festival links to the Leuven beer weekend, which offers brewery tours, walks and talks. Each year, the festival recognises the three best-tasting beers, as voted by visitors, and gives awards to the winning breweries.
Czech Beer Festival
Date: 7-23 May 2016
Location: Letenská Pláň, Prague, Czech Republic
The 17-day festival in Prague will offer more than 150 draft beers from 17 Czech breweries, including beers brewed especially for the event by Krušovice Royal Brewery, available in the main tent. The ‘Beer Diversity’ tent will feature a changing cycle of labels. Visitors receive a personal festival card for ease of payment, and can enjoy a wide selection of music.
Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular
Dates and locations:
20-22 May at the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton, Melbourne
27-28 May at the Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh, Sydney
18 June at the ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane, Auckland
Held across three cities in Australia and New Zealand, this festival is designed to celebrate the diversity of craft beer. It features dozens of exclusive ‘festival beers’ brewed specifically for the event. A dozen food vendors will feature in each city, along with cooking demonstrations, educational seminars and other entertainment.
Mondial de la Bière
Date: 8-12 June 2016
Location: Palais des congrès de Montréal, Canada
Founded in 1994 by a trio of beer lovers, this festival describes itself as a ‘unique and friendly tasting event’ and features more than 500 beers from Quebec and around the world. Linked with the MBeer school of ‘beerology’, the festival offers workshops, conferences and classes to meet its aim to offer an education about beer.
Date: 16-19 June 2016
Location: Marina Promenade, Singapore
Launched eight years ago to raise the profile of the beer industry in Singapore, Beerfest Asia has grown bigger year on year and now offers more than 400 consumer and craft beers. A variety of entertainment is also included. Live music, stand-up comedy and fringe activities – such as the Great Beerfest Beer Pong and children’s recreational room – are all on offer.
Oregon Brewers Festival
Date: 27-31 July 2016
Location: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, USA
Celebrating its 29th year, the Oregon Brewers Festival attracts more than 80,000 craft beer lovers to one of the top beer cities in the world. The festival offers 80+ independent beers, as well as home-brewing demonstrations, beer memorabilia displays and a wide assortment of food. All ages are welcome, and the Crater Lake Soda Garden offers craft root beer for minors and drivers.
International Berlin Beer Festival
Date: 5-7 August 2016
Location: Karl-Marx-Allee, Berlin, Germany
Around 800,000 visitors will gather in the world’s longest beer garden (according to the Guinness World Records) for the 20th year of the International Berlin Beer Festival. Along the 2.2km, visitors can experience around 2,400 beers, offered by 340 breweries from 87 countries, while enjoying music from across 20 stages.
The Great British Beer Festival
Date: 9-13 August 2016
Location: Olympia, London, UK
Organised by the Campaign for Real Ale, Britain’s biggest beer festival offers visitors more than 900 real ales, ciders, perries and international beers to enjoy, alongside live music, food stands, seating areas and traditional pub games. The festival has been running since 1977 and features more than 350 British breweries.
Qingdao International Beer Festival
Date: August 2016
Location: Golden Sands Beach, Huangdao District; and Century Plaza in Laoshan District, Qingdao, China
This festival, launched in 1991 for the 100th birthday celebration of Qingdao City, has grown into Asia’s largest annual beer festival. Lasting two weeks, it kicks off with a grand opening concert and light show, before featuring carnival events, evening entertainments and beer tasting. The festival has a different themed mascot each year, based on the animals of the Chinese zodiac.
Karlovac Beer Festival
Date: August 2016
Location: Karlovac, Croatia
Originally started by a Karlovac brewery in 1984, the Karlovac Beer Festival has grown into a popular European event. Over 10 days, tourists and locals alike descend on the city to sample more than 50 different beers from a variety of countries. Watching parades and tasting Croatian dishes are also part of the festival’s draw.
Date: 17 September - 3 October 2016
Location: Theresienwiese, Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest, first held to mark marriage celebrations in Bavaria in 1810, has grown into what is commonly thought of as the largest beer festival in the world. Almost 6m guests attended in 2015 and consumed more than 7.5m litres of beer. Oktoberfest is 17 days long this year, features numerous tents with different beers and atmospheres on tap, as well as a fun fair and traditional opening and closing ceremonies.
Date: 23 September - 9 October 2016
Location: Cannstatter Wasen, Stuttgart, Germany
The second-largest beer festival in Germany attracts around 4m visitors each year, seeking authentic brews. The festival can trace its roots back to 1818, as a celebration to mark the end of famine in the city. Funfair attractions and market stalls all add to the overall ‘volksfest’ experience.
Great American Beer festival
Date: 6-8 October 2016
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
The American brewing industry’s largest public tasting, the Great American Beer Festival offers access to more than 3,500 different beers from some 700 of the nation’s breweries. Beer from all parts of the country is represented and arranged geographically in the festival hall. The event, which has been held since the early 1980s, awards medals to beers in 92 categories, and is considered the largest ticketed beer festival in the United States.
Fiesta Nacional de la Cerveza
Date: October 2016
Location: Villa General Belgrano, Córdoba, Argentina
The Argentinian version of Oktoberfest has taken place since the early 1960s, and was founded by German immigrants in Argentina. The festival attracts around 100,000 tourists, and is particularly family-friendly. Unique features include a hot dog parade – where dachshunds parade in hot dog costumes – and the ‘epiche’ at the start of each day of festivities, where a barrel of beer is shaken and sprayed on visitors.
Oktoberfest of Blumenau
Date: October 2016
Location: Blumenau, Brazil
Brazil also has its own version of Oktoberfest. It was first held in 1984 in Blumenau – a city that was at the centre of German immigration around 200 years ago and still retains heritage and architecture from this period. The 18-day beer festival, thought to be among the largest in the world, celebrates a fusion of German and Brazilian culture, music and food, alongside a diverse sampling of beer.