5 Terrific Beer Festivals That Aren’t Oktoberfest

Martin Liivand • 31 Aug, 2016

Summer is drawing to a close in the Northern Hemisphere. As I sit in the office, lazily gazing out of the window into the grey and rainy afternoon, I see gloomy pedestrians scurrying on wet cobblestones. The trees, so vibrantly green just a month ago, are already showing hints of red and yellow. Once again, the warmth of summer is being blown away by the chilly autumn winds.

There are different ways of coping; some people seek comfort in a good book, some book a flight to a balmier destination. Others, though, decide to get unimaginably pissed.

And what better place to go for it than a beer festival? The biggest one, of course, is Oktoberfest, held in Munich from September 17 to October 3. But, everybody goes there and you’re one of those cultured beer connoisseurs who craves a bit of variety, right?

Whether you’re making plans for the end of the year or exploring possibilities for 2017, here are a few suggestions for other places to guzzle great brews.

1. International Berlin Beer Festival

Internationales_Berliner_Bierfestival_2016(89)Photo credit: International Berlin Beer Festival

Oktoberfest apparently doesn’t quite quench the mighty German thirst. It seems there’s always more room for delicious, foaming beer.

The International Berlin Beer Festival isn’t nearly as big as its Munich-based equivalent, bringing together “only” 800,000 visitors for three drunken, bratwurst-powered days each August. The festival, which holds the Guinness World Record for the longest beer garden in the world, offers over 2,400 beers from 87 countries and 340 different breweries.

There’s food, waiters in traditional German garb, bands playing on 20 stages and a massive spike in public urination. Also, hats off to the people who came up with the motto for this year’s festival: 500 Years of German Purity Law. That’s a sentence you don’t hear so often these days.

2. Great British Beer Festival

great_british_beer_festivalPhoto credit: Great British Beer Festival

The Great British Beer Festival, held annually in August at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London, is one of the biggest celebrations of beer culture Europe has to offer. Every year over 50,000 recreational alcoholics flock to the Big Smoke to sample an impressive selection of more than 900 beers, ciders and perries.

Don’t let the name fool you – not only British beers are featured. Breweries from all over the world bring their A game to delight beer fans.

There’s even a Hat Day, during which the visitor with the best hat wins a prize. If you were looking for an excuse to get hammered on good beer while rocking the coolest headpiece this side of the Thames, then this is your chance!

3. Czech Beer Festival

cpf-fotky-07Photo credit: Czech Beer Festival

The fact that the Czechs consume the most beer per capita in the entire world should a) explain why the language looks like it can only be spoken in a constant state of inebriation, and b) give you a pretty good impression of how awesome the Czech Beer Festival is.

The event takes place each May and lasts for a whopping 17 days, possibly because that’s how long it takes for the constantly boozed-up Czechs to get a buzz going. During that time you can sample local food, listen to good music and get the green light for that much needed liver transplant.

If you’d like to at least try and drink the locals under the table, you’ll have a selection of more than 150 craft beers from all over the world at your disposal.

4. Great American Beer Festival

GABFmedia_05Photo credit: Great American Beer Festival

I can still remember the days when us Europeans would snobbishly sip discounted pilsners with our pinkies proudly stretched skyward, feeling sorry for the Yanks because the best beer they could come up with was Coors Light and Budweiser. Apparently, as the Great American Beer Festival illustrates, the winds of change are blowing.

The biggest beer celebration in the USA is held in the beginning of October in Denver, with more than 800 breweries showcasing roughly 3,800 different beers. The best breweries get awarded by the Brewers Association, fans get to meet the people behind their favourite beers and festivalgoers get more bang for their buck since booze works faster a mile above sea level!

Tickets sold out in record time for this year’s festival, but you can always plan a trip down loss-of-memory lane for next year.

5. Mondial de la bière

mondialbiere-2015conf.-20Photo credit: Mondial de la bière

When the new hot-shot Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, visited the States in March, President Obama remarked that there are two things Americans and Canadians will never agree upon: who’s better at hockey and who has better beer. When it comes to hockey, it’s anyone’s guess, but the beer feud can be settled once and for all at Mondial de la bière.

This massive celebration of beer takes place in Montreal and attracts over 100,000 guests with more than 600 different beers. As usual, visitors can munch on delicious local food, but also pick up some new brewing tips and tricks.

After festivalgoers have each downed a few tall glasses of cold beer, the hockey rivalry will surely come to a conclusion, one way or the other.

Opening photo credit: Czech Beer Festival

Martin Liivand
Martin is studying history, so he could go on for hours about different invasions, treaties, movements, spheres of influence and assassination plots. If it’s old, chances are he’s heard about it.

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