Going to the country’s largest and most lavish beer festivals is always a blast. It’s as though you’ve been invited to the year’s hottest party. What’s not to like?
Finding hidden gems that are just as amazing but have somehow slipped under the radar is just as much joy. Isn’t it like being the first in your group to discover a fantastic band and having your street cred skyrocket?
These six underappreciated beer festivals are well worth the journey and should be included in any national beer festival itinerary.
1. Shelton Brothers Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida
The Shelton Brothers hosted last year’s event in Los Angeles, and if this year’s event is anything like that, expect to be blown away. This two-day festival didn’t even come close to selling out, which is remarkable considering the presence of several incredible craft breweries (Jean-Pierre van Roy, Cantillon, Shaun Hill, Hill Farmstead, etc.). According to rumors, Cantillon allegedly shattered vintage bottles valued at over $7,000. This is your chance to meet and greet world-class brewers and sample their best offerings.
2. Brooklyn, New York – Where The Wild Beers Are
When two different sites organize a beer festival, you know it’s something unique. Where The Wild Beers Are isn’t your average beer festival, to be sure. It’s more of a participatory event, with funk enthusiasts bringing their unique wild and sour ales. Whereas most beer festivals focus on beer’s pure yeast culture, Where The Wild Beers Are honors an age-old brewing method. It’s a BYOB festival (the more you bring, the more samples there are! ), so expect to see some unusual beers.
“Because of its tiny size, the fact that it’s a bunch of sour and funk, and the fact that it’s BYOB, it’s one of my favorite events of the year. Some items in these attendees’ cellars or brought home from their travels worldwide are ridiculous.” Chop Liver Craft Beer Festival’s owner, Mark Opdahl
3. Brooklyn Center, Minnesota’s SurlyFest
SurlyFest is a one-of-a-kind Minnesota event that takes place a month before Surly Brewing Company’s massive Darkness Day celebration. SurlyFest is Surly’s Oktoberfest beer, and it takes center stage in this parking lot bash that brings the Twin Cities closer together than ever before. SurlyFest is a must-attend event for anyone who enjoys well-crafted beer and a large party.
4. Sioux Falls, SD’s Beervana
If you haven’t been to Beervana, you haven’t experienced true beer enlightenment. Beervana is the yearly beer festival held by Monk’s House of Ale Repute. It’s a parking lot mixed with one-offs, resulting in one of the most memorable experiences at any beer festival. Don’t be fooled by the glitz and shine. South Dakota as it is. A parking lot, an 80s cover band, and alcohol… plenty of it. Get down to business and drink what you came to do. They know how to do it in South Dakota.
“It’s true South Dakota in its simplicity, with a parking lot, a couple of musicians, and the most absurd beer list in the state.” Chop Liver Craft Beer Festival’s owner, Mark Opdahl
5. Exeter, New Hampshire’s Powderkeg Beer, and Chili Festival
Powderkeg has a good vibe going on. Perhaps the New Hampshire beer festival coincides with New England’s crisp autumn days and vibrant fall foliage. This is a one-of-a-kind event because of the artisan beer, homemade chili, and breathtaking fall foliage vistas. You don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t seen a New Hampshire autumn. View the colors while enjoying some of the greatest chili and beer in the region. We think it’s ideal.
6. Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival – Chattanooga, Tennessee
The Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival has been around for three years and is still not as well-known as it should be. The festival, hosted by Terminal Brewhouse, showcases the best in music, cuisine, and beer and is only open to 1,500 people. Not only is it Chattanooga’s most thrilling beer festival, but it’s also one of Tennessee’s best.