drinking beer = celebration
Drinking and Celebration are best friends. These two met one fine fall day on a tranquil university campus when summer was still in the air. Sitting side by side in Econ 101, Celebration noticed Drinking’s tired but excited eyes and booze-stained shirt. Drinking noticed the confetti in Celebration’s hair and the barely-concealed grin. Drinking and Celebration became fast friends, because that’s how Destiny works. Together, they destroyed the university (and changed the world, and you) in the best possible ways. Together they brought people everywhere jubilation, excitement, laughter, dancing, midnight hijinx, and the kind of regrettable decision that leads to a great story. And now, they’re bringing something else.
craft beer festivals
The world is finally catching on to what any college kid knows, that Drinking and Celebrating go hand-in-hand. Craft beer festivals, the world’s response, are sweeping the nations, bringing music, people, and best of all, beer, together. These celebrations are growing in popularity and can be found almost anywhere in the world. And son, they’re coming for you. Get excited!
But be forewarned. Beer festivals are for people who delight in beer and who wish to understand the art and science behind it. There is plenty of fun to be had (and you probably will hoist a stranger up on your shoulders), but if you want to just get sloshed and invent a new dance move to impress that hottie over there, buy some six-packs and stay home. Beer festivals are meant to impress and educate an eager population of beer enthusiasts. It’s impossible not to be enthusiastic about beer, but those who appreciate the story of beer, from wheat field to taproom, will enjoy the festivals the most.
Beer festivals all seem to follow a similar template. I’ve been to several and have noticed a trend. Entrants (or shall I say ‘classy partiers’) pay for a ticket and then buy a certain number of tokens corresponding to how many beers they want to drink. I was prepared to empty my bank account at the Craft Beer Festival in Toronto, Canada, but fortunately my wiser friend stopped me, and that’s the story of how I avoided a drunken financial downfall. In addition to the beer, there’s usually some free things given out too, and you get to keep your beer glass!
Craft brewers from any distance set up tents at these festivals, that feature anywhere from dozens to hundreds of brewers. Craft brewers bring their top brews to impress, delight, and educate the crowds. Individual brewers or representatives from larger breweries may only bring a few styles, maybe one IPA and one porter, or a unique variety of ale along with a hefeweizen. They want to show you their range, but one that proves that quality is more important than quantity.
Beer is the center of everything at these festivals. Food trucks and concessions can be found selling food that pairs well with beer. Often food and beer pairing seminars are offered. (Seminars become cool when at a beer festival.) There are home-brewing competitions, lessons on craft brewing, and even, in the Czech Republic, there is a mass toast at Pilsner Fest. And above all, the flavor of beer. So much goes into beer, that when a brewer is pouring you a sample of her latest stout, she is pouring her passion and life’s work into the glass.
a tour around the world
Each festival is unique, but the story of beer is at the heart of them all. So let’s jump in our hot air balloon and go to some of these festivals! Yes, our hot air balloon is a giant, empty beer can affixed to an enormous balloon. It’s how we travel in my world, buttercup, climb on in!
First stop, Munich! Yes, Oktoberfest is by far the largest beer festival in the world and has spawned hundreds of baby Oktoberfests everywhere. For 16 days, people try hundreds of varieties of beers, collectively drinking over 7.1 million liters of beer. Yow. A grand parade of the city’s breweries begins the festivities, and each day the drinking is highlighted by people in ridiculous and festive costumes. Quite frankly, a good time is had by all.
Get back in the balloon! Wipe that pilsner off your face and hop in! We’re late for the Belgian Beer Weekend! Brussels is the home of one of the best beer festivals in the world, because those in Belgium can brew beer. This little country is known throughout the world for their suds, and this weekend they pour the best of them. Ancient and time-honored breweries show up to show off their beers, and the ulitmate destination of any serious beer drinker in the world is only a short walk away…the Brewers Museum is a stunning, subterranean shrine to beer itself, and the people who make it.
Back in the balloon! Let’s zoom ourselves to an unexpected location. Get comfortable, and I hope you brought snacks, because we’re going to Japan. Yes, Japan! This country has a burgeoning and vibrant craft beer scene. The Japan Craft Beer Association puts on the Great Japan Beer Festival, whose sole purpose is to show off microbrews and craft beers that are made by Japanese brewers. I looked on Japan Craft Beer Association website, to get an idea of the events at this young and exciting festival, but it seemed that the biggest draw to the festival was that a person could sample any amount of beer for just the price of the entrance fee. That is a beautiful thing.
Get in the balloon again! We shouldn’t have stopped in Japan after all, because you totally went overboard trying those beers. But then again, that’s the point! Beer is meant to be enjoyed and learned about and shared. Craft beer is an exciting business and modern brewers are bringing the party.
There is still much to discover. I encourage you to look into local craft beer festivals that haven’t yet reached the magnitude of what’s mentioned here. Even if your local festival only features five breweries, you’ll get the opportunity to talk to the people who actually brew the beer. Learn about the process! It’s as exciting and interesting as lifting any stranger up on your shoulders, and it tastes a lot better.
Beer is a celebration. See you at the party !