Beer is one of the oldest beverages we enjoy, dating back to at least 5th millennium BC. Chemical tests on pottery show beer was produced 7,000 years ago in what is now Iran. By the 7th century AD, beer was being produced and sold by European monasteries. In 5400 BC Asia began brewing beer in Sumer where northern Iraq is. The pilgrims had beer on the Mayflower. Who knew?
In the years before Prohibition, there were thousands of breweries in the U.S. Most went out of business in the 1920’s due to prohibition, but they have been springing up again since the 1980’s. Also on the rise is the number of brew fests.
What Happens at a “Brewfest”?
A Brewfest is a beer festival or event where there are numerous beers available to purchase or taste. Oktoberfest, which happens in Munich, is perhaps the best-known “Brewfest”. For sixteen days, people eat, drink and become Bavarian.
The festival originated as the local celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese in 1810 with horse races, rejoicing and beer and wine tastings. In 1811 a decision was made to continue the festival each year, and with a few exceptions for things like disease and war, it has gone off annually.
Not to be outdone, the US joined in the fun back in the 1980’s providing breweries a place to show off their brews to a thirsty crowd. Food is generally also available at brew fests, and you get a snifter glass to sample with. They are a fun day out while helping you expand your beer palate.
Not being much of a beer drinker I shrugged off the invitations for as long as I could. “I don’t drink much beer”, I said. However, one Brewfest and I was sold. Now I sample with the best of them and enjoy tasting the tried and true along with the experimental.
If you have never gone to a Brewfest, you have to try it. It is a lot of fun, very educational and fascinating to meet the beer aficionados. Follow along as we rank a few fun festivals to visit.
Some have come and gone, but some are yet to happen, and these are just a few of the brew events that are out there. We begin with five well known, larger brew fests and end with five that are smaller, lesser known and more intimate.
Larger Brew Fests:
5. The Firestone Walker Invitational, Paso Robles, CA
This brew fest happens in June and brings about 50 brewers from around the US and the world and some that typically do not distribute to the west coast, providing an awesome opportunity to taste beers you have always wanted to taste. The fest has been going on since 2011 in this city known for its hot springs. A couple of breweries represented are Russian River, The Lost Abbey, and Cigar City Brewing to name a very few. Tickets are $85, which covers beer and food samples and music.
4. Denver Summer Brew Fest, Denver, Colorado.
This event runs for two days in July from 7-10pm. General admission is $35 in advance or $45 at the door. The festival is hosted at the Mile High Station in downtown Denver at a former steel and ironworks building that has retained some of its original turn of the century charms. There are roughly one hundred-twenty-five brews from about forty-five breweries. Approximately two thousand people attend to hear the live music and sample the craft brews from Colorado and beyond.