The world’s best beer festivals

What could be better than getting to taste the world’s finest ales, surrounded by your fellow beer enthusiasts? The beer festival is pretty much the best idea for a gathering ever invented.

But some fests can be a little flavourless. Whether they’re decked out in mega-corp mainstream beers or just a little too stuffy and sentimental for modern tastes, some beer festivals just don’t hit the mark.

So we’ve had a look around the world for the very best in fests, just for you – now’s your chance to start filling that calendar (and that pint glass).

Around the world

Qingdao, Shandong Province, China

Qingdao, a city of 9 million people on China’s east coast, was an outpost of the German Empire in the 1890s. The name of the city is also spelt Tsingtao – which will be more familiar to beer enthusiasts. Tsingtao brewery was opened as an Anglo-German venture in 1903 and created one of the world’s most recognisable Asian beer brands. In 1991 the brewery started the festival, which soon took over the city for up to 3 weeks each year. 

Visitors can expect an absolutely massive festival – Asia’s largest, in fact – taking place in multiple sites all over the city of  Qingdao. Hundreds of beer brands from all over the world take part, alongside loads of food, music and shows. While it was originally all about the local lager, the QIBF now supports the growing beer culture in Eastern China, from small craft brands to big internationals.

There are lots of German offerings too, including sauerkraut, bratwurst and Bavarian brews a-plenty. And there are some lovely beaches nearby if you need to relax afterwards.

Tokyo (and elsewhere), Japan

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan is the place to be for great-quality beers. The image of a tired salaryman sipping a late-night bottle of Asahi in a dank bar is a familiar scene in TV and film, but the beer scene in Japan goes much deeper than that. 

The Great Japan Beer Festival (aka. BeerFes) is a showcase of the country’s craft beer credentials, and has been going since 1998. Taking place in Tokyo and on different dates in other Japanese cities (Yokohama, Fukushima, Okinawa, Osaka, Nagoya), you could follow it around the country over the course of a few months, if you were so inclined.

It’s all about tasting the great variety of beers – over 150 varieties from more than 50 local breweries alongside some international ones too. And in one of the best food destinations in the world, you’ll also find some of the best beer and food pairings you’ll ever taste.

The “International Beer Cup”, held at the festival, is reportedly one of the most prestigious beer competitions in the world, with the very best brew being selected from more than 500 beers.

Around Europe

Munich, Germany

We couldn’t possibly miss Oktoberfest, could we? 

The world’s largest and most famous beer festival is held in Munich over the course of two and a half rowdy weeks. Oktoberfest is said to be one of the world’s very best beer festivals; around six million people per year travel from all over the world to experience this celebration of all things beer. It’s absolutely massive. And it actually starts in September, usually ending on the first Sunday in October. Beer served at Oktoberfest is limited to that which is brewed within the city limits – a guarantee of its stellar quality.

Expect all that’s great about Germany: incredible Bavarian food, dirndls, gallons of terrific beer and plenty of revelry. Just be aware you need to play by the rules (obviously) – all beer has to be drunk whilst seated, and booking a seat in advance in one of the beer halls is essential. 

Munich clearly has a love for beers – there’s also the Starkbierfest, the ’strong beer festival’, that takes place during Lent. Taking place all over the city of Munich, this has been going since 1751, so you know it’s a good one. 

(There’s also a Brazilian version, the Blumenau Oktoberfest – Blumenau being a city founded by a German doctor back in the 1850s – 18 days of raucous celebrations with global and local beers, and a competition to see who can down a yard of ale the fastest. Marvellous.)

Pilsen, Czech Republic

Many Brits associate Czech beer with raucous stag weekends in Prague, but it deserves more respect than that – the Czech Republic is one of the spiritual homes of beer itself and is responsible for some of the world’s best. If you’re a fan of Pilsner, the famous Czech blonde lager, you’re in for a treat. Pilsner’s birthplace, Pilsen, lies in western Czechia and is home to the Pilsner Fest every October.

Around 30,000 pilsner fans descend on Pilsen each year to enjoy the golden 

with a pint of Pilsner Urquell (the original pilsner) costing 45 crowns (around £1.50) it’s certainly value for money. According to the event’s website, that’s expensive by local standards (!) but is justified by the free entry, hearty food, and great music.

You can enjoy tours of the famous brewery itself, taste the many different variations of filtered and unfiltered pilsners, and enjoy a huge selection of local Czech brews and other world beers. This festival is as much about learning as it is tasting – the local pilsner experts are trained to master the brewing process and are sent around the world to train others. You can taste their creations straight from the barrel and learn how the magic happens.

Closer to home

This one does what it says on the tin. Taking over Manchester Central (formerly the G-Mex) for three days in January, this festival is the biggest celebration of beer and cider in the North. There’ll be a mega selection of brews from all over the North, from tiny craft operations to big brands. Plus a selection of brilliant international drinks from around the world. It’s organised by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), so you know the drinks will be top notch. We’ve been there every year and can vouch for its quality too.

Saturday 7th December 2019, 2pm - Midnight

We’re running our very own festival! The Seven Brothers team are bringing together some very special guests to join us for a festive beer bonanza. There’ll be music, food, beer mulled wine and festive gin (from the SIS4ERS DISTILLERY, of course!)

We’ll have:

SEVEN BRO7HERS BREWERY (taproom)

Marble Brewery (mobile bar)

Pomona Island Brew Co (taproom) and

Hydes Brewery (mobile bar)

There’ll be food from Dirty Franks and The Crepe Hut, as well as music from Seamus Martinez and others. 

Tickets are only a fiver and include a pint of beer. 

Come and support your local breweries and have an awesome time in our (very boozy) Industrial estate. The nearest tram stops are Weaste, MediaCityUK and Broadway. Put this in your GPS: 63 Waybridge Enterprise Center, Daniel Adamson Road, Salford M50 1DS. As long as you’re not driving, obviously!

See you there!

Keith McAvoy

Keith McAvoy

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