Best Beer Festival in the U.S.? Great American Beer Festival!

Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival, Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival, Oregon Brewers Festival and Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest also winners

Beer festivals not only offer attendees the chance to sample numerous brews – sometimes even rare and one-off pours – these events also allow beer fans to dialog with their favorite brewmasters, sample paired foods and learn about a host of topics related to beer and brewing.

  • Belgium Comes to Cooperstown
    Cooperstown, N.Y.

    Cooperstown, N.Y. is not just about baseball. Belgian beer fans flock to the Brewery Ommegang throughout the year, especially for the brewery’s annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown Festival. The summertime weekend event takes place on the beautiful grounds of the brewery, and camping is available. In this relaxed setting, enthusiasts can mingle with the more than 75 brewers in attendance. Rare and vintage selections are among the more than 300 Belgian-style brews poured. Attendees can also enjoy live music, movie screenings and demos.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Johnson

  • Philly Craft Beer Festival
    Philadelphia

    Hosted in the Philadelphia Navy Yard each March, Philly Craft Beer Festival gives beer fans an opportunity to sample more than 200 beers from 75 regional, national and international breweries. A special VIP session includes tastings of rare beers not poured during the general session. Philly-area food trucks park on site to keep the hungry masses happy.
    Photo courtesy of Daniel Neuner / Philly Craft Beer Festival

  • Dark Lord Day
    Munster, Ind.

    Three Floyds Brewing Co.'s Dark Lord – a high-alcohol Russian imperial stout brewed with coffee, vanilla and sugar or molasses – has been ranked one of the best beers in the world, but it’s only available for purchase at this annual event at the brewery in Munster, Ind. Attendance is limited, and the 6,000 lucky enthusiasts gather to sample beers from around the world, mingle with fellow beer fans, enjoy food and live music and get their hands on the highly sought-after Dark Lord.
    Photo courtesy of jason gessner / Flickr

  • Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival
    Breckenridge, Colo.

    Breckenridge gets a winter warmup each year during the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival. Visitors to the Colorado Rockies during this event can meet with brewers and sample hundreds of Belgian and experimental beers over the course of three days. A growing offering of beer and brewing seminars teach skills like cigar pairing, food pairing, experimental brewing and a Cicerone workshop.
    Photo courtesy of The Brewtography Project

  • Tailspin Ale Fest
    Louisville

    This Louisville fest is all about beer and planes, and a great way to warm up in the dead of winter. Beer enthusiasts and flight fanatics gather amid a display of WWII-era aircraft at Bowman Field in the WWII-era Hangar at Louisville Executive Aviation. Also known as “Louisville’s Winter Warmer,” the event features more than 150 craft beers - including a section dedicated to Kentucky brews – thus raising temps in chilly February. Attendees will also enjoy live music, the best of Louisville food trucks and great photo ops with vintage planes, pin-up girls and “fly boys.“
    Photo courtesy of Tailspin Ale Fest

  • Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest
    Paso Robles, Calif.

    The usually wine-centric town of Paso Robles turns their attention to the fine art of craft beer each June during the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest. This single-day, intimate gathering of beer lovers and brewmasters showcases brews from more than 50 American and international breweries.
    Photo courtesy of Nick Gingold / Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest

  • Oregon Brewers Festival
    Portland, Ore.

    For more than 25 years, around 80,000 craft beer lovers flock to Portland the last weekend in July to sample the wares of more than 80 independent craft brewers from around the country. Situated along the banks of the Willamette River, offering views of the Portland skyline and Mt. Hood, the festival has a laid back atmosphere conducive to sipping and enjoying some of the best brews around. An international tent features craft beers from overseas, and live music, home brewing demos, food and memorabilia add to the fun.
    Photo courtesy of Timothy Horn

  • Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival
    Galveston, Texas

    This Gulf Coast beer festival draws enthusiasts for sun, fun and samplings of more than 400 regional and international craft beers. The focus of the three-day event is the “BrewLicious Brews and Foods Pairing” and the “BrewHaHa Grand Tasting.” Attendees can talk with industry experts and award winners while tasting some of the best beers in the world. Related events include the “BrewMasters PubCrawl” and a Texas brewery tour. The weekend ends with live music and fireworks on the beach.
    Photo courtesy of BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival

  • Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival
    Atlantic City

    Each spring, beer enthusiasts in the Atlantic City area descend upon the convention center for a weekend filled with suds, sounds and surprises. The festival has been going strong for more than 10 years, adding new elements to each edition. Besides sampling more than 1,000 beers from 150 different breweries, attendees can rock out to headlining bands, watch culinary demos from local chefs and compete with other beer geeks in a variety of competitions like hot wing eating, field goal kicking and a 5K “Hops Trot” that stops at some of Atlantic City’s most popular watering holes.
    Photo courtesy of Atlantic City

  • Great American Beer Festival
    Denver

    Denver becomes ground zero for beer fans each fall, when the Brewers Association presents the largest collection of American beers in one spot at this premier US beer festival. Hundreds of breweries participate, and beers are served by their brewers, giving enthusiasts the opportunity to speak with them personally. An educational component features talks by top brewers and innovators, beer-making demos, beer pairing sessions, and even a pavilion dedicated to sustainability. The festival is also a competition, with medals being awarded in more than 90 beer style categories.
    Photo courtesy of Brewers Association

The top 10 winners in the category Best Beer Festival are as follows:

  1. Great American Beer Festival - Denver
  2. Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival - Atlantic City
  3. Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival - Galveston, Texas
  4. Oregon Brewers Festival - Portland, Ore.
  5. Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest - Paso Robles, Calif.
  6. Tailspin Ale Fest - Louisville
  7. Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival - Breckenridge, Colo.
  8. Dark Lord Day - Munster, Ind.
  9. Philly Craft Beer Festival - Philadelphia
  10. Belgium Comes to Cooperstown - Cooperstown, N.Y.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Ruth Berman (Bon Beer Voyage), Julia Herz (Brewers Association), Gary Monterosso (What’s On Tap), Jack Muldowney (The Hop Review) and Ale Sharpton (AleSharpton.com) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience in the American beer industry.

Congratulations to all these beer-centric and totally travel-worthy festivals.

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Ruth Berman

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Ale Sharpton

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