Great American Beer Festival Wins Best Beer Festival!

Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, Great Taste of the Midwest, Field of Beers and BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival also winners

Great beer festivals not only allow you to sample a huge variety of interesting brews, they also often offer opportunities to interact directly with the brewers, sample professionally paired food and mingle with fellow aficionados. These 10 festivals, voted to the top by USA TODAY 10Best readers, rank among the most travel-worthy in the U.S.

  • Decatur Craft Beer Festival
    Decatur, Ga.

    Thousands of beer fanatics gather in downtown Decatur, Ga. - a (peach) stone’s throw from Atlanta - to sample some of the finest American craft beers at this annual showcase. Sponsored by area distributors, pubs, and restaurants, there’s a strong local focus, with acclaimed regional beers starring alongside national offerings. More than 100 brews are available as well as special tappings. Live music and food make this a highlight of Decatur’s strong beer scene.
    Photo courtesy of Decatur Development Authority

  • Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers

    Tickets sell out fast for this Chicago fest. It’s the largest of its kind, bringing together nearly 100 breweries sampling 300 craft beers that have been aged in barrels or have had contact with wood. These beers take on the characteristics of the barrels - whether wine, whiskey or Bourbon - creating unique flavor profiles. The festival is a rare opportunity to sample beers generally not available commercially. Also part of the festival is the National Wood Aged Beer Competition, which gives out awards in 12 style categories.
    Photo courtesy of Laurie Chipps / Flickr

  • 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 Bryan J. Kolesar

  • Tailspin Ale Fest

    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

  • North American Belgian Beer Festival
    Westland, Mich.

    Part of the larger Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival in Westland, Mich., the NABBF is the largest exclusively Belgian beer festival in the US. Nowhere else can Belgian beer enthusiasts find more Belgian beers in one place at one time; the event is so thoroughly Belgian, it’s co-sponsored by the Trade Consulate General of Belgium/Flanders Investment and Trade. More than 80 different brewers sample 200+ beers, all brewed exclusively in Belgium. Along with the opportunity to taste these beers, attendees can attend seminars such as "Belgians Have Got Style," "Petrus Sour Beer Blending," and "The Trappist Experience."
    Photo courtesy of North American Belgian Beer Festival

  • BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival
    Galveston, Texas

    Labor Day in Galveston is all about the beach, and 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

  • Field of Beers
    Jupiter, Fla.

    As part of the larger Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival in Jupiter, Fla., this popular pre-event is a sought-after ticket. The intimate evening takes place in Roger Dean Stadium - the spring training facility of the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. Some of the best craft brewers in America are partnered with renowned Palm Beach chefs to create unforgettable beer and food pairings. The brewers are on hand to discuss their beers as the chefs reveal their process for creating the complementary dishes. It’s a one-of-a-kind event that offers the opportunity to sample great beer and food while learning more directly from the source.
    Photo courtesy of

  • Great Taste of the Midwest
    Madison, Wis.

    One of the longest-running beer events in North America, this craft beer festival brings close to 200 of the Midwest’s finest craft brewers to Madison each year. Attendees can taste more than 1,200 beers, attend beer-centric seminars, sample foods from local vendors and enjoy acoustic music, all while strolling through a beautiful park overlooking Lake Monona. As a bonus, many area restaurants offer special tastings and beer pairings in the days leading up to the fest.
    Photo courtesy of Scott R. Maurer

  • Atlantic City Beer and 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 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 and Music Festival - Atlantic City
  3. Great Taste of the Midwest - Madison, Wis.
  4. Field of Beers - Jupiter, Fla.
  5. BrewMasters Craft Beer Festival - Galveston, Texas
  6. North American Belgian Beer Festival - Westland, Mich.
  7. Tailspin Ale Fest - Louisville
  8. Belgium Comes to Cooperstown - Cooperstown, N.Y.
  9. Festival of Barrel-Aged Beers - Chicago
  10. Decatur Craft Beer Festival - Decatur, Ga.

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Ruth Berman (Bon Beer Voyage), Jack Muldowney (The Hop Review) and Ale Sharpton ( were chosen based on their extensive beer knowledge and experience.

Additional nominees for the title of Best Beer Festival included Beer Under Glass, Dark Lord Day, Extreme Beer Fest, The Festival, Fresh Hop Ale Festival, HOToberFest, Oregon Brewers Festival, SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Snallygaster and Wicked Weed Funkatorium Invitational.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winning festivals.

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Ruth Berman

Ruth Berman

Jack Muldowney

Jack Muldowney

Ale Sharpton

Ale Sharpton

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