As the year draws to a close, it would ordinarily be a great time to take a look back at some of the best beer festivals of 2020 from around the world. However, this year, many national and international festivals were canceled, so perhaps it’s better to take a broader look at what we can learn from festivals of the past and look forward to 2021 international beer festivals.
What exactly is a Beer Festival?
Let’s begin by considering what exactly such a festival entails. By definition, a beer festival is a social event where attendees can sample various new brews and make purchases. Many events are themed and are routinely attended by bar owners as well as beer-lovers and brewing hobbyists. For example, many countries have festivals in the winter months designed to showcase the year’s winter ales. Throughout the seasons, new brewing styles and technology often get a showcase. Many of the most attended events are in European countries, including Germany, Demark, and the United Kingdom.
Perhaps one of the best things about beer festivals is that bulk buyers get to try before they buy. Also, brewing enthusiasts learn about new brewing styles and share tricks and tips of the trade. With local specialist brews becoming more popular as the years progress, the beer industry as a whole is now seeing profits and clientele similar to those in the wine industry. Beer is no longer seen as a common drink and is now held in high esteem by the critics. With should a wide variety of beverages in the marketplace, consumers have naturally become more discerning. No longer is a basic brew enough for the palates of many.
Today’s beer drinkers want to know the history of the ingredients and the story behind the brew. Vegan beers, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular as more people become concerned about animal welfare. Many beer lovers were previously unaware that some beverages are filtered through fish bladders. While many beer drinkers have no affinity for a vegan lifestyle, they often appreciate learning more about the production process.
What are the types of Beer Festivals?
Beer festivals around the world are typically grouped into their different continents. Some of the most popular annual festivals in Asia include the Great Japan Beer Festival, Lan Kwai Fong Music and Beer Fest, Tbilisi Beer Fest, Shanghai International Beer Festival, and Qingdao International Beer Festival, which takes place in China.
When it comes to beer festivals in Europe, Germany-based events dominate the field and attract visitors from all European countries and enthusiasts from further afield. German beer festivals welcome multiple international tourists, making repeat visits each year to sample the latest German brewing developments.
The world’s largest beer festival is Oktoberfest, which occurs every year in the country and is in some ways more of a folk festival. However, it remains a key attraction. Germany’s second-largest beer festival is the Cannstatter Volksfest. The festival is very similar to Oktoberfest but takes place a week later. It has numerous international visitors and is always a big hit.
In terms of other European best festivals, those in the UK are arguably the next most popular. The Reading Beer Festival in 2009, for example, enjoyed a large number of visitors from around the world. However, the difference in the UK is that many British festivals center around draught real ale as opposed to bottled ciders and beers. In recent years, however, bottled specialty beer has become increasingly popular in the UK. Many British consumers are now open to paying premium prices for bottled brews to enjoy at home.
Belgium is another European country that holds a lot of beer festivals. Some of their most popular include the BAB-bierfestival, Karakterbieren Festival, and Essen’s Christmas beer festival. Other countries across the continent also hold a wide range of events for beer lovers worldwide.
Beer Festivals in United States
In the United States, the Great American Beer Festival is something everyone looks forward to. It is held in the Colorado city of Dever each year and began in 1982. In 2008, the event attracted over 46,000 people and featured beers from 477 breweries.
Another popular festival in the USA is The Oregon Brewers Festival. The event began in 1988 and takes place in July each year. In 2014, the event drew over 85,000 people to Portland. Meanwhile, in Providence in Rhode Island, the Great International Beer Festival is held twice a year.
Annual beer festivals are held in almost every country in the world. While those in countries such as Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil might not receive as much press coverage in the western world, they remain popular and are increasing in success each year as more international tourists discover their existence. For many tourists, the joy of visiting international festivals is in learning about ancient brewing techniques. For many beer enthusiasts, 2021 can’t come soon enough. With many of the best beer festivals of 2020 canceled, everyone is waiting to see what unfolds in the coming year. Hopefully, the industry’s events will see even more success than they have enjoyed in 2017, 2018, and 2019. For many, the embracement of more specialty bottled beers is something to watch out for and the introduction of more exotic fruits to flavored beers. Some people are also predicting a new way of alcohol-free beverages and lite beers that don’t comprise flavor.