You can go to a beer festival almost anywhere nowadays. For bigger ones like the Great American Beer Festival (otherwise known as the GABF), you may have to travel a bit more. Still, you can usually find many beer festivals that are closer to home. Each state will typically have a beer festival that focuses on beers that are brewed locally and the breweries that make them. I'd suggest looking into when your state's beer festivals are and how you can get tickets. You'll be glad you did!
Here in Boston, there are plenty of beer festivals. I've been to the Beer Summit as well as the American Craft Beer Festival (also known as the ACBF), which are fairly popular beer fests in this city. However, when it comes to having a good time I would have to say that the best beer festivals in Boston are the ones that are organized by Drink Craft Beer.
A quick search on the internet will tell you just what Drink Craft Beer (DCB for short) is all about: "Drink Craft Beer is a community of people who enjoy craft beer; through beer tastings, beer festivals, home brewing, beer bars, brewery reviews, bar reviews, craft beer forums, craft beer reviews, guides to breweries, brewpubs, beers, bars, and news." The DCB website is full of great articles and resources related to craft beer. I stumbled upon it as I became more interested in learning about the craft beer scene, and I've gone back to it again and again whenever I want to know more about great beers.
Drink Craft Beer has become a big movement. Using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, they've built up a large following of people who are passionate about doing just what DCB's name suggests: drinking craft beer! It's that kind of passion and the way that craft beer fans have become connected that make DCB's beer festivals the best around.
The first DCB festival I attended was Springfest. It was a celebration of hops, so naturally there were a lot of hoppy beers. By now you probably know I'm not a big hop guy, but that's why beer festivals are so great: you can try as many beers as it takes to find one that you like! With 70+ different beers to try from 25 of New England's best craft brewers at Springfest, that's exactly what I did. It was truly an experience I will never forget.
DCB Summerfest was this weekend. It celebrated beers typically enjoyed during the summer, including Farmhouse Ales and Saisons. After volunteering the event, I reflected on what it is that makes the DCB festivals so unforgettable. It's not just the friendly brewers pouring unlimited samples of beer, or the fantastic food available at the festival. It's not even the amazing fest-exclusive beers (Summerfest's was "Arnie," brewed by Night Shift). What really stands out about Drink Craft Beer's festivals is the people.
The people behind Drink Craft Beer who spend so much time planning and organizing the event. The people who volunteer at the beer fests to make sure everyone enjoys themselves and things run smoothly. The people who brew the beer and pour it for others to taste. It's these people along with the love and appreciation for craft beer they all share that makes these festivals something really special. I am more than proud to be able to count myself among them.
I had the best time at Summerfest. It was great being able to help the brewers set up their booths and to give them a hand whenever one was needed. I tweeted throughout the event (and saw my tweets show up on the big screen!), tried beers I'd never had before, and met some very cool people. I even got to see what it was like to be behind the booth pouring the beer (after getting my TIPS certification, of course). Overall, it was one of the most entertaining beer festivals I have ever been to.
I'm now looking forward to the fall festival more than ever. I'd suggest attending the next beer festival in your area if you can. You'll probably discover a new beer that you love, and have a lot of fun while doing it. You might even meet your favorite brewer or people who like the same beer that you do. Take a chance. Try something new. Make some memories. Oh, and drink craft beer!