The Best Beer Festivals in the World

The ancient Egpytians referred to beer as 'liquid bread', and it's certainly as nourishing for the soul as the latter is for the body. Whether it be lager, ale, stout, or bitter, beer can accompany any circumstance, be it refreshing beverage on a hot summer's day, a comforting drink in a cosy pub in the winter, or simply something to pick you up after a week of work.

There is no shortage of celebrations in honour of this wonderful, life giving substance. Thankfully us here at Wikifestivals have written this guide to help you navigate the options to find what is right for you.

Oktoberfest

Probably the most famous one on this list, Oktoberfest has a well earned reputation. The Munich-based festival actually starts, despite what the name might suggest, at the end of September. It began as the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Loudwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen; thankfully for us the event, proved to be such a success that it was repeated the following year and became an annual tradition. Nowadays Oktoberfest, a two week affair that goes on until the first Sunday of October, draws millions of people across the globe. The festivities take place in a number of enormous pavilions, where special Oktoberfest beer is served. Oktoberfest beer has to be brewed within the boundaries of the city of Munich and has to have a minimum of 6% alcohol by volume. Germans attending the festival will often wear traditional dress such as Lederhosen (for men) or Dirndl (for women). If you attend make sure that you pace yourself, unless you want to become a Bierleichen (a beer-corpse, as passed out patrons who have had too much to drink are known).

Great British Beer Festival

The British have always been a people of beer drinkers; just think of how central the pub is in our collective imagination. The cheeky pint during lunch or after work is as British as tea. Sure, now we largely drink lager, but there is a glorious tradition of bitters, ales, and more generally craft beers. The Great British Beer Festival is held every year in London, in August. Tickets start at £8 and patrons have the chance to try over 800 beers. Other events include live music, book signings, and a pub quiz!

Belgian Beer Weekend

More than just dreary EU bureaucrats, Belgium can also boast of some of the best beers in the world. Conveniently scheduled during the Bank holiday weekend, this is a festival for connoisseurs. There is a wide range of beers, with increasingly arcane subcategories: low fermentation, high fermentation, fruit beer, regional beers, pils, the list goes on. The brewer's parade, in traditional costume, is not to be missed.

Great American Beer Festival

American beer has a bad reputation. Natty light, Budweiser, Paps Blue Ribbon, they are not known for their rich or complex flavours, but rather how easily you can chug them while playing beer pong in the frat room. So you could be excused if you didn't know that the United States are currently undergoing a beer renaissance. Micro-brews, small craft beers made in small breweries with locally sourced ingredients, are blowing up. For you beer lovers this means a dizzying array of new beers to try. If this intrigues you, head to the beautiful slopes of snowy Denver, in Colorado. The festival also has a competition, as well as "extra-curricular" activities like a silent disco and a food pavilion.

Qingdao Beer Festival

If you are looking for something off the beaten track then the Qingdao Beer Festival is the thing for you. Qingdao is located on the Eastern coast of China, not far from Korea. The city holds an annual beer festival on the second week of August. Those attending are mainly Chinese, and reportedly foreigners who show up are treated like honoured guests, and showered with beer. There are live musical performances, with traditional and pop Chinese music. If you go be prepared to be told Gang bei!, or 'Bottoms up!'