Munich’s Oktoberfest gets the lion’s share of attention when it comes to beer festivals. That’s not to say the attention isn’t merited; Oktoberfest is a longstanding tradition in Bavaria, attended by millions of revelers each year.
But it’s not the only beer festival on the planet. If you’re a hop head, the world is your oyster. There are thousands of beer fests worldwide, each with its own distinct history, beer lineup, and local charm.
6 Beer Festivals That Are Not in Germany
If you’re the kind of person whose idea of an ideal vacation involves raising a mug of straw-colored suds among friends and strangers, this article is for you. Below, let’s explore six beer worldwide beer festivals that should be on your bucket list (or pint glass list), as well as how to pack for your grand beer adventure.
But first, a quick guide on packing for that beer fest like a pro.
Packing for a Beer Festival
In part, packing for a beer festival is like packing for any other destination: research the weather ahead of time, then choose clothing and skincare products accordingly.
Beer festivals require a little bit of extra attention. To start, they usually occur in the fall, a famously fickle season prone to hot and cold days.
Secondly, beer festivals straddle a line between casual and socially demanding (you want to feel your best, but you also want to look your best when meeting new people).
Finally, these outdoor festivals are no stranger to rain.
You need clothing appropriate for a range of temperatures, clothing that looks sophisticated but feels comfortable, and, ideally, clothing that dries quickly.
Your best bet is to pack high-performance travel apparel made of merino wool, which is soft, sleek, quick-drying, and stands up to temperature extremes. You might also consider packing sunscreen, a collapsible water bottle for hydration, and a few electrolyte tablets (in case of potential hangovers).
Now, without further ado, let’s look at six of the finest international beer festivals.
Qingdao, China Beer Festival
Qingdao is a gem in its own right: a seaside city in the Shandong province famous for its blend of German architecture and traditional Chinese architecture. At one time, Germans held the city, and their legacy can be felt every year at the Qingdao Beer Festival.
Here, you’ll find the city’s namesake brew (Romanized as “Tsingtao”), as well as several other Chinese and International beers. To soak up the suds, try local dishes like wok-fried clams in chilies and pork and cabbage buns.
Tucked away in Canada’s southwestern-most corner is Vancouver Island, a gorgeous mix of lush forest and stunning coastline. The island’s biggest city, Victoria, hosts an annual beer festival featuring a mix of local beers (the island is home to many breweries) and national favorites from places like Quebec and Ontario.
When you finish sampling the brews on offer, take a stroll around the charming downtown area, including the city’s Inner Harbour area, where you’ll find the ornate parliament buildings and ivy-covered, colonial Empress Hotel.
Belgium knows its beer. Several ales from Belgium routinely rank as the best in the world, according to experts and connoisseurs. The best way to enjoy these world-renowned beverages is to visit the capital city of Brussels during the first week of September.
A word of warning: Belgian Ales are often higher in alcohol than standard beers (sometimes reaching the double-digit percentages), so exercise moderation. If you want to start the festival on a full stomach, grab a paper tray of famous Belgian French fries or an equally famous Belgian waffle.
Portland’s beer scene exploded in the last twenty years, and the city is now home to over 70 breweries (one of the highest per capita in America).
Thankfully, each of those breweries has the chance to strut their stuff every July during the Oregon Brewers Festival. Can’t make July work? Don’t worry: the city hosts beer festivals every month of the year.
If you want to escape the crowds after a while, visit Washington Park, the Portland Japanese Garden, or the International Rose Test Garden.
Britons take their beer seriously, so much so that they created the Campaign for Real Ale (or CAMRA) to preserve the integrity of the UK’s favorite after-work beverage.
Every year, the CAMRA organization hosts the Great British Beer Festival, a celebration of local ales, ciders, and perries. For the past several years, organizers have held the event at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in West Kensington.
It’s a little ways from where most travelers stay in Downtown London, but easily reachable on the Tube.
Lastly, let’s travel to Brazil. Anywhere with a historically German presence throws a mean beer festival, and Blumenau is no exception.
Midway between Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo, Blumenau is a relatively sleepy city most of the year. But it comes alive every October for the Blumenau Oktoberfest.
Come for the beer, but stay for the distinctly Brazilian after parties (bring your dancing shoes!).
If you’re planning on taking a trip and you like beer, why not try one of the above beer festivals this year? You’ll get to explore a new destination while having the time of your life eating and drinking until your belly bursts.