We love trying new beers at home, it's our bread and butter, although if you're a real beer fan, a beer festival is a must. Meet your beery heroes, sample new (and unreleased) beers and discover your new favourite brews. 

Both microbreweries and big brands attend these events, so even if you haven't tried more than a humble ale, you'll still be able to enjoy any festival. As a bonus, they're usually packed with great food and entertainment, too.

Find out our top beer festival picks below and discover where the nearest festival is to you on this handy calendar.

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What is a beer festival? 

You might be thinking that most festivals or events serve beer, so what makes a festival a beer festival? Stricly speaking, a beer festival is any event at which you purchase a ticket to drink a variety of beers. This includes anything from a general beer festival, which allows any brewery to be there, to craft-only events. 

What makes a good beer festival?

Here's what to look out for when choosing which beer festival to go to (and why you should go): 

New beers are often introduced at beer festivals

If your favourite brewery is attending, chances are they are bringing something magical with them that you haven't tasted before.

A wide range of breweries

Smaller breweries often attend festivals to get the attention of those passionate about their beer. It's much easier than doing an elaborate marketing campaign. So, if you are looking to broaden your horizons, beer festivals will help you find what you are looking for.

You might get to meet (and learn from) your beery heroes

Many beer festivals offer masterclasses with master brewers. Do your research, as festivals publish this list in advance.

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Beer festivals in the UK

Of course, listing every beer festival in England is pretty challenging as there are way too many. If you wanted to go to one every day, you easily could. So, we've picked out our personal favourites that are simply too good to miss.

London Craft Beer Festival

9th -11th August, 2024 | Tobacco Dock, London

The London Craft Beer Festival is a celebration of independent and innovative craft breweries. It offers a whole range of craft beers, live music, and delicious food. It's a must-attend for beer enthusiasts seeking unique flavours and a bustling inner-city atmosphere.

Cotswold Beer Festival

19th - 21st July, 2024 | The Cotswolds

For those living outside big cities or looking for a scenic escape, this might be what you are looking for. This region is full of quaint country pubs, historic breweries and some great new creations - so keep your eye on this festival to see if you could have an educational (and delicious) getaway!

Manchester Craft Beer Festival

5th - 6th July, 2024 | The Depot Mayfield, Manchester

For those that love all-inclusive deals, this beer festival was made for you. Your ticket includes unlimited beer - you are handed a beer glass that doubles as a souvenir, and you are set loose on 500+ beers to try.

Bristol Craft Beer Festival

7th-8th June, 2024 | Harbourside, Bristol

In the vibrant city of Bristol, this festival showcases a diverse range of craft beers, including unique collaborations and rare releases. The Bristol Craft Beer Festival is not just about beer; it's a celebration of creativity, community, and the evolving world of craft brewing.

Craft Beer Expo

6th-8th June, 2024 | Black Lodge Brewery, Liverpool

The Craft Beer Expo is an yearly event that highlights the best in modern brewing. With a focus on innovation and quality, it offers attendees the chance to sample a variety of craft beers while enjoying live DJs and top-notch street food.

Note that event details are subject to change. It's always best to check the respective festival websites for the most up-to-date information.

Oh, and don't forget to pace yourself. Drink lots of water, enjoy great food and take note of the ABV of some beers (they might be stronger than you think!). 

Tasting beer at festivals

It might seem daunting to see all the different stalls of breweries and brands, but honestly it's pretty easy. Individual breweries will either have their own stands, or there'll be 'group bars' that host a variety of brews from a certain region or style. 

Most festivals work on a token basis, so you buy a set amount of tokens to exchange for food & drinks. Smaller festivals might work differently, like operating on a flat entry fee for drinks with food paid for seperately.

Just go up, say hi, ask for a pint, and enjoy!

Do I have to spit out beer after tasting?

Unlike wine tasting, we never spit out beer. When you're tasting beer, the goal is to experience the full range of flavours, aromas, and mouthfeel. Swallowing the beer allows you to fully appreciate its finish and aftertaste.