Beer fever takes hold, sprouting beer festivals all over Europe

Beer Festivals in Europe
© Mikkeller

As the beer industry registers more and more new breweries, the number of beer festivals taking place throughout Europe is on the rise. Here is the low-down from drinktec on six of the most interesting events welcoming visitors from all over the world.

Beer festivals showcasing dozens of breweries of all sizes are now being held in Italy, Denmark, Hungary, Finland and pretty much every other European country for that matter. Now, most small breweries don’t have the funds to launch widespread advertising campaigns, so these events also function as marketing tools to interact with existing customers and to win over some new ones.

What’s more, they’re the perfect spaces for the entire international scene to come together, including brewery managers, retailers and store managers. Visitors not only get to meet the sales managers at the stands, but also get to talk to all of the brewing wizards themselves. Allowing consumers to peak into their worlds like this, the appeal and transparency of their brands and beers increases.

Beer festival 1: “Beer Craft” in Bolzano, Italy

South Tyrol, more famous as a wine region, has developed a real beer fever with a dynamic scene over the last few years. In fact, “Beer Craft,” a festival in Bolzano featuring extremely creative brews, will celebrate its fifth anniversary next year. For 2019, the festival took place at Maretsch Castle, encircled by grapevines and the peaks of the Dolomites. The castle’s old ruins had a stunning effect, as rooms, balconies and frescoes from the Renaissance transformed the beer event into a particularly special event. The festival’s main goals are to bolster networking in the Italian craft-beer scene and to raise the profile of creative brews.

“Beer Craft” in Bolzano, Italy
© Beer Craft – International Craft Beer Meeting

More than 40 breweries from Italy, Germany and Austria attend “Beer Craft” every year, but specialty beers from Belgium and the U.S., for example, are also served. And as if that wasn’t enough, there is even a food-pairing area to excite visitors’ taste buds, where international beers are matched with hand-made foods from South Tyrol over the course of the festival.

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Beer festival 2: “Mikkeller Beer Celebration” in Copenhagen, Denmark

Next year, the ninth “Mikkeller Beer Celebration” will take place, which is deemed by beer geeks the world over to be a top-notch, can’t miss event. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the festival’s organizer and the head of Mikkeller, launched the event in 2012 with just 23 breweries. This year’s festival brought together 100 of the world’s best craft-beer breweries in the Øksnehallen exhibition space, located in the Vesterbro district of Copenhagen. Some major stars of the craft-beer scene were in attendance, including Firestone Walker from California, Other Half Brewing from New York and Zagovor Brewery from Moscow.

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Beer festival 3: “Craft Beer Festival Cologne” in Cologne, Germany

Debuting this year in the city of Cologne, “Craft Beer Festival Cologne” featured 60 national and international breweries. Around 4,000 beer lovers attended the event held during the last weekend in May in the Stadthalle conference center in the Mühlheim district. In total, 350 beers from Germany, Scotland, Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Italy and Denmark were available to try. However, the organizers decided to focus on Poland above all other countries, as it is currently rising through the ranks of beer-loving nations. Alongside Kölsch, Altbier, India Pale Ale and Stout, the festival also showcased some unusual specialty beers.

For example, Michael Roeßgen, from “Craft Beer Creations Cologne,” is well-known for reviving historical beer styles. As such, the Cologne-based style called “Knupp,” which dates back to the Middle Ages and has enjoyed a revival thanks to Roeßgen, was served at the festival. A few hobby brewers also showcased their special brews.

In total, 350 beers from Germany, Scotland, Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Italy and Denmark were available to try.

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Beer festival 4: “Budapest Beer Week” in Budapest, Hungary

“Budapest Beer Week” in Budapest, Hungary
© Budapest Beer Week

This year, Budapest once again played host to beer fans sampling an international variety of brews from around 50 creative breweries including some from New Zealand, Russia, Romania and Croatia. The addition of live music ensured the party was always in full swing. Though exciting specialty beers were flowing not only at the festival venue itself, but also at various events scattered across the city. After a day at the festival, anyone still thirsty for more could continue the fun at one of the after-show parties featuring local underground bands and live DJs. There was of course a wide range of international beers available as well.

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Beer festival 5: “Craft Beer Helsinki” in Helsinki, Finland

In the Helsinki Railway Station Square directly opposite the renowned Ateneum Art Museum, more than 30 craft-beer brewers recently set up their stalls again for visitors to come and sample their beers. Brewers from Spain, Scotland and the U.S. showcased their specialty beers in the Finnish capital, though most of the exhibitors were from Finland. Perhaps most interestingly, guests from all over the world were treated to beers with ingredients sourced from the Finnish woods and meadows, as well as the age-old beer style known as “Sahti.” Food trucks serving up Finnish fare were also on hand to line drinkers’ stomachs.

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Beer festival 6: “Home & Craft by drinktec” in Stralsund, Germany

The second “Home & Craft by drinktec” will be held on September 12 and 13 in Stralsund, featuring everything a hobby brewer could possibly need. The Störtebeker brewery will host 30 companies showcasing products targeted at home brewers and microbreweries. At the same time, and for the third time, the Störtebeker team will crown the nation’s best home brewer.

Attendees of this hobby brewer festival will get to try some extremely unusual beers and, as part of the supporting program, listen to presentations on home brewing.

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Home & Craft by drinktec” in Stralsund, Germany
© Störtebeker Braumanufaktur

Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).