USA TODAY - Where to find the season's best beer festivals
Where to find the season's best beer festivals USA TODAY
Philadelphia started something when it staged its first Philly Beer Week, featuring a few restaurant-bar partners and a couple hundred events. Six years later, the 2013 event (May 31-June 9) has stretched to 10 days, 250-plus participants and 1,000 or so events. Last year, it attracted 70,000 participants.
Philly may lay claim to the nation's largest beer-centric event. But it's not the longest. North Carolina has declared the entire month of April NC Beer Month to celebrate its self-proclaimed status as the South's "beer stronghold." Tours, tastings, dinners, classes and packages that include lodging are available from Asheville and the Great Smoky Mountains to Raleigh and beyond.
Where to find beer-centric events? Just about everywhere, says the Brookston Beer Bulletin's Jay Brooks, who notes there are more "official" beer weeks than weeks of the year.
Spawned by the burgeoning craft beer movement, these home-grown suds fests promote home-grown brews.
"The growth of beer festivals parallels the growth of brew pubs and microbreweries," says Paul Ruschmann, who tracks the events on his website, Beerfestivals.org. Indeed, the number of U.S. craft breweries grew 15% last year to more than 2,000, and several hundred are poised to open, he says.
Time was when most beer fests took place in summer. But they've spilled into other seasons, including spring.
Besides Philly Beer Week and North Carolina's April events, here are some other spring spots for beer lovers.
Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, April 19-27
Annapolis Beer Week, April 20-27 in Annapolis, Md.
Great International Beer Festival, April 20 in ProvidenceI.
Albuquerque Beer Week, April 25-May 4
Food & Foam Fest, April 26 in Little Rock
Great Vegas Festival of Beer, April 27 in Las Vegas
St. Louis Microfest, May 3-4 in St. Louis
Madison Craft Beer Week, May 3-12 in Madison, Wis.
Frederick Beer Week, May 11-18 in Frederick, Md.
San Antonio Beer Week, May 12-20
World Expo of Beer, May 17-18 in Frankenmuth, Mich.
Virginia Beer Festival, May 18-19 in Norfolk, Va.
American Craft Beer Fest, May 31-June 1 in Boston
Magic City Brewfest, May 31-June 1 in Birmingham, Ala.
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