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6 bucket-list beer festivals

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Party at beer festivals that give patrons more than just a hangover. At these six smart brew festivals, tasting is only part of the fun. –Christina Couch

Belgium Comes to Cooperstown | Cooperstown, N.Y.

More than 70 breweries and 3,500 guests gather to salute all brews Belgian (and Belgian-style) at this weekend beer camping fest held on Brewery Ommegang’s grounds. After hours of live music, cooking competitions and tasting specialty batches like Brasserie Dupont’s hop-free Posca Rustica gruit, connoisseurs head back to their tents to swap homebrew tips long into the night.

Craft Lager and Small Batch Festival | Manitou Springs, Colo.

This lager-friendly fest aims to do more than just prove that small breweries make good lagers, too: In addition to showcasing more than 170 small batch lagers, seasonals and spirits from breweries you’ve never heard of, this nonprofit fest also maintains a strong environmental slant with all proceeds benefitting local parks, community garden and open spaces projects.

Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival | Galveston, Texas

With more than 400 craft breweries representing, this isn’t just the biggest beer festival in the Lone Star State; it’s also the most educational. Brewmasters’ guests get the first taste of more than 15 beers—last year’s collection ranged from Karbach’s Cherry Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter to a smoked alt from Cedar Creek—as well as seminars on topics like the cans-versus-bottles debate and “Popularity of Ciders and the Distinctiveness of Crispin and Fox Barrel.”

Oak Park Micro Brew Review | Oak Park, Ill.

Even more impressive than the 50-plus microbreweries that show is the event’s “Replicale” competition, which challenges more than 15 beer makers to create the same beer style using different techniques. Patrons can taste the differences each method makes and enjoy organic munchies, craft tastings and beer pairings.

SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience | New York/D.C.

The roughly 75 craft breweries that attend SAVOR meet their match when their liquid wares get paired with fare from equally high-caliber chefs and artisan food purveyors. Educational salons on rare brews, how to marry beer and meals and brewery history abound, and attendees score the annual collaboration beer created just for the event.

North American Organic Brewers Festival | Portland

Drink without guilt at this homage to sustainable imbibing. Running on biodiesel and solar power, this earth-friendly fete features more than 50 organic beers of all styles and flavors, environmentally conscious vendors and a recycling program that kept nearly 2,000 pounds of waste out of landfills last year alone.

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