At the start of a new month, it’s time to scout new beer destinations. If I had an unlimited domestic travel budget, no full-time job and guaranteed positive airport bar interactions, this would be my beer bucket list for August 2015:
Natural Selections: Wake County Science and Brewers Expo, Raleigh, N.C.: Listen up, nerds: (I count myself among that group.) If you’re interested not only in drinking beer but also the science of beer, pick up tickets for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ second annual Natural Selections beer event taking place August 21. $30 tickets ($25 for members) get you three hours of samples from a dozen-plus local breweries including Carolina Brewing Company, Lynnwood Brewing Concern, Trophy Brewing Company and more, plus discussions of fermentation and beer engineering.
Burning River Fest, Cleveland, Ohio: Back for a 14th year, Great Lakes Brewing Company’s late summer beer festival takes place Aug. 28-29 at the historic Coast Guard Station on Cleveland’s Whiskey Island. Sip on Great Lakes Burning River pale ale, Oktoberfest or a to-be-announced new summer beer, while listening to live music on two stages. Advanced tickets cost $12, or purchase them for $15 at the gate; tickets include a pre-fest yoga class atop Wendy Park near the festival’s entrance.
North American Organic Brewers Festival, Portland, Ore.: This beer festival comes with a side of education about sustainable and organic living. Expect plenty of sustainably-minded vendors and breweries at this annual festival, taking place Aug. 13-16 at Overlook Park. Participating breweries, cider houses and meaderies include Alameda Brewing, Bison Organic Beer, Eel River Brewing, Finnriver Cidery, Fort George Brewery, Hopworks Urban Brewery and more. Admission is free, but a $7 reusable, compostable cornstarch cup is required for tasting beer, as are tokens, which sell for $1 apiece. A full cup of beer costs four tokens and a four-ounce taste costs one token (select beers cost double tokens). See the NAOBF website for more information.
Angel City Avocado Festival, Los Angeles: Angelinos, I know you love your avocado. (Is it possible to get a sandwich in the city without a baseball-sized scoop of guac? Not that I’m complaining.) Avocado and beer sound like an unlikely pair, but they’re the focus of Angel City Brewing’s third annual festival, taking place Aug. 9 at the brewery. The festival includes brewery tours, games, music and the much-anticipated tapping of Avocado Ale, made with real avocados and guac-inspired ingredients like cilantro and crushed red pepper. Admission is free; beer and food will be available for purchase. Read more on the Avocado Festival website.
Ale Asylum Ferment Dissent Imperial Stout Riot & Festival, Madison, Wisc.: Ale Asylum’s Ferment Dissent Fest celebrates the release of the brewery’s two imperial stouts: Impending Dissent Belgian-style imperial stout and Impending Descent Russian imperial stout. Ticket options include bottle purchase and admission, admission, or designated driver tickets ($40 for the bomber bottle set separate from festival admission, $25 for festival admission and $10 for designated driver). Rock trio Reverend Horton Heat performs, and the brewery also pours its other beers including 2010 Bamboozleator Doppelbock, 2011 Diablo Belga, 2013 KINK Belgian-style Abbey, 2014 Pantheon Imperial Brown Ale, 2014 Sticky McDoogle Scotch Ale. Vertical tastings will be available for Tripel Nova (2010, 2011, 2013) and Mercy Grand Cru (2011, 2013, 2014).
Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, Roseland, Va.: VIP packages have already sold out, so if you have plans to attend the fourth annual all-Virginia brewers festival at Devil’s Backbone Brewpub, best to buy tickets ($35 each) now. Taking place Aug. 22, the festival revolves around the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup, a competition between more than 60 of the state’s breweries; the winner will be announced during the festival. Folks camp out in RVs and tents for the weekend, or book a stay at the brewery if they don’t plan to drive in (call for details). New this year, a Friday night preview party takes place at the brewery’s barcade and includes free play vintage pinball and aracade games with a select beers on hand for purchase.
Festival of Dankness, San Diego: Hop heads, get thee to Waterfront Park on Aug. 22 for this first-ever festival of dank, sticky, deliciously hopped beers. Organized by Modern Times Beer, the event brings together the it-kids of today’s brewing lanscape: Cigar City, Arizona Wilderness, Other Half, Tired Hands, Kern River, even New Zealand’s Garage Project and more. Tickets are $45 (and going quick; VIP options already sold out) and include unlimited 2-ounce pours.
Avery Brewing 22nd Anniversary Party, Boulder, Colo.: Where else could you find Avery’s The Czar 2007, Fortuna or Double Dry Hopped Maharaja all in one place? The Aug. 8 party also includes live music and tappings of 50-plus Avery beers you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else, including the Anniversary series dating back to Thirteen. Tickets are $40 and include six drink tickets, with additional tickets available for $2 each (one ticket is good for a 12oz pour of beers <8% ABV, an 8oz pour of beers 8-12%, and a 4oz pour of >12% and barrel-aged beers.)
21st Amendment San Leandro production brewery, San Leandro, Calif.: 21st Amendment opened the tasting room at its new production brewery at the tail end of July; an official grand opening party takes place Aug. 29. The tap room is open Thursday through Sunday, with tours taking place each hour on the hour. Ten to 12 rotating taps are available to enjoy in the indoor/outdoor tasting room, with local food trucks posted up daily until the brewery’s kitchen opens next year.
Ommegang’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, Cooperstown, N.Y.: Running since 1999, this summer event is one of the premier gatherings for Belgian beer fans. Ommegang brings together more than 100 global breweries for a weekend of beer, camping, live music and food. This year, the fun goes down Aug. 7-9, with more than 3,000 guests expected at the brewery. Camping passes already are sold out, but general admission tickets are still available for $110 each.
Sprecher Brewery’s 30th Anniversary Bash, Milwaukee, Wisc: The first Milwaukee craft brewery to open after Prohibition toasts three decades of brewing with a weekend celebration Aug. 28-29. Head to Juneau Park for live music from local and national bands (headlined by LA punk band X), plus food and Sprecher beer for purchase. Admission is free.