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Where to drink beer in September

A 30-tap Ballast Point takeover, NYC Brewers Guild Blocktoberfest and of course, Great American Beer Festival.

Pearl Palooza in Albany, N.Y.

Pearl Palooza in Albany, N.Y.

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 September 2015:

NYC Brewers Guild Blocktoberfest, Brooklyn: Some of the city’s favorite breweries—Gun Hill, KelSo, Finback, Grimm Artisanal Ales and others—team up for this Sept. 19 festival whose proceeds help fund NYC Beer Week 2016 (a noble cause indeed). The festivities take place at Sanders Studios in the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill neighborhood; tickets are on sale now and range from $10 (general admission, no beer) to $30 (general admission plus five 12-ounce beers) to $175 (VIP dinner and tour).

Ballast Point tap takeover at Villains, Chicago: OK, Ballast Point fans in the Windy City, you’ll want this on your calendar: South Loop restaurant Villains hosts the Midwest’s largest Ballast Point tap takeover on Sept. 10 beginning at 6 p.m. The craft beer-focused restaurant will pour 30 drafts from Ballast Point, including Nitro Sculpin, Thai Chile Wahoo, Habanero Sculpin, Victory at Sea and barrel-aged Sea Monster, each priced by the glass.

Hood River Hops Fest, Hood River, Ore.: West Coast IPA fans, get yourself to the center of the hop harvest action in downtown Hood River, where more than 40 breweries (including locals Double Mountain Brewery, Full Sail Brewing and pfriem Family Brewers) will pour more than 60 fresh hopped beers. New this year, a $50 Brewers Tent ticket gets you access to said tent, plus fifteen 3.5-ounce pours and sliders courtesy of Painted Hills Natural Beef. Other ticket options vary from $5 (general admission, no beer) to $15 (admission and five 3.5-ounce tasting pours).

Hillbilly Haiku Americana Music Festival, Bloomington, Ind.: Upland Brew Co. hosts this annual celebrate of Midwest roots music on Sept. 4, this year headlined by Larry Keel Experience. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door, with food and beer tickets available for purchase. All proceeds benefit the Sycamore Land Trust.

Bristol Brewing Freewheelin Music Fest, Colorado Springs, Colo.: The brand-new festival from Bristol Brewing debuts Sept. 11-12 with headliners Phosphorescent and Charles Bradley and is presented in conjunction with the Indy Music Awards. Tickets are $30 per day or $50 for a weekend pass, with food and beer available for purchase.

Summit Backyard Bash, St. Paul, Minn.: Summit Brewing celebrates 29 years of beer making with a daytime outdoor (duh) party on Sept. 12. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day-of (cash only), and half of the proceeds benefit the Minnesota Music Coalition. The festival will feature specialty Summit beer cask tappings throughout the day, as well as food trucks with food for purchase and a headline performance by local band The Suburbs.

Lucky Bucket Brewing Co. Oktoberfest, La Vista, Neb.: The Nebraska brewery hosts its third annual Oktoberfest on Sept. 11, complete with all the trappings: pretzels, sauerkraut, bratwurst, Lucky Bucket-branded Das Boots, a polka band and the tapping of the brewery’s own Oktoberfest beer. Tickets are available for $10 (includes admission, a miniature boot and one beer) or $5 (admission only).

312 Urban Block Party, Chicago: Goose Island hosts its annual two-day block party at its Fulton Street taproom, this year headlined by Matt & Kim and !!! (Friday night) and tUnE-yArDs and Calexico (Saturday night). Tickets are $20 for each day ($30 for a two-day pass); rare beers from the Goose barrel program and cellar will be tapped throughout the event.

Pearl Palooza, Albany, N.Y.: Shmaltz Brewing takes over Pearl Street in downtown Albany for an all-day music and beer festival Sept. 12. Admission to the street is free and includes performances by Matisyahu, The Moth & The Flame, Until the Ribbon Breaks and more. All bars along the street including Dawn’s Victory Sports Café, Legend’s Sports Bar, The Hollow Bar & Kitchen, The Merry Monk, Blue 82, The Capital American Eatery, and Pearl Street Pub will pour four Shmaltz beers on tap throughout the festival.

And of course…Great American Beer Festival, Denver, Colo.: The biggest beer festival of the year takes over the Mile High City from Sept. 24-26. Look for DRAFT’s booth, beer tasting stations and photographers throughout the week—and say hi!


Kate Bernot is DRAFT’s beer editor. Reach her at kate.bernot[at]

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