At the start of the new month, we dive into the beer events, festivals and happenings across the country, and surprisingly find way more to do in chilly, dreary February than we expected. Here’s what you need to put on your calendar for February 2016:
NYC Beer Week, New York City: From Feb. 19-28, 23 of the NYC Brewers Guild member breweries throw more than 400 events across 250 city locations…just try and NOT find an event going on in a ‘hood near you. The week kicks off with a beer cruise on Feb. 20 and winds down with the Cask Fest and Awards Gala on Feb. 27. See the very full schedule of events here.
Steel String Brewery’s Sour Barn Bash, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Scenic Rock Quarry Farm provides the backdrop for Feb. 6’s afternoon of unlimited tastings of sour and barrel-aged beers from Tarheel breweries including Haw River Farmhouse Ales, Wooden Robot Brewery, Fonta Flora, Wicked Weed Brewing and D.C.’s Bluejacket, among others. Catered food is also provided, and proceeds benefit Benevolence Farm. Tickets are $75 for general admission, $100 for VIP and are available online.
Zwickelmania, locations throughout Oregon: More than 120 Oregon breweries across 30 cities open their doors on the afternoon of Feb. 13 for the eighth annual Zwickelmania, which includes tours, tastings and (new this year) pop-up chocolate tastings at select Portland-area breweries. Last year, more than 32,500 people toured 115 participating breweries, and the number is expected to be even greater this year. For more info, see the Zwickelmania website.
Forbidden Root brewpub opening, Chicago: Chicagoans have seemingly been waiting years (oh, sorry, they actually have been waiting years) for Forbidden Root to clear the licensing hurdles to open a brewpub in the West Town neighborhood. On Feb. 18, the brewery opens its brewpub doors, serving rustic American food that complements its botanically based beers. More details at Forbidden Root’s Facebook page.
Fort George Brewery’s Stout Month, Astoria, Oregon: Tickets for the brewery’s massive Festival of Dark Arts are already sold out, but the stout goodness flows all month in the brewery’s taproom. A new stout taps each Monday (try Long Dark Winter Milk Stout beginning Feb. 1, or Almond Milk Stout beginning Feb. 15, among many others), and blind taster trays are available in the pub throughout February.
Minnesota Brewer’s Guild Winterfest, St. Paul, Minnesota: It’s February and it’s Minnesota, so expect lots of winter warmers at this two-night festival attended by 80-plus guild member breweries Feb.26-27. A $135 two-night ticket or $75 one-night ticket includes unlimited samples, food and live music, all taking place at St. Paul’s Union Depot. Stick around until the end of the night, when the Best of Fest winners receive the Great Snowshoe Award. Tickets and info at the Winterfest website.
Arizona Strong Beer Festival, Phoenix: The 16th annual festival of big beers (which kicks off Arizona Beer Week) goes down outdoors at Steele Indian School Park on Feb. 13, and this year includes more than 120 breweries pouring 450-plus beers. General admission tickets are $48.24 and include 40 tasting pours; VIP tickets are $79.74 and are available on a waiting-list basis; more information here. (DRAFT editors will attend the festival, so say hello if you spot us.)
Oskar Blues Southern Hemisphere Hops Fest, Denver: Oh, it is not enough to have a hops festival. No, no. These days, with seemingly endless hop varieties, a festival can be entirely dedicated to one region. The first ever Oskar Blues celebration of all Southern hemisphere hops takes place Feb. 27 at Stoney’s Bar and Grill in downtown Denver, and includes beers featuring these hops from more than 20 breweries. General admission tickets are $35; VIP tickets are $55; proceeds benefit the Oskar Blues CAN’d Aid Foundation. Stay up to date via the festival’s Facebook page.
Blue Owl Sour Mash Homebrew Class, Austin, Texas: Curious to try your hand at brewing quick sour beers at home? Learn from the pros at Blue Owl Brewing (specifically brewer Davy Pasternak) during this two-hour class on Feb. 28, which includes four Blue Owl beers and a take-home glass. Attendance costs $30; RSVP here.
Love Thy Beer Winter Warmer Showcase, Silver Spring, Maryland: Part of Maryland’s FeBREWary craft beer lover’s month, this Feb. 12 event brings together nearly 20 of the state’s breweries, large and small, including Antietam Brewery, DuClaw Brewing Company, Heavy Seas Beer, Jailbreak Brewing Company and more for a night of Maryland beers, live music and light barbecue bites provided by Mission BBQ. General admission tickets are $69.57; VIP admission is $85.39 and tickets are available here.
Lucky Bucket Brewing Winter Bash, La Vista, Nebraska: On Feb. 5, Lucky Bucket Brewing celebrates…winter?…with $3 beers and cocktails, live music and raffles; the first 300 attendees get a take-home glass. No cover, just show up.
Uppers & Downers: A Festival of Coffee Beers, Chicago: Good Beer Hunting and Intelligentsia Coffee team up for this annual festival at Thalia Hall on Feb. 20. Expect 28 beers from 20 breweries including Perennial Artisan Ales, Solemn Oath Brewery, Metropolitan Brewing and more, plus fresh coffee collaborations, a multi-roaster express bar, a La Marzocco station, educational presentations, brewer case studies and more. If you’re a serious coffee wonk, be there or be undercaffeinated. Tickets are $55 and are available online.
Beachwood Brewery’s Pliny Fights Cancer Raffle, Beachwood locations in Seal Beach and Long Beach, California: Beachwood Brewery’s locations are some of the few spots you can enjoy the once-yearly draft release of Pliny the Younger, Russian River’s outstanding imperial IPA. Instead of throwing open the doors and letting the rabid masses at the kegs, Beachwood raffles off the chance to try this beer. From now through Feb. 20, visit either location to purchase $5 tickets (cash only) which benefit the Melanoma Research Foundation. If you’re one of the 130 winners, redeem your pint of Pliny between Feb. 23 and March 3. Details here.
Burial Beer Co. Mardi Gras, Asheville, North Carolina: From Feb. 7-9, New Orleans comes to Asheville at Burial Beer’s taproom, which hosts a Sunday post-Mardi Gras parade celebration (with Praline Pecan Porter, of course); a Monday night release of bourbon-barrel aged Mint Julep Blonde Ale plus a community potluck; and a Fat Tuesday beer and food celebration with po’ boys and live funk music. Details at Burial Beer’s website.
Right Brain Brewing Collaboration Day, Traverse City, Michigan: The second annual Collaboration Day sees Right Brain brewers team up with other Midwest breweries, wineries and distilleries to create such beers as a peanut butter-bacon beer, a Belgian dubbel aged in port barrels, bourbon barrel-aged beers, an ale brewed with toffee and maple syrup, a Belgian saison blended with hard cider and more. Check out the results of their work (available only at the brewery) Feb. 12-13. See Right Brain’s website for more info.