These are the British craft beer festivals you won’t want to miss this year
Beer festivals are a great way to discover the latest offerings from some of the most exciting breweries from across the UK and overseas. It’s also a chance to sample a variety of beer styles, try something new and meet the brewers behind your favourite drinks.
And the best beer festivals these days offer more than just rows of ale casks, you should also expect plenty of kegs, cans and bottles. It doesn’t stop with the beer either, with many serving up cider, gin, spirits and cocktails, alongside sumptuous street food stalls, vibrant entertainment, live music and DJs, all adding to the eclectic festival atmosphere.
Here’s our guide to some of the best craft beer festivals to attend across the UK. Be sure to add these essential festival dates to your calendar for 2019.
Craft Beer Rising – London
21-23 February 2019
Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane
More than 150 breweries from around the world will descend on the iconic Old Truman Brewery in vibrant East London. One of the biggest craft beer events on the calendar, it is where many of the most exciting and adventurous beer brands will showcase their new offerings. World class DJs each evening add to the festival atmosphere, with appearances lined up this year from the likes of Don Letts, Zero 7 and the Cuban Brothers.
There will also be more street food than even before to tuck into alongside tour craft beers, in the new ‘Fox’s Den’ food market area.
TAPS – Birmingham
29-30 March 2019
Custard Factory, Digbeth
The team behind Craft Beer Rising join forces with award-winning Brummie street food adventurers Digbeth Dining Club to bring this craft beer and food festival to Birmingham for a second time.
Expect a host of local, national and international beers, alongside delicious grub and cutting edge DJs, spread across two days in Birmingham’s iconic Custard Factory.
We Are Lager – Manchester
4-7 April 2019
Lager might not have a great rep in the IPA-dominated world of craft beer. But this new festival in Manchester is aiming to change perceptions and showcase the range and variety of top quality and tasty lagers.
We Are Lager takes place across four days in Deansgate, with the ethos of ‘Drink Better Lager’. It is described as the biggest dedicated lager festival in the UK and will feature breweries such as Cloudwater, Moor Beer, Lost & Grounded and Lucky Saint, as well as global lager brands such as Budweiser Budvar and Paulaner.
Music comes from Manchester clubbing mainstays Funkademia.
Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival
24-25 May 2019
The Biscuit Factory, Anderson Place, Edinburgh
This is a beer festival with a difference as all your beer is included with the price of the ticket. So no more scrabbling around for loose change to spend on beer or worrying about how much you’ve spent.
Tickets range from £40 (early bird) to £65 (VIP) per session, while you can also get entry to all three sessions for £100. The price includes access to all tasting areas, a glass, – a custom-designed programme and – we’ll say it again – all your beers (up to six pints in total per person).
Breweries announced so far include 6th North, The Kernel, Cloudwater, Northern Monk, Wylam and Wild Beer Co.
There will also be top notch food stalls to keep you going (grub is not included in the ticket, you’ll have to stick your hand in your pocket for that), plus live music. Previous acts to perform have included Young Fathers, Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai and Two Door Cinema Club, so expect something similarly high quality from Scotland’s cutting edge music scene.
Belfast Craft Beer Festival
31 May-1 June 2019
Custom House Square Belfast
There will be more than 200 Irish craft beers to choose from in Belfast, alongside an impressive gin garden. This largely alfresco beer festival takes place in and around a variety of tents and stalls in Custom House Square, right in the heart of the city.
Includes food stalls and live music, alongside the tantalising selection of Irish drinks.
Bristol Craft Beer Festival
7-8 June 2019
Bristol Craft Beer Festival is brought to you by the same team behind Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival, with your ticket price also including all your beers, as well as entry, a glass and a programme.
Bristol’s best craft breweries will be in attendance, including Moor, Wiper & True and Bristol Beer Factory. Other national and international names confirmed so far include Gipsy Hill, Arbor Ales, Basqueland Brewing Project, Sierra Nevada and Wylam.
The festival takes place at Bristol’s impressive Harbourside and will also feature cutting edge music. Previous years have seen performances from the likes of Metronomy and DJ Yoda.
Liverpool Craft Beer Expo
27-30 June 2019
Invisible Wind Factory, Regent Road
The 7th instalment of Liverpool Craft Beer Expo reruns to the intriguingly named Invisible Wind Factory (a cavernous arts centre in a former factory near the docks) in 2019, having firmly established itself as one of the essential industry events.
This large-scale festival prides itself on presenting “groundbreaking and innovative” breweries from across the UK, Europe and around the world.
Sessions take place across four days, with evening sessions on the Thursday and Friday, two sessions on Saturday, then an afternoon session to close the festival on the Sunday.
Tickets start from £10.50.
Great British Beer Festival – London
6-10 August 2019
Olympia Exhibition Centre, West Kensington
CAMRA’s flagship beer festival offers a huge selection of real ales and craft beers and has been pouring pints for more than 40 years. Taking over a huge space in London’s iconic Olympia Exhibition Centre, expect nearly 1,000 beers, ciders, perries and more to choose from.
It features plenty of traditional real ale favourites, such as St Austell, Fuller’s and Greene King, but still has a distinctly modern feel with a strong showing of newer craft breweries. Last year’s festival also saw a good selection of vegan-friendly beers and non-alcoholic beers.
Keep an eye out for ticket details, with a variety of options for sessions across the five days of the festival.
Craft Beer Calling – Newcastle
24-26 October 2019
Wylam Brewery, Palace of Arts, Exhibition Park
A beer festival full to the brim with Geordie party spirit. Run at the home of Newcastle’s pioneering craft brewery Wylam, they invite other breweries from across the country to run their own bars. It means you get to sample a wide variety of innovative beers and meet the people who make them.
You can also expect the return of the Gin Palace, Cider Cellar and a tasty selection of street food, all set to a feel-good soundtrack of live music and DJs.
Tickets start from £9 for a day session, or you can get a weekend pass for £30, giving you entry on all four days at any session you fancy.
Leeds International Beer Festival
5-8 September 2019
Leeds Town Hall, The Headrow
As the name suggests, there is an international feel to this lovely four-day festival in the heart of Leeds. The annual event celebrates plenty of local breweries, as well as an impressive array of craft beer from around the world.
Now in its 8th year, this is a relative experienced head in a world of craft beer festival upstarts. But all that experience helps attract exciting beer brands such as Brew by Numbers, Gipsy Hill, Kirkstall, Basqueland, Lervig, Yeastie Boys and more. The festival site is split into regional sections, allowing you to go on a world tour and sample beer from different countries.
Three stages of live music, plus a street food market, keep things buzzing throughout the weekend. Sunday is family day so children will be entertained while you sample the various brews on offer.
3-6 October 2019
Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road
This is among the hippest of the hip when it comes to craft beer festivals. Now a mainstay on the calendar for craft beer enthusiasts around the country, it has played an important role in helping gain some early exposure for what have become some of the biggest names in craft beer, such as Beavertown,
Fiercely independent, expect exciting and adventurous breweries from around the country. Last year’s lineup included the likes of Buxton, Burning Soul, Left Handed Giant, Magic Rock, Track, Verdant and Wild Beer.
Tickets for the Friday and Saturday sessions tend to fly off the shelves as soon as they’re released, so keep tabs on @indymanbeercon for on-sale dates. You can also sign up to the Fussy Beer newsletter and we’ll send you all the ticket details when they’re announced, plus a timely reminder to get your tickets when they go on sale.