Philadelphia started something when it staged its first Philly Beer Week, featuring a few restaurant-bar partners and a couple hundred events. Six years later, the 2013 event (May 31-June 9) has stretched to 10 days, 250-plus participants and 1,000 or so events. Last year, it attracted 70,000 participants.
Philly may lay claim to the nation’s largest beer-centric event. But it’s not the longest. North Carolina has declared the entire month of April NC Beer Month to celebrate its self-proclaimed status as the South’s “beer stronghold.” Tours, tastings, dinners, classes and packages that include lodging are available from Asheville and the Great Smoky Mountains to Raleigh and beyond.
Where to find beer-centric events? Just about everywhere, says the Brookston Beer Bulletin’s Jay Brooks, who notes there are more “official” beer weeks than weeks of the year.
Spawned by the burgeoning craft beer movement, these home-grown suds fests promote home-grown brews. “The growth of beer festivals parallels the growth of brew pubs and microbreweries,” says Paul Ruschmann, who tracks the events on his website, Beerfestivals.org.