This article appeared in the January 2016 issue of All About Beer Magazine.
Among beer lovers, the question of “What’s next?” looms large. There’s always the next beer to taste or seek out, new brewery to visit or festival to look forward to. All About Beer Magazine looks to 2016 to answer that question for you with a roundup of beer events and releases for the year ahead, from the more under the radar to the highly anticipated. See something we missed? Let us know on Twitter @allaboutbeer or email us at [email protected].
SF Beer Week
How big is the always-ambitious SF Beer Week? After kicking off with an Opening Gala on Jan. 22, it boasts more than 700 events across the Bay Area over 10 days, including mini-festivals, epic beer dinners and brunches and educational demos.
Great Lakes Steady Rollin’ IPA
The session IPA train is chugging along, and Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Co. is the latest to jump aboard. Its Steady Rollin’ Session IPA clocks in at 4.8%, features the tropical Mosaic hop and will be available year-round starting in January. Pick it up in six-packs or 12-packs of 12-ounce bottles or find it on draft.
Break from beer for a chance to try a spread of ciders from around the globe at Cider Summit. It’s the third year of the Chicago fest, which also features cideries from the burgeoning cider region of Michigan and the Chicago-area. The nomadic fest will also land in San Francisco in April and Portland, Oregon, in June (exact dates TBD).
Big Texas Beer Fest
Get a taste of the booming Texas beer scene at the fifth annual BTBF, started by a pair of local beer geeks who found inspiration after attending the Great American Beer Festival. The expansive event features well over 100 breweries, special cask ales and limited-edition releases from Texas brewers and beyond.
Philly Beer Week
Any beer week with its own “Hammer Relay” achieves a certain legendary status, and Philly Beer Week (actually stretched out over 10 days) prides itself on maintaining that epic standing. It’s one of the oldest, and certainly one of the biggest, beer weeks in the country, with hundreds of tastings, dinners, bar crawls and festivals. Festivities typically kick off the last weekend of May.
The inaugural Kriekfest, hosted by beer writer (and All About Beer contributor) Brian Yaeger and Solera Brewery, promises more than 30 cherry beers and ciders and a farmers market in the shadow of majestic Mount Hood.
Great American Beer Fest
Tickets for the Great American Beer Fest, held Oct. 6-8 in Denver, go on sale in late July. It typically sells out within hours, so set your alarm for this one, too.
Asheville, North Carolina
Presented by Wicked Weed Brewing, funk master in its own right, this third annual gathering of sour and wild ales in Asheville benefitting Pints for Prostates features established and up-and-coming breweries at the forefront of sour and wild ales.
This one-day-only fest is on many a D.C. beer geek’s calendar. It has the numbers—more than 300 beers and ciders for tasting—and the sought-after special releases and vintages from breweries across the country. Plus, it has local food vendors and music, and proceeds are donated to Arcadia, a D.C.-based nonprofit center for sustainable food and agriculture.
Fresh Hop Ale Festival
Every fall in the heart of hop country, brewers gather to pour their fresh hop ale creations, brewed with whole, never-dried hops from that year’s harvest. It’s your best chance to try so many takes on this style that only comes around this hemisphere once a year.
This cask-conditioned beer celebration has grown from its early days on the patio at Bar Volo in Toronto to an enormous festival featuring more than 150 breweries and 300 beers from across Canada and beyond.
Coastal Barley wine
Pelican Brewing, situated along the Oregon coast, releases its Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged barley wine Mother of All Storms in November, just ahead of Thanksgiving so you’ll have something decadent to pair with pie.
A Warming Winter Stout
The Hardywood Gingerbread Stout, brewed by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Virginia, is a festive imperial milk stout brewed with fresh local ginger and honey. Expect the bottle release in mid-November.
Other Notable Events and Releases
In February, New Belgium Brewing typically releases its La Folie, a wood-aged Belgian sour brown ale, as part of the Lips of Faith line. It’s one of the brewery’s earliest sour beer releases, dating back to 1997, and remains one of its most anticipated, alongside other releases, including Le Terroir, a dry-hopped sour ale.
September sees the annual release of Brasserie Cantillon’s Zwanze, a specialty Belgian lambic that changes recipe every year. You can find it on draft, and a selection of Cantillon’s sought-after sour and wild ales, at the ensuing Zwanze Day celebrations held at select bars and breweries across the country.
Look out for the latest Boulevard Brewing’s Love Child series release in April. It’s also a wild child: complex sour ale, barrel-aged with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus.
Back to Camp
Sierra Nevada’s cross-country collaboration beer tour and variety pack, Beer Camp, returns for 2016, on an even more impressive scale. Thirty breweries joined Sierra Nevada for six different regional 12-packs, and they’ll be going on the road for a six-city traveling beer fest.
Anniversary Ales and Fests
Brewery birthday parties often double as bottle releases and mini-festivals, so there’s never a shortage of beer lovers who want to help them celebrate. Here’s a few to look forward to.
Avery Brewing will turn 23 in August, and the Boulder brewery annually hosts a party featuring rare and vintage releases and a special anniversary ale that changes each year.
Stone Brewing, turning 21 this year, marks its August anniversary with a special IPA released in 22-ounce bottles and a massive invitational beer festival.
Firestone Walker’s anticipated anniversary ale is a complex blend of many of its barrel-aged beers, pieced together like a puzzle with help from neighboring winemakers, who are expert blenders themselves. The Paso Robles, California, brewery will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a party in October.
The slightly younger Funky Buddha Brewery out of Oakland Park, Florida, celebrates its third anniversary in May with a block party featuring a knock-out lineup of Funky Buddha brews.