Every summer, craft beer festivals pop up all over the country like dandelions. Fans flock to these boozy bastions to try specialty brews and sample beers from far-off states. Brewers attend the festivals to chat with other brewers and see what’s happening at the cutting edge of the industry.
But with COVID-19 still looming, summer beer festivals across the country have already been cancelled. Even The Great American Beer Festival — the granddaddy of all U.S. beer celebrations with more than 2,000 participating breweries — is doing the whole thing online this year.
If you’re wondering how to enjoy a few beer-centric events this summer, here are some of the ways festival organizers are trying to tackle social distancing, while still throwing some of the season’s best beer parties.
Option 1: Going Digital
Pros: You can ‘attend’ a beer festival from your own couch.
Cons: No matter how much you lick the screen, you won’t be able to taste the beers. Gotta get ‘em beforehand.
GABF isn’t the only fest moving to an online model this year. Plenty of online beer events have already happened, from The San Diego Beer Festival to beer review site Untappd’s Virtual Fest. And more are on the way.
Fresh Fest — the nation’s first Black-organized beer festival — is embracing the online model. They have a full calendar of events and speakers, along with an incredible line-up of beers, including offerings from heavy hitters like Allagash and from Weathered Souls, the brewery behind the worldwide Black is Beautiful initiative.
And, since they’re partnering with online retailer Tavour, craft fans across the country will be able to get many of the featured beers delivered to their doors.
The Chicago Beer Festival is also holding an online event, with the option to pick up a box of beer the day before the event kicks off, so fans can follow along with the tastings at home.
Option 2: The Drive Through
Pros: It’s a drive through beer festival!
Cons: It’s a drive through beer festival…
At least one fest — Raleigh, North Carolina’s Brewgaloo — is keeping it analog with a drive through model. The fest is usually a giant street party held in April, but for obvious reasons, they could not move forward this year.
Instead, the organizers are collecting canned beers from the state’s top breweries like Trophy and Barrel Culture, and fans will be able to drive through the pop-up event and pick them up. Details are still fuzzy, but it looks like live music and a good time are still on the docket.
Of course, there won’t be any tasting in the car, so fans will have to drive back home before they start cracking open cans.
Option 3: Do It Yourself
Pros: It’s a good excuse to buy a lot of beer.
Cons: No festival grub.
Plenty of enterprising craft beer aficionados are taking matters into their own hands this summer — something that’s easier to do than ever before.
Many breweries across the country are offering home delivery for the first time ever, and thanks to online retailers like Tavour, serious connoisseurs can access rare, high-end brews from some of the most celebrated breweries in the country, like Anchorage Brewing, Weldwerks, and Westbrook.
The company’s app-based platform allows users to choose from a wide variety of beers over the course of several days or even weeks, then have them all shipped at the same time. It’s like a beer festival in a box.