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How to Host a Beer Festival During a Pandemic Lockdown

Summer is beer festival season. Every summer, craft beer festivals pop up all over the country like dandelions. Fans flock to these boozy bastions of beer culture 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 canceled. Even The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) — the granddaddy of all U.S. beer celebrations with more than 2,000 participating breweries — is doing the whole thing online this year! (I think it’s a safe bet to say, “Not same.”)

So, if you love beer and love attending beer-centric events, what are you to do? 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!

How to Host a Beer Festival During a Pandemic Lockdown

Beer Festival Idea #1: Go Digital

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.


  • You can avoid travel and ‘attend’ a beer festival from your own couch
  • You won’t need a designated driver
  • You can check in and out as you please without getting your hand stamped


  • No matter how much you lick the screen, you won’t be able to taste the beers. Gotta get ‘em beforehand.
  • No conversations with some fellow beer lovers.
  • You don’t have an excuse to get out of the house and get some summer sun.

Beer Fest Idea #2: The Drive Through

At least one beer festival — Raleigh, North Carolina’s Brewgaloo — is keeping it analog with a drive-through festival. 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.


  • It’s a drive-through beer festival!
  • You might be able to converse with fellow beer lovers.
  • You’ll have an opportunity to get out of the house.


  • It’s a drive-through beer festival, so…
  • You can’t drink the beer at the festival
  • Traffic congestion — probably like waiting to get your food at a popular fast-food drive-through.

Beer Fair Idea #3: Do It Yourself

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 (mentioned earlier), serious connoisseurs can access rare, high-end brews from some of the most celebrated breweries in the country, like Anchorage Brewing, Weldwerks, and Westbrook.

If you choose to go this route, here are some ideas:

  • Set the mood: Decorate your home like a beer festival. This is the perfect time to hang your St. Pauli Girl poster in the living room.
  • Use beer steins: If you don’t have a collection already, splurge a little and invest in some fun beer steins to drink your beer from. You can go classic, like with a Libbey Heidelberg Glass Beer Mug set, get a little fancy with dimpled glass mugs, or go crazy, like with this Old German Petwer Coat of Arms German Beer Stein.
  • Buy a selection to taste from pale to dark: If you’re going to do this, do it right and give yourself an option to taste a variety of beers, as you would at a real beer festival.
  • Serve beer festival food: Get some giant pretzels, grill some brats, slow cook some beans. Serve whatever you’d like to eat with your beer.

  • It’s a good excuse to buy a lot of beer!
  • You can have fun decorating your living room with stuff you would never put there normally.
  • If you’ve been wanting to wear that pair of lederhosen, but were too embarrassed to do so in public, now you have the perfect opportunity!


  • No festival grub — unless you make it yourself.
  • It will probably be way more expensive to buy all this stuff than it would to get a beer festival ticket.
  • No conversations with beer-loving strangers.

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.

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