Photo: Werner Heiber/Shutterstock

10 of the World's Best Beer Festivals in May

Prague Edmonton
by Carlo Alcos Apr 28, 2009
Ahhh…spring. Love is in the air, and what better way to urge along your loving instincts than by downing a pint or two of the good stuff?

There is no shortage of beer festivals in May, so if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of these places, make sure you stop by for a swig.

May 1-2: Edmonton International Beer Festival

Don’t be a hoser, eh! The Shaw Conference Centre in Alberta’s capital is hosting the Edmonton International Beer Festival and will have over 200 varieties to be sampled, so get your “aboot” sayin’ butt over there!

Note: don’t expect to find any hockey going on as the Oilers are all out on the golf course. Feel free to pop over to Vancouver though, where the Canucks — who’ve just swept their first round playoff series with the St. Louis Blues — are sure to have a long Stanley Cup run (sorry, had to be done).

May 7-9: Banbury Beer Festival

Banbury is about 130 kms northwest of London in North Oxfordshire. Explore the countryside and visit heritage manors and beautiful gardens, but in between make sure to hit up the Banbury Beer Festival. The 9th annual version promises to be bigger than ever and will include a new Foreign Beer bar. Entrance is free for CAMRA members — but I have a feeling that, if you’re a CAMRA member, you would already know that.

May 11-17: American Craft Beer Week

Not a festival per se, but American Craft Beer Week is a celebration of all that is wonderful of a carefully, handcrafted beer. Small, independent breweries around America are drumming up some special plans to honor the culture and traditions of this noble craft.

They call on beer enthusiasts to thumb their noses at the macrobreweries and to sign their Declaration of Beer Independence, promising to practice “informed consumption” and to champion the message of “responsible enjoyment of craft beer”.

In 2006, the inauguration of the week-long event was recognized by US Congress. You can even friend ’em up on Facebook.

May 15-16: Fete de la Biere

The Fete de la Biere website is only in French, but no worries — here is all you need to know: the festival showcases more than 170 beers and can be found on the lake-shore in Lausanne-Ouchy, Switzerland, with the Alps providing a dramatic backdrop. Live concerts in the evening will ensure you’re given the full festival atmosphere.

May 16: West Coast Brew Fest

The West Coast Brew Fest at Miller Park in Sacramento, California says this year’s 10th annual event will be better than ever. There will be over 60 breweries in attendance and live music on site. Like feeling special? Buy a VIP ticket for some special treatment — just make sure to buy early as they only have 100 of them (it’s exclusive too!).

May 22-23: Kelowna Beer Festival

A little late for snowboarding the champagne powder of Big White and maybe a tad early for water-skiing on Okanagan Lake, it’s the perfect time to partake in the Kelowna Beer Festival in beautiful British Columbia’s interior. Kelowna is an easy and scenic four hour drive from Vancouver, so it’s well worth the trip.

Some of the micro breweries on hand will be: TreeGranville IslandSleemanDead Frog, and Paddock Wood Brewing. Don’t know any of them? That’s alright, that’s the point! I’ve had several of these, and trust me, if you like beer, you’ll like these.

May 23-June 1: Czech Beer Festival

“If I had all the money I’d spent on beer, I’d spend it on beer.” — website of the Newark (England) Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale.

Not many countries do beer like the Czechs. The Czech Beer Festival is proclaimed to be the “largest gastronomic event in the Czech Republic”. There are a million reasons to visit Prague, as anyone who’s been there can tell you. And here is one more.

Over ten days you’re going to get the finest Czech beers, dishes and desserts, doled out by servers in traditional Czech folk costumes. If you’re super keen, you can count down on their website to the opening: 23 days, 16 hours, 52 minutes, 37 seconds…36 seconds…35 seconds…

May 30: Plattduetsche Park Beer Tasting Festival

If you’re in the center of the universe, stop by New York’s Franklin Square on Long Island. You have two sessions at the Plattdeutsche Park Restaurant to choose from if you want to taste some of the world’s finest beers. An authentic Biergarten atmosphere will be on hand, complete with traditional German music. Ladies: bring your dirndle!

May 30: Atlantic Beer Festival

The Atlantic Beer Festival website urges you to “tap a firkin keg!”. Moncton, New Brunswick’s event also has two sessions to choose from, and they offer free shuttle after each one. There is much else to do on Canada’s Atlantic coast, including checking out interesting rock formations at Hopewell Cape or visiting the world famous tides of the Bay of Fundy.

May 30-31: 18th Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation

Yes, I know there are at least 10 things to do in Belgium besides drinking beer, but, well…we’re talking about drinking beer here! What sets this Belgian beer fest apart from the rest is that only lambic beer will be sold. Of that, only “authentic” — no commercial ones — will be on tap. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what lambic beer is, I certainly didn’t.

This beer is brewed only in the Pajottenland region of Belgium, and rather than using carefully cultivated brewer’s yeasts, lambic beer uses a process called “spontaneous fermentation”, in which it is “exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Senne valley”.

So, there you go; your May is set. If you do get to visit any of these fine beer fests, make sure to check back with us and leave a comment here to let us know how it was.


Check here for Matador’s picks of the 20 Best Microbreweries in America.

Last year, Ben Cox and Jamie Kent went on a mission to find America’s best micro brews. Read about it here. If you’d like to know which are the best beer towns in America, here are 20 of them; best beer bars in New Orleans? Here you go.

And finally, what article about beer would be complete without a mention of the biggest beer festival in the world? Here is A First Timer’s Guide to Oktoberfest.

Discover Matador