Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Jeremy
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Much like our goal to visit every Pittsburgh brewery, we're also on a mission to go to all of the annual beer festivals in Pittsburgh.
And, like our growing brewery scene, the list of festival options is so long such that we'll be checking out new ones many times a year for quite some time.
In this one, we did not want to do a review of every beer festival out there (you can find all of those on our site already), but instead want to look at them from a different angle. You see, beer festivals come in many different styles, offerings, and ambiances, and what you're looking for may influence your festival choice completely!
So whether you're looking to try a themed festival, or want an absurd amount of local beer, or perhaps even want to enjoy something completely different, the following may be for you.
Beer Festivals for Philanthropy – Steel City Big Pour at Construction Junction
We love Construction Junction, and fully support their re-use mission in Pittsburgh.
At Steel City Big Pour, you can get your fill on delicious local beer while supporting the re-use cause in southwest Pennsylvania. Hard to say no to that one, right?
But be quick if trying to buy tickets for this festival- they sell out fast!
Beer Festivals for Those Who Want to Drink a Ton – Pittsburgh Beerfest
If drinking copiously is what you seek, then attending the Pittsburgh Beerfest summer (typically at Stage AE) or winter (typically at the convention center) should be on your radar.
This is a local iteration of a national beer festival and features dozens upon dozens of breweries ranging from local favorites to national breweries like Cigar City (Florida), Dogfish Head (Deleware), Rhinegheist (Ohio), and more.
While the sample quantity will certainly outlast anyone's ability to drink, it is definitely an interesting festival to attend for those who want to enjoy volumes of beer.
If you have to pick between summer and winter, we recommend attending the winter festival for this one since it is inside and temperature controlled. The summer event is typically indoor/outdoor at Stage AE and can either include rain or be absurdly hot- two things that don't mix well with drinking.
We recommend getting the VIP pass to get in early here, if only because we like the luxury of drinking when it is a bit less chaotic and leaving before individuals get a bit too over-the-top.
Beer Festivals for Local Beer – Beers of the Burgh
If drinking local beer is what you seek, most every beer festival will get you an abundance. But if a festival only about local beer is what you seek, it is really hard to beat Beers of the Burgh.
This festival offers two annual events, one in the summer and one in the winter, and, if we have to be honest, the summer one is a must-attend event each year.
Why is that? Well, recently it has been hosted at the iconic Carrie Furnace, a National Historic Landmark protecting the Steel City's heritage, and has featured over 50 breweries from western Pennsylvania. Local beer and steel history all in one spot? Sign us up.
We also recommend getting the VIP pass to get in early here too, but, unlike the Pittsburgh Beerfest, we recommend this one because a lot of breweries will have special taps just for early admission drinkers!
Alternative choice: We also really enjoy Imbibe Northside as well! This one features all of the libations producers (including beer, wine, and spirits) in the North Side at the wonderful Mattress Factory during their winter and summer events.
Beer Festivals for Specialty Creations – Good Wood Barrel Aged Beer Fest
When it comes to specialty beer festivals, your choice is likely going to depend on your taste in beer first and foremost (naturally).
Out of all of the specialty beer events we've attended, the one that really blew us away was the Good Wood Barrel Aged Beer Fest.
Part of this is because of its size- only twenty or so breweries participated and, in being hosted at East End (Threadbare in 2020), meant the crowd was small enough that you hardly ever had to wait for a beer. But the other part is due to its theme- breweries had barrel aged creations ranging from imperial porters, sours, and even aged IPAs (so not all were dark or high ABV!). A few even made beer specifically for the event!
If you like aged beers, it is hard to beat this one.
Alternative choice: Don't like barrel aged beers? How about Rose beer (amongst other libations) at the aptly named Rose All Day or dessert beer at Drink the Cookie Table!
Beer Festivals With a Twist – Barrel & Flow Fest
To wind down this list, we want to talk about the festival that is perhaps our favorite of them all- one that is a beer festival with a twist!
Barrel & Flow Fest (formerly Fresh Fest) started in 2018 to be America's first black beer festival. Their goals were many, including introducing several minority-owned breweries from around the country to Pittsburgh, and also partnering the local (primarily white) brewery owners with minority business owners and entrepreneurs to create beers suited for their tastes.
What resulted was a beer festival with over 50+ breweries on hand, new creations designed specifically for the event, and all-around a wonderful time- especially when you consider it was its inaugural year.
We're really looking forward to great things at this one as it expands in the coming years!
No Matter Which You Attend, Drink Responsibly
As with everything revolving around alcohol, we caution you to drink responsibly when attending beer events.
Many of these festivals are centrally located such that an Uber is a wonderful option, and most festivals offer a designated driver ticket for cheap. To put it simply: don't drink and drive!
In any case, no matter which beer festival you choose from the above list, odds are good you're going to have a fantastic time- and we'll see you there!
Not into beer festivals? Check out a brewery tour instead with the folks at City Brew Tours (click here to book)!