Spring is the time for breweries to showcase their latest creations and throw one helluva party for pent-up revelers. Whether you’re interested in experimenting with IPAs and sours, perfecting your cheese pairings or dialing in your game of one-handed corn hole, beer fests are the perfect cure for cabin fever.
Spend a day sampling some of the most inventive and attention-grabbing brews in the Midwest at these spring beer festivals.
Bock Fest, March 2, 2019 August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm, Minnesota
Schell’s is the second-oldest family-owned brewery in the United States and the oldest in Minnesota. Every year in early March, Schell’s hosts Bock Fest, their biggest party of the year. Revelers by the thousands come to “Sip Some Bock And Pray For Spring!”
Bock Fest. Photo courtesy of Explore Minnesota/Don Borstad.
The event’s highlight is the “Seven Bocks of Winter” scavenger hunt. Armed with clues and pints of Bock beer, participants comb the grounds of the brewery and nearby Flandrau State Park in search of the elusive bocks. Human St. Bernards with kegs of Bock beer strapped to their backs offer on-the-spot refills to hunters whose mugs are running low. Legend has it, if all Seven Bocks of Winter are captured and brought back to the brewery, winter will finally release its icy grip.
General admission tickets are $10.
Cedar Rapids Beer Summit, March 3, 2019 Doubletree Convention Complex, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Sample more than 100 craft beers from 50-plus breweries at the Cedar Rapids Beer Summit. See if local favorites like Toppling Goliath and Peace Tree Brewing Company hold their own against national brands such as New Belgium Brewing Company and Goose Island Beer Co. A VIP pass will score you an extra hour of sampling time, a custom sampling cup and a cool hat.
General admission tickets are $35-40 online, $45 at the door. VIP passes are $55.
Chicago Beer Festival, March 9, 2019 The Field Museum, Chicago
Sip with Sue (the T.Rex) at this year’s Chicago Beer Festival held at the Field Museum. Over 70 breweries will be pouring a new selection of seasonal beers. Tickets include admission to a select number of exhibits, while VIP ticket holders are treated to a special happy hour.
VIP admission is $60 and general admission is $45. Tickets will not be sold at the door.
The Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival celebrates a perfect pairing. The event, now in its 12th year, features a variety of cheese from some of Wisconsin’s top makers and beer from more than 50 local and national breweries.
Photo courtesy of The Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival
Local bands play on three stages throughout the day, while MGV Harmonia (German Men’s Choir) will perform impromptu “prosits” to hype up the crowd. All proceeds help support the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha’s after-school programs for at-risk community youth.
$50 for G/A tickets, $75 for VIP tickets.
World Expo of Beer, May 17-18, 2019 Frankenmuth, Michigan
Michigan’s World Expo of Beer is the state’s largest beer sampling event, with nearly 300 vendors from around the world. Last year, The Official World Expo of Beer Competition had over 800 entries across 41 categories.
Ambitious attendees can get into the event an hour early if they compete in a half-mile fun run that starts in Heritage Park and ends at the Frankenmuth Brewery. All proceeds from the 1Beer1K run will be donated to charitable causes by the Frankenmuth Jaycees.
Tickets are $18. 1Beer1K race entry is $50.