Soak up a beer boat cruise in Maine, a BIPOC-focused brew fest in Connecticut, and more.
Remember beer festival? A social activity of earlier times, these were events during which drinkers made noises in crowded convention centers to taste—well, whatever they were in line with. Good news: Beer fests are back and looking better than ever. In fact, here are six summer events worth visiting in every New England state, from a chance to see rare “whale” beer in Rhode Island, Connecticut Fest, to a multi-day Maine series with a boat cruise and sour beer brunch. Across the region, BIPOC Brewers are celebrating.
Watching Whale Fish: Saturday, May 21
The Beer Festival is a great place to try brews you just can’t find anywhere else; Hence the name of this first beer fest from New York-based brewing company Finnback. The Whale Watching finback nods to the aquatic ungulate in its logo, yes—but “whale” is also craft-beer-speak for the rare, seemingly unattainable brew that fans can (usually) only salivate over Instagram. When you won’t see any fins or tails jutting out of the Blackstone River when it comes to whale watching in Pawket, RI in May, the festival Will Want to keep your eyes peeled for super-limited suds from acclaimed breweries, including those that have never been poured into the Ocean State (and are rarely seen at Mass, for that matter): Brooklyn’s other half, Great Notion Brewing of Portland, Ore., and Buried Beer Company of Asheville, NC plus, Outdoor Fest also promises an all-star lineup of craft beers people (including DJ Chris Maestro of the New York City beer and vinyl bar, Bearwax), plus a selection of Rhode Island-based food vendors. can’t make Good News. Finback is planning another whale watching trip to Boston for this fall.
ticket $80, Saturday, May 21, 1:30-5 PM, outside at 249 Roosevelt Ave., Pawket, RI
Changes in Air Festival: Saturday, June 18
There’s still a long road to building a more equitable craft beer industry: Consider the Brewers Association’s estimate that, right now, only 1 percent of American craft breweries are Black-owned. That’s why it’s so important that the New England Brewing Company and Connecticut Brewers Guild helped establish the African American Brewing Scholarship for Brewing Science certificate program at Sacred Heart University. NEBCo. The Change in the Air Festival supports this scholarship fund by celebrating both craft beer and black culture in Connecticut. (Last year’s opening ceremony raised $10,000.) The best BIPOC-owned and local craft breweries planning to pour again this year include New Haven’s Rhythm Brewing Company, Bridgeport’s Cerveza Papi and Portland, Maine. of the prestigious Bissell Brothers Brewing. Change in the Air will host an artisan market, interactive art walk, and live music performances, plus local BIPOC food vendors representing all corners of their respective diaspora.
ticket $35, Saturday, June 18, 12-7 p.m., at Bear’s BBQ, 470 James St., New Haven, CT; changeintheairfest.net,
Vermont Brewers Fest: Thursday, July 21 – Saturday, July 23
Burlington, Vermont is one of the most beautiful craft beer destinations in the world, and the Waterfront Vermont Brewers Festival has played a big part in building that reputation. First hosted in 1991, the Lake Champlain-side event returns this summer with five tasting sessions and some welcome changes to its very successful format. For one thing, it will now offer a different lineup of craft breweries each day (this means shorter sessions, more space to spread, and less waiting time) to reflect the vast number of quality beer makers based in the Green Mountain State. Time is to pass. Line). From breweries that put Vermont on the craft map, like Lawson’s Coolest Liquors, to a new generation of taprooms (hello, foam), there will be more beers to drink during each 4-hour session. And if you’re the type who prefers to commit to a glass instead of ordering a flight, this final update to the festive format should make your whistle wet: Drinkers can choose whether they’re serving a 3-oz, Each 6-ounce, or 9-ounce sample poured into this year’s commemorative Vermont Brewers Fest tasting glass.
$35-$119, Thursday, July 21-Saturday, July 23, multiple times, Waterfront Park, 20 Lake St., Burlington, VT, vermontbrewers.com,
wavy days: Thursday, July 21 – Sunday, July 24
Maine’s Mast Landing Brewing Company is bringing awesome craft breweries to the Pine Tree State for its first Wavy Days festival — and an array of activities, too. Things kick off Thursday nights with tap acquisitions at bars around Vacationland, while Fridays bring a Casco Bay beer cruise departing from Portland Harbor. Centerpiece beer festivities begin at noon on Saturdays at the historic Scarborough Downs Racetrack; More than 40 breweries from across the country will pour along food from favorite Maine food trucks. (Don’t miss the party open to the public at Novare Res, Portland’s beloved and widely acclaimed beer bar.) Finally, prepare for the Wavy Days Sour Beer Brunch on Sunday at Mast Landing’s Westbrook headquarters. monday? This is for recovery, of course.
$70 for the main celebration, other events vary; Thursday, July 21 – Sunday, July 24, different times, different places, mastlandingbrewing.com,
Boylston Schul-Werren Oktoberfest: Saturday, September 10 – Sunday, September 11
Now for something completely different. The largest German-American cultural center in the Greater Boston area, Boylston Schul-Werren in Walpole has an on-site bar that regularly hosts Biergarten – including an annual Oktoberfest festival that is not to be missed. (If you can’t wait that long, June Sommerfest is also one to check out.) Coming up on the weekend of September 10 and 11 this year, BSV Oktoberfest will make you feel like you’re in Munich. Discover a secluded, wilderness field. The family-friendly festival features a traditional beer bar and pavilion, as well as house-made wurst, schnitzel, potato pancakes, and more German dishes to buy from several booths (we’ll see you at the Cake House). Beer stands have been set up all over the area. There’s also an artisan market, activities like an obstacle course for kids—and it isn’t Oktoberfest without an om-pah band. It’s a fun celebration without any of the hype: just good, old-fashioned beer, food, and community. There is usually a minimum entrance fee on each day of the festival, while beer and food are paid-for. Perfectly fine.
Tickets on sale soon; Saturday, September 10 (12-10 pm) and Sunday, September 11 (12-6 pm), Boylston Schul-Werren (8 County St./Route 109, Walpole, MA), germanclub.org,
Schilling Oktoberfest: Saturday, September 24
Start your leaf-peeping season in New Hampshire’s beautiful White Mountains And Check out one of the area’s premier Oktoberfest celebrations with Schilling Beer Company, located in the adorable North Country town of Littleton. Doubling as an anniversary party for Schilling, a brewery inspired by small-batch, European-style lagers, Oktoberfest annually showcases some of its best brews. But it also brings in breweries promoted from elsewhere in the city, whether they make dank and fruity IPAs, tarts and funky barrel-age sours, or dry-harvested crunchy bois (they’re modern-day lagers).
Tickets on sale soon; 18 Mill St., Littleton, NH., shillingbear.com,