For beer geeks and those who want go deep into the craft beer scene, a beer festival is the perfect way to sample a massive amount beer in three to four hours. You’ll get to mingle with other enthusiasts, ask questions of the brewers themselves and wear a charming necklace of hard pretzels if you feel inclined.
If you’ve never been, here’s how it works: You get a small 2 oz. tasting glass that you take around to stations that are serving samples of a brewery’s beer (usually a couple). Multiply that by a hundred, add in a few trips to the bathroom, a break for food and you have the beer festival experience.
Get ready to expand your beer palate — spring beer fest season is here!
Big Brew Beer Festival
Where: The Morristown Armory, 430 Western Avenue, Morristown
When: March 4, two sessions (12-4 pm & 5:30-9:30 pm)
Details: When the Morristown Armory isn’t hosting arts & crafts and antique festivals, it likes to host craft beer festivals. While there won’t be driftwood art or vintage jewelry, you’ll get to artfully navigate some of the area’s finest ale from Czig Meister, Ramstein, Jersey Girl and Man Skirt to name a few. Free shuttle from Morristown train station is provided.
More info: bigbrewnj.com
Bridgewater JCC Beer Festival
Where: Shimon and Sara Birnbaum JCC, 775 Talamini Road, Bridgewater
When: March 25, one session (7-10 pm)
Details: Right after you’re done observing the Sabbath, you can take part in this second annual event that benefits the JCC Scholarship Fund. You’ll be saying “L’chaim!” while drinking beers from Flemington’s Lone Eagle, Belford Brewing Company, Edison’s Cypress and others.
More info: www.eventbrite.com
Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival
Where: Atlantic City Convention Center, 1 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City
When: March 31 and April 1, three sessions (Friday: 8 pm-12 am, Saturday: 12 pm-4 pm & 6-10 pm)
Details: The granddaddy of them of all returns for its twelfth year. The ACBMF, the largest festival in the state, is a who’s who of NJ craft beer with 200 state and national breweries represented. This year’s bands include Flogging Molly, the Front Bottoms and local boys Streetlight Manifesto. Gamble afterwards at your own risk.
More info: www.acbeerfest.com
The Great Jersey Shore Burger Contest and Craft Beer Fest
Where: Bar Anticipation, 703 16th Avenue, Belmar
When: April 15, one session (1-4 pm)
Details: lt’s not a good or halfway decent burger contest — it’s a great one! This celebration of patties and beers pits burger vs. burger in a battle to see who will be crowned “The Best Burger at the Shore.” Even better, you can try each burger in the competition while sampling some suds.
More info: www.eventbrite.com
Big Brew Sussex
Where: Sussex County Fairgrounds, 37 Plains Road, Augusta
When: April 29, one session (5-9 pm)
Details: The sister location of the Big Brew Fest in Morristown, the Sussex edition takes the festivities outside for a night of IPAs, stouts, pilsners and hoping you can find your lost friends in the crowd.
More info: bigbrewnj.com/
Beer BBQ Bacon Showdown
Where: Lewis Meadow Park, Doe Meadow Field, 270 Mendham Road, Morristown
When: May 20, one session (12-1 pm VIP hour, 1-5 pm general admission)
Details: We’re going to let the words beer, BBQ and bacon settle in. Now that we have your attention, a celebration of all things delicious brings these perfect worlds together. Expect an all-Jersey line-up of beers from the likes of Kane, Dark City, 902, Two Ton and Flounder accompanying BBQ from Bearded Pig, Olsen’s, Kimchi Smoke and Hot Rods.
More info: njbeerbbqfest.com
About the author: Chris Castellani writes about the NJ beer scene for BestofNJ.com. He wonders if The Boss is into craft beer. He also writes the travel blog Why Am I Not There?