10 Best Southern Winter Beer Festivals to Challenge Your Palate
 
Will Kinton
 
 
 
From ales to stouts, these fantastic beer festivals have something for every beer lover

While some southern cities like Asheville, North Carolina have had a vibrant craft beer scene for quite some time, a good portion of the South has historically lagged behind the rest of the nation in craft brewing. Thankfully, that certainly has started to change.  Breweries are starting to pop up throughout the southern states, and the beers they’ve come up with are revolutionary and pushing the boundaries of the craft. Of course, the best way to get a great taste of southern beer culture is to go to a beer festival—because southerners know how to throw a great festival, even in the winter. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of great winter beer festivals in the South, for you to check out below. 

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Photo courtesy of Mike Dixon / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) cropped, hue

Bluffton International and Craft Beer Festival

Bluffton, SC
November 5, 2016

The Bluffton International and Craft Beer Festival is considered by some to be “The Best Little Beer Fest in the US” and it doesn’t take much to see why. This Beer Festival showcases over 125 beers from more than 40 breweries across the US and focuses on unique, new, and exotic beers that you usually can’t find in a grocery store. The Bluffton Beer Fest even has hourly surprises of limited quantity rare, high gravity, and retired beers for those who can get to the booth in time.  

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Photo courtesy of John Murden / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) cropped

Bayou Beer Fest

Houma, LA
November 12, 2016

The Bayou Beer Fest is the premier beer festival in the Bayou Region of southern Louisiana and is held at the historic 19th century sugar plantation, making it a truly memorable beer festival. The festival will feature hundreds of craft beers from both Louisiana-based, national, and even international craft breweries. Of course, there will also be food to purchase, and several local musical acts to keep the festival festive. Best of all, all the money made by the Bayou Beer Fest goes straight to causes that help veterans and their families transition to civilian life.  

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Photo courtesy of Erik / (CC BY-NC 2.0) cropped

Key Largo Brew on the Bay

Key Largo, FL
January 6-7, 2017

You’ll probably forget that it’s actually winter at this craft beer festival held in on the largest of the Florida Keys. The Key Largo Brew on the Bay covers two days, and will feature at least 40 different breweries, including breweries local to the Keys themselves. The festival will feature a homebrew competition, which will determine who can brew best across four categories. Finally, because you can’t fully enjoy beer with an empty stomach, Brew on the Bay will feature Seafood Court, with fresh Florida lobster, stone crab, shrimp, fish sandwiches, and lionfish.   

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Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski / (CC BY-SA 2.0) cropped

Miami Beer Festival

Miami, FL
January 14, 2017

The Miami Beer Festival is back for the fifth year in a row, and brings with it a wide variety of craft and international beers, including many local breweries. Visitors to the festival will be able to try beers from over 50 breweries, including a number of local Floridian producers like Miami Brewing Co. and Hatuey Cuban Style Ale. Included in the mix are some highly experimental, Miami inspired beers like a barrel-aged flan stout and a porter aged with palo santo wood. The festival will also feature the best of Miami’s food trucks and local DJs, so it’s sure to be a great time.

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By cyclonebill from Copenhagen, Denmark (Chili con carne Uploaded by FAEP) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Yaga's Chili Quest & Beer Fest

Galveston, TX
January 20-21, 2017

Beer and chili go together like peas and carrots, so you will not want to miss the annual Yaga’s Chili Quest & Beer Fest. The festival will feature over 100 craft and import beers, including rare finds and a few surprises. Of course, there will also be a variety of tasty chili for you to try at the Chili Sampling. The festival will also feature a 5k Fun Run/Walk, a washer pitching tournament, a jackpot margarita contest and more. 

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© Arne9001 | Dreamstime.com - Friends Drinking Beer In Bar Photo cropped

Asheville Winter Warmer Beer Festival

Asheville, NC
January 21, 2017

Asheville has had a long affinity for craft beer, so you can expect their Winter Warmer Beer Festival to be a good one. The festival puts a strong emphasis on locally and regionally based beers, but also try to bring in special guest breweries from elsewhere for something different. The full list of breweries hasn’t yet been finalized for this year’s event, but you can expect there to be a varied and exciting line up of at least 30 breweries at the event. 

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Photo courtesy of Juli / (CC BY-NC 2.0) cropped

Jolly Skull Beer & Wine Festival

Greenville, NC
January 21, 2017

The 7th annual beer Jolly Skull Beer & Wine Festival is hosted by Greenville’s Beer Army Foundation, an organization that seeks to change North Carolinian laws that currently handicap the state’s homebrewing industry through educating lawmakers and the general public.  The festival itself is a world class beer festival with over 50 American craft microbreweries and wineries, offering at least 125 different beers and wines. There will also be live music, some great food, and of course, lots of fun to be had.

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By Paul Joseph from vancouver, bc, canada (08-mar-31) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons cropped

Top of the Hops Beer Festival

Biloxi, MS
January 30, 2017

The Top of the Hops Beer Festival is the premier winter beer event for Mississippi, an area of the South with a blossoming craft beer scene.  The event will feature around 150 world-class beers from a variety of locally and nationally recognized breweries. There will be great food, and live music from Patrick Mooney, a talented Mississippi-grown multi-instrumentalist. The event will also feature the Brew University area where festival-goers can learn about cooking with beer, food pairings, and how to brew beer. 

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Photo courtesy of AO'D / (CC BY-NC 2.0) cropped, hue

Queen City Brewers Festival

Charlotte, NC
February 4, 2017

Queen City Brewers Festival is unique in that it only features breweries that are within a 30 minute drive of uptown Charlotte, for a truly local craft beer experience. Even with the tight geographic reach, the beer festival will feature almost 30 local craft breweries. The beer festival is also the annual fundraiser for ACEing Autism, a non-profit organization that helps use tennis to improve those affected by autism spectrum disorders.

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Photo courtesy of Adam Fagen / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) cropped

Tennessee Winter Beer Fest

Knoxville, TN
February 18, 2017

The Tennessee Winter Beer Fest sets out to promote the art and culture of craft beer throughout Eastern Tennessee, and has done so spectacularly for the past six years. The festival features a variety of breweries throughout the region, such as the Saw Works Brewing Company, Last Days of Autumn Brewing, and Johnson City Brewing Company. There will also be food offered, and at this beer festival the price of admission actually includes the food, alongside tastings and a commemorative glass. 

Are there any other southern winter brew fests out there that we missed? Have you been to any of these festivals? Let us know in the comments below!

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