Texas Craft Brewers Festival, Wild West BrewFest Pflugerville, Lager Jam, East Side Cool Party, East West Beer Fest
This guide is part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s 2023 City Guide. Check out more of the best eats in Austin, curated by Austin food bloggers, on the full list of guides #atxbesteats.
Music City Austin might be world famous for SXSW and ACL festivals but there are plenty of events to draw visitors and locals into the ATX beer scene too. As the number and diversity of breweries in the greater Austin area has grown, so has the scope and variety of beer festivals and events in and around the city, with breweries collaborating to showcase styles of beer or raise money for charity.
There’s nothing quite like the joy of discovering a really cool event taking place at your destination by surprise, but a bit of planning is definitely advised as these events are popular and often sell out in advance. All the events below are annual and take place at roughly the same time each year, although following two years of cancellations and disruption it’s worth double-checking exact dates with festival organisers on social media to make sure there are no sudden changes so you don’t miss out – beer festival disappointment is real!
Texas Craft Brewers Festival
The Texas Craft Brewers Guild hosts its largest annual shindig in the heart of downtown Austin at Fiesta Gardens on the edge of Zilker Park. This hugely popular event usually sells out in advance, and boasts over 85 breweries and over 200 beers, and over the years has included dedicated charity collaboration tents such as Pink Boots and Black Is Beautiful, showcasing their brews from around the state, as well as an exclusive Partners In Craft tent featuring collaborations between Texas breweries and other local businesses to spread the beery love. With timed special releases spawning snaking queues of beer lovers quick off the mark to bag limited edition brews, this event really is a proper beer nerd paradise. With that in mind, be sure to arrive early. Expect a minimum 30minute wait for general admission entry unless you’re very punctilious indeed, so look sharp to avoid missing out on crucial drinking time. With so much choice on offer picky drinkers may want to go in with a game plan, or just go with the flow and wing it – asking around is also a great way to discover hidden gems. A solid selection of live music and local food trucks ensure that less dedicated drinkers are also entertained, but the TCBF really is all about the beer. This is a fantastic opportunity to try a wide selection of some of the best beers and breweries in Texas, and be sure to chat to the many friendly brewery owners and staff who make the trip every year.
https://texascraftbrewersfestival.org/ GA admission $45, VIP $85, Designated driver $20
Wild West BrewFest Pflugerville
The Wild West BrewFest has been a staple of the Houston beer calendar for a decade, and is deservedly ranked as the top beer festival in the country by BeerYeti. With an unparalleled selection of local and national beers showcasing over 100 breweries most years, the supremely well-organised event makes for a delightful day of beery fun, featuring multiple music stages, extensive food options, a great atmosphere and more beer than you can shake a stick at. Best of all, it’s all for charity, organized by the Katy Rotary Club. In very exciting news, this year the WWBF is coming to Pflugerville, which will save us dedicated fans a trip down the 290, and bring all the WWBF love straight into the arms of Austin’s beer community. Entrance is a snip at $50, including 12 2oz pours, and top-up cards can be purchased for $9 in advance or on the day, and designated Drivers pay half price. If you want to treat yourself to a VIP experience, which promises over 50 rare and limited edition beers in a luxury tent, you’ll be looking at $150, but honestly with over 500 beers to try at the main event that you can fill your boots without feeling you’re missing out. WWBF will be the first festival size-wise to compare to the Texas Craft Brewers Festival in the Austin area, and with the promise of interesting out-of-state offerings mingling with local faves, it’s sure to be a hit.
https://wildwestbrewfestpflugerville.com/ 8th April 2023 – GA $50 plus fees, DD $25 plus fees
Central Texas gets very hot. Central Texas is also known for making awesome lagers. While those two things are not necessarily related (I’ll save my TED Talk on the effects of German immigration to Texas and the influence of Mexican Lager and it’s contentious Austrian heritage for another time), they do come together in a way that makes the summer months here almost bearable – a fact the team behind the Austin Beer Guide felt was worth celebrating when they started Lager Jam nearly nine years ago. 2021’s comeback fest sported over 30 local lagers, running the full style gamut from American Light Lager to Schwarzbier via multiple Pilsner incarnations and wild cards including Oolong Tea Lager from Meanwhile Brewing and Ride The Leichtbier, a collaboration version of this little-known German style by Oddwood and Live Oak. 2022’s event comprised 18 exciting lagers pushing style and flavour boundaries, including Hold Out Brewing’s Hollywood Handshake Mango Sticky Rice Lager and Roughhouse Brewing’s Pink Drink American Light Lager with hibiscus, cinnamon, mint and vanilla bean, as well as more traditional offerings. The festival is regularly hosted by Spokesman Coffee Roasters, and features DJs, screen printing, and a pre and after-party for true lager aficionados. Admission to the venue is free and you can pay as you go, but the organisers do offer a $30 party pack featuring a commemorative glass, three full pours and various other goodies. Taking place in at the height of the heat in late August, get ready to get sweaty – that lager is gonna taste soooo good!
https://www.austinbeerguide.com/ Admission free, Party pack $30
East Side Cool Party
Starting back in 2018, this collaborative event brings together the breweries who call Austin’s hip East Side home. Though the format and line-up for the event has changed over the years, one constant has been a whole lotta fun, with special limited edition collaboration beers, specially designed commemorative cans and glasses, live music, games, pop-ups, food trucks and even a shuttle to get you between venues cos that’s how cool the party is on the East Side. As breweries have arrived on the scene and some sadly have departed, the venues have differed slightly from year to year, although event founders Lazarus Brewing and East Side staples Blue Owl, Zilker and Southern Heights have all been present across the years. The event began as a way of celebrating the exciting beer scene in the district and then developed as an opportunity to fundraise for local charities, with each brewery originally choosing their own beneficiary but all supporting Casa Marianella, a non-profit providing for homeless immigrants in the Austin area since the pandemic hit. With each brewery releasing a new beer for the event, some of which are collabs, and an all-day programme of entertainment across the East Side, be sure to hit up their Facebook or Instagram to get the scoop on which beers and bands you absolutely can’t miss, not to mention the highly limited cans – each brewery has a unique design. The 2022 festival upped the ante with its own shuttle bus to transport drinkers between venues, making catching ’em all even easier than before. This is a super-fun day out for a great cause – don’t miss the 2023 edition!
https://www.instagram.com/eastsidecoolparty/ Free admission at all venues
East West Beer Fest
Austin’s newest charity beer event, the East West Beer Fest was founded by the Craft Beer Austin team to raise money for We Are Blood. 2021’s inaugural event and the 2022 event were both hosted by Turnstile Coffee Beer and Spirits and included 10 Austin-area breweries showing off their West Coast and East Coast IPAs. A $30 general admission fee covered 12 tasting pours and two sample glasses – one for each style, and a $50 VIP pass came loaded with beery swag. Live music and pop-up vendors also featured on the day, with Turnstile’s kitchen open to sate hungry drinkers. The event received substantial advance publicity, with Black Sparrow Radio streaming their Drinking Texas show live from the event throughout the afternoon. With both hazy East Coast and traditional West Coast IPAs still hugely popular in Central Texas, the event offered an opportunity to pit some of our finest examples against one another for an excellent cause, and unsurprisingly sold out in advance. With plans to be back in 2023, this is one IPA lovers won’t want to miss.
https://m.facebook.com/EastWestBeerFest/ GA $30, VIP $50
Other beer festivals in Austin to check out include:
And if that wasn’t enough… look out for brewery parties!
Whenever you choose to visit the city, or if you’re a local looking for a great way to get into new types of beer while meeting like-minded beerfolks, be sure to check the listings in the Austin Chronicle, Do512 and Craft Beer Austin for the latest brewery parties and beer launches – with over 50 breweries in the vicinity, there’s always something on!