Spending time with family and friends while sipping a delicious craft beer is fun all year round. But something about the leaves changing color, the crisp air, and knowing winter is on its way makes celebrating beer in the fall more special.
Whether you prefer a lager, ale, or stout, heading to a beer festival to sample new and exciting brews and old favorites is a great way to get out and about this autumn. Raise your pint glass to good friends and good spirits at one of Iowa’s fall beer festivals.
Oktoberfest, Amana Colonies, Sept. 20 – Oct. 2
Admission: $10 for a one-day pass and $15 for a two-day pass
Oktoberfest is in full swing in many Iowa cities and throughout the Midwest. One of the most authentic Oktoberfest celebrations occurs in the Amana Colonies, a collection of seven villages founded by German immigrants in 1855. Although Oktoberfest isn’t all about beer, the Amana Colonies are famous for their beer production at Millstream Brau Haus—German for “brew house,” making beer an integral part of the celebration.
In 2022, Amana Colonies Oktoberfest kicks off on Friday, Sept. 30, and the Official Oktoberfest Keg Tapping Ceremony begins at 2 p.m. Don’t worry though, if you cannot make the ceremony. You can enjoy some Oktoberfest beer and other Millstream brews all weekend long. The festival also boasts live music and games, plus as much German sausage as you can handle with your beer. If you’re really up for a challenge, consider entering the brat-eating contest on Saturday, Oct. 1, after the parade that starts at 10 a.m.
Iowa City Brewfest, Iowa City, Oct. 8
Admission: Free without samples, $94 for Brewmaster tickets with samples
The Iowa City Brewfest is part of the larger Northside Oktoberfest celebration which includes traditional Oktoberfest entertainment, games, contests, and live outdoor music. Everyone can attend the festivities at the Outdoor Bier Hall, but you must spend $10 on a mug to purchase beer and wine.
The Brewfest begins at 11 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. with more than 40 vendors who have samples of beer to share with Brewmasters. If you are a true beer connoisseur, the price of the $94 Brewmaster ticket is worth the money. In addition to admission and UNLIMITED beer samples, your Brewmaster ticket comes with a customized Northside Oktoberfest glass, a $15 gift card to use at a Northside business, a custom Northside Oktoberfest baseball hat, and one free beer at the Outdoor Bier Hall. The Brewfest only sells 800 Brewmaster tickets each year, and they always sell out. If you want to go to Iowa City Brewfest, get your tickets ASAP.
Boos & Brews, Dubuque, Oct. 21- 22
Admission: $40 General Admission, $50 VIP, $10 Wristband for Designated Drivers
Boos & Brews is part of the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival. The festival kicks off Friday night with a family-friendly movie and live music at Hotel Julien Dubuque. The Brewfest begins at noon on Saturday and lasts until 4 p.m. at The Tappening in Five Flags Center. All ticket holders receive a festival glass, but those who buy VIP tickets get early access at noon, while general admission ticket holders cannot enter The Tappening until 1 p.m.
Your admission to The Tappening during Boos & Brews includes free samples from all the breweries. More than 20 breweries will be attending, including Iowa favorites such as Big Grove Brewery, Dimensional Brewing Co., Peace Tree Brewing, and River Ridge Brewing. After you sample your favorite craft beers, you can head out to watch the Boos & Brews Halloween Parade.
712 Brew Fest, Sioux City, Oct. 29
Admission: $25 General Admission, $40 VIP
Old Chicago has long been famous for its World Beer Tour—patrons join the club and get credit for each beer they try. Once they try 110 beers, they have completed the tour and earned their name on the Hall of Foam. Old Chicago sponsors the 2nd Annual 712 Brew Fest at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, making it a must-do fall Iowa beer festival.
Attendees have the chance to sample more than 100 types of beer from local, regional, and national breweries and enjoy live music. VIP ticket holders have access to a special VIP area and they receive complimentary food. If you really want to attend 712 Brew Fest, you need to get tickets quickly because they sell a limited number. However, you get a $5 discount when you purchase tickets prior to the day of the event.
Frogtown Craft Beer Festival, Quad Cities, Nov. 26
Admission: Three-tiered pricing for VIP and General Admission, ranging from $30 to $50
After being postponed for a few years because of the pandemic, the Frogtown Craft Beer Festival returns in November. If you want to avoid the after-Thanksgiving shopping crowds and have some fun with friends and family, your best bet is the Frogtown Craft Beer Festival.
The festival runs from noon to 4 p.m. at the Rust Belt in East Moline, Illinois. While you can find a flavor that suits you, this festival does focus on fall brews like Oktoberfest, stouts, porters, and other dark beers. The sooner you buy your tickets, the cheaper they are, with the best prices until Nov. 20. VIP ticket holders get a special pint glass and a drawstring bag.
by Jessica Lee
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