Your Guide to Milwaukee’s Summer Beer Fests

Summer is a glorious time to be a fan of beer. There are no shortage of beer fests in or near Milwaukee to keep you busy sampling suds. Consider this as your guide to smart summer planning.

World of Beer Festival

When: Saturday, June 2

Where: Schwabenhof Pavilion, 14570 W. Silver Spring Dr.

Why you should go: The tagline “by beer nuts, for beer nuts” sums it up. The Beer Barons of Milwaukee have been hosting the World of Beer Festival for a whopping 15 years, long before the craft beer explosion. It’s hard to find a better tap list when it comes to rarities and limited brews.

Tickets: $50 general admission, $70 VIP

Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival

When: Saturday, June 16

Where: Bayshore Town Center, 5800 N. Bayshore Dr.

Why you should go: On, Wisconsin! The Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival only pours beers brewed in the Badger State. It’s a nice reminder of just how good the beer is that’s being brewed in the state.

Tickets: $40 general admission, $50 beer enthusiast, $75 VIP

Door County Beer Festival

When: Saturday, June 16

Where: Brann Field, 8113 Hwy 57, Baileys Harbor

Why you should go: Because it’s in Door County. Sometimes spending a day sampling beer can be a hard sell with the family. Packaging it into a summer trip to lovely Door County makes it far more attractive. I’m not including many fests that aren’t in the Milwaukee area on this list, but the combination of outstanding scenery and a beer list that’s no slouch makes this one worth the drive.

Tickets: $40 general admission, $55 VIP

Milwaukee Firkin Fest

When: Saturday, July 21

Where: Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St.

Why you should go: You appreciate the flavor of moderately carbonated, unpasteurized cask-conditioned ales. You simply just don’t get the chance to try samples from more than 40 different firkins in one place very often. Just think of what it will do for your Untappd check-ins.

Tickets: $50 general admission, $80 VIP, $85 gold pass

Milwaukee Brewfest

When: Saturday, July 28

Where: Old Coast Guard Pavilion, 1600 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.

Why you should go: You can’t beat the lakefront when it comes to a festival venue. More than 100 breweries agree with this reasoning and attend Milwaukee Brewfest to hand out samples. If the weather cooperates it’s the perfect spacious setting, and beer tents are smartly organized to allow for plenty of room for attendees.

Tickets: $55 general admission, $75 VIP

Wisconsin IPA Fest

When: Saturday, August 4

Where: Third Space Brewery, 1505 W. St. Paul Ave.

Why you should go: The highlight of Milwaukee Craft Brewery Week was a huge success in its first year in 2017. Brewers from around the state brought some of their best IPAs and a large group of judges (including a very thankful me) determined that Lakefront Single Hop Centennial was the best. Expect the event to be even bigger this year.

Tickets: Free

Border War Beer Fest

When: Saturday, August 4

Where: HarborPark, 5501 Ring Rd., Kenosha

Why you should go: As a show of state pride. The clever event, only in its third year, pits Wisconsin breweries against Illinois breweries. The winning state, as voted by attendees, gets the soon-to-be-coveted “Willy” trophy. Only Child Brewing made the short trip from Gurnee last year to take home the title of best brewery. Here’s hoping that the Brewers are above the Cubbies in the National League Central standings in August.

Tickets: $45 general admission, $79 VIP, $85 gold pass

The Great Taste of the Midwest

When: Saturday, August 11

Where: Olin Park, Madison

Why you should go: If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, this is one of the oldest — this will be the 32nd year — and revered beer festivals in the United States. More than 150 quality breweries hand out some of their amazing creations to craft beer aficionados. The good news is that even if you can’t get your hands on a ticket, you can benefit. Bars around Madison host plenty of outstanding beer events to kick off the weekend.

Tickets: $60 general admission

Great Lakes Brewfest

When: Saturday, September 15

Where: Racine Zoological Gardens, 2131 N. Main St., Racine

Why you should go: It’s the perfect way to mark the end of the summer beer festival season. Plus, it’s at a zoo on the lakefront. Add more than 250 different beers to the mix and the Great Lakes Brew Fest gives you good reasons to drive south.

Tickets: $50 general admission, $70 gold pass, $90 VIP



Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 20 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for a few years more.