Your Guide to Milwaukee’s Summer Beer Fests

Beer festivals have become as popular a summer pastime as baseball games, fireworks and complaining about road construction. Learn about a few that should satisfy your craft beer habit until the fall.

World of Beer Festival

World of Beer Festival logo banner
Photo courtesy of the Beer Barons.

When: Saturday, June 3

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 14 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, $75 VIP

Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival

Beer drinkers sampling at a beer festival
Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival. Photo courtesy of Rachel Berkowitz.

When: Saturday, June 17

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: $45 general admission, $75 VIP

Door County Beer Festival

When: Saturday, June 17

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

Deschutes Street Pub

When: Saturday, July 22

Where: Old World 3rd St. and Kilbourn Ave.

Why you should go: The massive pop-up pub appears in just five cities this year, and Milwaukee is one of the lucky few. All of the favorites from Deschutes Brewery are on tap behind the 400-foot bar, including the outstanding Abyss Imperial Stout. Admission is free and proceeds benefit the Hunger Task Force and Westown Association.

Tickets: Free

Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest

Photo by Caroline Tan.

When: Saturday, July 22

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: $49 general admission, $80 VIP

Milwaukee Brewfest

When: Saturday, July 29

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: $50 general admission, $75 VIP

Border War Beer Fest

When: Saturday, August 5

Where: HarborPark, 5501 Ring Rd., Kenosha

Why you should go: As a show of state pride. The clever event, only in its second year, pits Wisconsin breweries against Illinois breweries. The winning state, as voted by attendees, gets the soon-to-be-coveted “Willy” trophy. Wisconsin claimed the crown last year, but Tighthead Brewing of Mundelein, Illinois took 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

The Great Taste of the Midwest

When: Saturday, August 12

Where: Olin Park, Madison

Why you should go: If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, this is one of the oldest—this is the 31st Great Taste—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 Brew Fest

When: Saturday, September 16

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, $89 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.