Alternatives to Oktoberfest

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The barrels may have already been rolled out at Munich’s annual Oktoberfest, but there are still plenty of other beer festivals happening all over the globe to which you can raise your glass.

Blumenau's Beer Festival, Brazil

Ever fancied listening to an oompah band while supping a stein of beer in South America? In October, Blumenau in Santa Catarina mixes Brazilian and Bavarian with their annual beer festival. Started in 1983 to raise funds after the area was struck by a flood, this former German colony plays host to what’s thought to be the second biggest beer festival in the world, after Munich’s Oktoberfest. Expect samba music, sausages and traditional German dress. All together now, ‘saude’!

Great American Beer Festival, Denver

For three days in mid-October, the Queen City of the West offers up ales from over 580 breweries across the country, giving their 50,000 punters the herculean task of deciding which to plump for. Alongside the tasting, judges get down to the serious business of awarding prizes to the very best beers. Designated drivers get a look-in too with a special lounge plying them with root beers, sodas and massages.

Related article: From Munich to Bremen: the world of German beer

PINT Bokbier Festival, Amsterdam

Give sedate afternoon pints the heave-ho at Amsterdam's PINT Bokbier Festival in late October. Bokbier is the omnipresent dark, heavy drink that ranges from a staggering 6-9% alcoholic content. So beloved is the beverage, that it gets its very own moment in the sun in this annual bok booze-up. If you’re still raring to go after a few Dutch bokbiers, there are usually German and Belgium bocks on offer for the sake of comparison.

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Canada

Whet your appetite for Canadian Thanksgiving by taking part in Ontario’s nine-day celebration of beer held the week before the national holidays in late October. As well as sampling the beers and lining your stomach with fluffy pancakes, the organisers lay on a Thanksgiving Day parade that is beamed out across Canada. Elsewhere, dog-lovers can enter their canine pals in a pooch pageant at DOGtoberfest, which runs alongside the regular festival.

Freimarkt, Bremen

First held in 1035, Freimarkt in Bremen just pips Oktoberfest to the post as the oldest festival in Germany. Despite being more than 1000 years old, the atmosphere is still sprightly, with the seaside town turned into a mega street party, replete with fairground rides and plenty of the cold, frothy stuff.

Bitter and Twisted Boutique Beer Festival, Australia

Maitland Gaol used to be maximum security prison, home to south Australia’s criminals. Nowadays, beer-lovers congregate within Australia’s oldest prison to dip into craft brews at the annual Bitter and Twisted Beer Festival. As well as access to the clink - there’s a tour of the prison if you fancy it - the festival organisers lay on beer master classes and music. Just make sure you know how to escape.

Essen Kerstbierfestival, Belgium

If you want to give mulled wine and bucks fizz a wide berth, the Christmas Beer Festival in Essen, near Antwerp, Belgium, could be just the tonic. Held a week before Christmas, the organisers - the Objective Beer Drinkers of Belgium - lay on a diverse array of festive-tinged beers to put you in the holiday spirit. The drinking remains civilised with a single 15cl of your beer of choice worth a token, each costing around €1.25. Considering that most of the beers are of the strong and aromatic variety, the small measures may be a blessing in disguise. Your best bet to keep the December chill at bay is to sample some of the ubiquitous gluhkriek, Belgium’s renowned spicy, cherry beer.

Durbanville Beer Fest, South Africa

South Africa's Hillcrest estate may boast many a fine wine but come early December, the spotlight is on craft beer. This newcomer on the festival circuit is neatly positioned by a clear lake, giving beer-lovers an alternative to the usual stuffy kellers. With an emphasis on family fun, Durbanville isn’t as raucous as some long-standing beer festivals, but it offers a gentle pace and less chance of being swept into a rowdy sing-along by fancy dress-wearing revellers.