Why is Winterfest One of the Most Popular Festivals of the Year? Let’s Count The Reasons

Why is Winterfest One of the Most Popular Festivals of the Year? Let’s Count The Reasons

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

The year is new – who knows what great things could be coming our way. You’d like to build through the year, things getting bigger and better as we move from winter to spring to summer. But for many people in Indiana, the highlight of the “year in beer” takes place right off the bat – Winterfest at the State Fairgrounds is the best festival of the year for a boatload of Hoosiers.

Maybe it’s because it occurs in January (Jan. 31 and Feb.1 this year) when not much else is going on. Maybe it’s because the festival season slows down during November, December, and January, and people have a long time to look forward to this big festival. Maybe it’s because it is the biggest festival in Indiana that isn’t held under the scorching sun in the middle of summer. For whatever reason, Winterfest, as presented by the Brewers of Indiana Guild, is a blast.

image credit: Brewers of Indiana guild

Craft beer mavens and craft beer newbies, people that go to 25 festivals a year and people that attend only two beer events per annum, they all seem to gravitate toward Winterfest. I’m sure you’re hooked by now, so let’s give you the ticketing link so you can move on with your life (https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/5780/brewers-of-indiana-guild-festivals). But if you want to know more, here’s a list of the reasons that Winterfest is so popular each year:

1. This is a central Indiana location at the West Pavilion at the State Fairgrounds that provides more than enough parking, good in and out privileges for Ubers/Lyfts, and more than enough room inside to keep from being crowded.

2. The original art and animation for Winterfest is new each year and produced by Guide & Anchor, the company of Joey and Sara Potts.

3. Pre-banding at Tomlinson Taproom and Sun King – Broad Ripple alleviates much of the line standing before the festival session.

4. It’s the middle of winter and you’re not cold.

You know, those pretzels aren’t helping your look, unless your trying to attract deer. image credit: Brewers of Indiana Guild

5. There’s more than 250 beers to choose from in both sessions combined.

6. You have a chance to try beer from 100 Indiana breweries, the most ever found in one place at one time.

7. One of those 250 beers will be “Cultivated Thoughts” the Beer Brigade/Brewers of Indiana North Region collaboration beer produced at Bare Hands Brewery. As stated by the Guild, “This Hazy DIPA features the Glitter Unicorn Octopus Friend hop blend created exclusively by the Brewers of Indiana Guild North Region.”

8. There are two sessions to choose from, but who says you have to choose – you can get a break if you buy tickets to both sessions at the same time.

9. You can save good money by ordering the two-day package. You can also save by going in with friends and ordering 10+ tickets together.

10. The Friday night session has shorter lines and rare beers that won’t be served on Saturday.

image credit: Brewers of Indiana Guild

11. The Friday night session allows more time to spend with the breweries since fewer people (relatively) attend.

12. The Saturday session has thousands of your friends and a more party-like atmosphere.

13. There will likely be 7-10 cheers on Saturday as someone drops their glass, and/or 5-7 “wave” cheers as the festivities wear on.

14. There’s a cask ale booth on Saturday to get you one-off beers that won’t ever be served anywhere else, ever again.

15. $3 from every ticket sold goes to charity. Joy’s House benefited to the tune of more than $14,000 from the 2019 Winterfest.

16. There are food, games, and entertainment at both sessions.

My gosh, hold old is this picture!? image credit: Nuvo

17. It’s a chance for home brewers to serve to a large crowd and get feedback on their beer – remember, these will be many of your professional brewers in the years to come.

18. There’s a good chance that someone you know will do something embarrassing and you can get it on video.


That’s a healthy number of reasons why Winterfest is so popular, but there are other reasons why Winterfest is important that don’t involve the day itself:

1. Winterfest is a major fundraiser for Brewers of Indiana Guild that supports Indiana craft beer through its education, lobbying, and testing programs.

Get pre-banded for Winterfest at Tomlinson Taproom. image credit: Brewers of Indiana Guild

2. It is a major feedback mechanism for breweries to discuss their beers with the public.

3. It’s one of the few times during the year that so many brewers and breweries can get together and talk shop (before we all enter, of course).

4. This is one of the few times of the year when brewers can try other brewers’ beer and derive inspiration for how they can move beer forward (or in a different direction) during the next year. Indiana kicks major butt in national and international competitions, and this chance to learn from one another and think about technique and innovation is a major reason why.

5. Part of the money brought in by these festivals has gone to help Indiana breweries enter and ship beer to national and international competitions. That helps promote Indiana as a great beer destination – because Indiana breweries win lots of medals.

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