Dani at the NYS Brewers Festival
Beer & Wine,  Special Events,  Syracuse

Mark Your Calendars with All the Brewfests in Syracuse and Central New York

With the annual New York State Brewer’s Conference starting today, it’s the perfect time to take a look at Syracuse’s craft beer scene. The local beer community has been booming for the past several years, much like in other cities across the country. And while it seems like such a dense market would create too much competition among local brewers, it has done the exact opposite. The craft beer community is one of the most collaborative and supportive industries there is. Attend any of the Syracuse brewfests throughout the year and the sense of community is obvious. Plus, they are always a ton of fun!

It’s still so strange to think that just ten years ago I never drank beer. I hated it. But after several… hundred… times hearing “Here, try this” from my husband, I discovered my beer preferences! Wits, wheats, hefeweizens, stouts, porters, and cask ales. And now? Now I run social media and events for multiple craft breweries. Plus I’m the liaison between the NYS Brewers Association and the CNY Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

As always, please drink responsibly!

Fire & Ice Fest

When: First Saturday in March
This year’s festival was held on March 4, 2023. Next year’s festival will be on March 2, 2024.

Where: Prison City Brewery – Auburn, NY

What makes it special: As part of the weekend-long Brave Brews Fest, this festival has ice sculptures, fire dancers, live music, fireworks, and more.

Ticket price range: $35

Prison City’s Fire & Ice Fest is the culmination of a weekend celebrating women in the craft beer industry. It is both the “hottest” and the “coolest” event in the local beer community. Beer, wine, and liquor from New York makers are available for sampling throughout the evening. Guests can enjoy ice sculptures – including skeeball and cornhole carved from ice, fire dancers, fire pits, fireworks… See the pattern? Don’t miss the fire & ice tower lighting at the end of the night. Honestly, it’s one of the most fun and unique beerfests I have ever attended. I highly recommend it to everyone! Just remember to dress warm as this festival is held outside during the winter.

Can’t get enough? Attend the Pink Boots Brew Day at Prison City the day before the festival!

CNY Brewfest

When: July
This year’s brewfest is on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

Where: Horticulture Building at the NYS Fairgrounds – Syracuse, NY

What makes it special: CNY Brewfest is the largest and longest-running brewfest in Syracuse.

Ticket price range: $50 – $70
Designated Driver tickets available for $20.
Tickets can be purchased at a variety of Syracuse breweries and beer stores.

Now in its 26th year, CNY Brewfest is celebrating with 2 days of festivities. The fun kicks off Friday with a special VIP party. The event is more intimate than the sessions on Saturday, with about a third of the beer offerings available. But it’s a better chance to try rarer, harder-to-find beers and network with the local beer community.

On Saturday, choose from 2 sessions, afternoon and evening, to attend. Both sessions include live music and access to sample over 100 different beers. VIP ticket holders can upgrade their tickets for early access to either session. That means fewer crowds and more time to sample.

Brite Vibes

When: July
This year’s festival will be July 14 & 15, 2023.

Where: Heritage Hill Brewhouse – Pompey, NY

What makes it special: Brite Vibes is a day-long outdoor festival filled with live music, artisans, food trucks, and camping.

Ticket price range: TBD
Designated Driver/Youth tickets available for the festival.

Brite Vibes screams summer. To start, attendees can choose to camp at the festival grounds (on Heritage Hill’s property), allowing for maximum enjoyment and no driving home. The setting is easily the most beautiful of any of the local brewfests, as it overlooks the rolling hills of Pompey. The list of activities for the festival goes on and on. Brewery tours, keg throwing competitions, live music, food trucks, fireworks… And since the festival is family-friendly, there’s something for everyone.

Drink Like a Girl Lake Fest

When: The last Saturday in July
This year’s festival is on Saturday July 29, 2023.

Where: Seneca Lake – Geneva, NY

What makes it special: Drink Like A Girl celebrates women in the craft beer industry.

Ticket price range: TBD

Drink Like a Girl was started by Kelly Guilfoyle in 2020, honoring the anniversary of the 19th Amendment and celebrating women in the craft beer industry. While Kelly both hosts and attends brewfests and beer-related events year-round, her biggest event is the Drink Like a Girl Lake Fest. And while it is centered around women, everyone is invited!

Held yearly at the end of July, the festival combines craft beer with women empowerment and a run/walk. Guests can choose to add the 5k run/walk to their event ticket; participants will receives prizes in a variety of categories. There’s also a 1k option that includes 4 stops to sample craft beer. Live music is provided by local female artists and attendees can support local food and merch vendors.

As for the brewfest, all of the beer is brought in from NYS breweries. Over 30 breweries participate, each sampling at least 2 beers.

Rosamond Gifford’s Brew at the Zoo

When: The first Friday in August
This year’s festival is on Friday, August 4, 2023.

Where: Rosamond Gifford Zoo – Syracuse, NY

What makes it special: Isn’t it obvious? You get to drink beer while meandering through the zoo and saying hello to all the animals!

Ticket price range: TBD

Brew at the Zoo has been a longtime favorite of beer lovers in Syracuse. I really can’t think of many better plans on a Friday night than walking around the zoo drinking beer with my friends. Can you? Sampling stations are set up throughout the zoo, ideal for thinning out the crowds and pacing the samples. Live music and food trucks fill the main picnic area at the center of the zoo.

Additionally, a silent auction takes place in the main building to help fundraise for the zoo.

Utica Zoo’s Brewfest

When: The first Saturday in August
This year’s festival is on Saturday, August 5, 2023.

Where: Utica Zoo – Utica, NY

Ticket price range: $45 – $55 (discount available for zoo members)
Designated Driver tickets are available for $25.

Unsurprisingly, Brew at the Zoo is not a concept unique to Syracuse. Seriously – what’s better than enjoying adult beverages and saying hello to cute animals? Like the festival in Syracuse, Utica Zoo hosts their own brewfest – just one day later. Heck, you could make a full weekend out of drinking beer with animals.

Similarly, the Utica Zoo Brewfest features live music and food trucks. But their ticket includes food samples from a variety of vendors as well as soda and water stations. The beer stations are also more centralized under large tents with several vendors. Like Syracuse, there is also a fundraising silent auction.

Utica Zoo also hosts a wine-centered event. Wine in the Wilderness takes place on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

Amazing Beer Fest at the Ballpark

When: September
The date for the 2023 festival is yet to be announced.

Where: Syracuse Mets’ NBT Stadium – Syracuse, NY

What makes it special: Attendees can enjoy a crisp fall day wandering around the Syracuse Mets’ stadium.

Ticket price range: TBD

The “Amazing Beer Fest at the Ballpark” is a true sign of Fall in Syracuse. Breweries set up tables throughout the main level of the Syracuse Mets’ stadium, including at the bar areas on each end. Guests enjoy the open-air brewfest – and get their steps in as they make their way to each station! Given the unique venue, there is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy themselves with drinking beer and liquor samples.

NYS Cask Ale Fest

When: October
The date for the 2023 festival is yet to be announced.

Where: Woodland Farm Brewery – Marcy, NY

What makes it special: Several local breweries create cask ales specifically to serve at this festival.

Ticket price range: $50 – $60
Designated Driver tickets available for $10.

Just as fall really begins to set in, Woodland Farm Brewery invites you to take a trip to England. Not literally, of course, but in spirit. How? By sampling a variety of cask ales made specifically for the Cask Ale Fest. That means attendees at this brewfest often have the chance to try one-of-a-kind beers.

NYS Craft Brewers Festival – Syracuse

When: November
The date for this year’s festival has yet to be announced.

Where: Landmark Theatre – Syracuse, NY

What makes it special: It’s located in one of the most beautiful, historic theaters and the beer is all poured by brewery staff (not volunteers).

Ticket price range: $60 – $70
Designated Driver tickets are available for $15.

Hosted by the New York State Brewer’s Association, this festival is one of a series of brewer’s festivals across the state. (The others being in Buffalo, Albany, and NYC.) Brewers from every corner of the state fill three floors of the historic Landmark Theatre in Syracuse. Visitors can enjoy over 100 different beers from more than 55 NYS breweries. It’s one of the biggest and best brewfests in Syracuse – and for good reason.

Tell me your thoughts!