If you’re going to hold a festival of beer culture, where do you hold it? If you answered “in a brewery,” then you’re absolutely right. In Vienna’s case, the city’s giant Ottakringer brewery in the 16th district.
- Features Ottakringer’s own (craft) beers plus guest breweries
- Includes live music, food, and other bonuses
- 2021 dates: TBA (usually July & August), with free entry (but not free beer)
- Typically open daily from 4.30pm
- See also: Craft Beer Festival | Vienna Beer Festival | Beer in Austria
As a long-time active observer of the Vienna beer scene (someone has to do it), I’ve become an admirer of Ottakringer, the city’s main brewery.
In recent years, Ottakringer have added a rather fine craft beer arm to their product palette. And the brewery premises host all sorts of excellent cultural events, such as Vinyl & Music or the Rum and Gin Festivals.
The pinnacle of the annual calendar at Ottakringer is probably their own Festival of Beer Culture (German: Braukultur-Wochen). I go every year with my neighbour.
The large brewery forecourt fills with tables, benches, beer tents and food stalls, all spreading out in front of a stage:
But this is not simply an outdoor drinking event.
First, while you can consume Ottakringer’s own standard beers, their Brauwerk craft beer line produces a range of porters, pale ales, fruit beers, and more.
Second, you can consume someone else’s beer, too, thanks to the guest brewery (which changes every couple of days or so). These are usually small or specialist breweries from the provinces or overseas.
Around 18 national and international guest breweries joined the 2019 Festival of Beer Culture, for example, at some point. Among the more exotic guests were Sakiškiųalus from Lithuania, Fierce & Noble from the UK, and Alexander from Israel.
Third, the stage serves more than just a decorative purpose, with live performances from bands and singers (usually Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm).
And fourth, there’s food, too, so you have something to wash down with the beer. Think the kind of snacks and meals that fit with Austrian beer culture (e.g. sausages, schnitzel and spare ribs) with little touches of eclecticism (e.g. trout burgers and veggie burgers).
A few bonus experiences round off the festival, such as amateur music nights where anyone willing to go up on stage and give it a go with voice, instrument or band gets a case of beer for their trouble. I have yet to participate, because they’d need to give the audience free beer to cope.
And in good news for visitors to Vienna: each year I’ve been you could enjoy a free English-speaking tour of the brewery (twice a week).
2021 dates & tickets
The Festival of Beer Culture typically runs daily from early July to late August or early September. Opening times are usually from 4pm to midnight. Entry is free, but the beer and food isn’t (obviously).
The 2020 event could not take place due to national event restrictions. The last I heard, Ottakringer were working on some kind of pared-down alternative, though.
How to get to the beer festival
The Ottakringer brewery is in Vienna’s 16th district (called Ottakring), but easily reached by subway or tram.
Subway: take the U3 out to Ottakring station and walk down Ottakringer Straße back toward the city centre (or jump on the 44 tram that goes down the same street)
Tram: Take the 2, 9 or 44 trams to Johann-Nepomuk-Berger-Platz, a stop practically outside the brewery. The 44 leaves from Schottentor in the city center, for example, and the 2 leaves from various stops around the Ringstrassen boulevard that rings the old town.
Address: Ottakringer Platz 1, 1160 Vienna | Website