Starting as a 3,000-person festival 12 years ago, the Atlantic City Beer and Music Fest has only gotten better with age, evolving into an event with over 25,000 attendees annually. Rated the No. 2 beer festival in the nation by USA Today, it’s too good to miss. But don’t head there unprepared — we’ve helped you narrow down the six best bets for the A.C. Beer and Music Fest.
1. Sip frequently and responsibly.You don’t go to a beer festival to sample skim milk — unless, of course, you’re a designated driver, in which case, we thank you, and suggest you go for some H20 instead. You go to a beer festival for the beer. And there is no shortage of that at the A.C. Beer and Music Fest. In addition to showcasing local breweries — think 7 Mile, Cape May Brewing Company, Glasstown, Garden State Beer Company, Slack Tide and Tuckahoe — there will be beers there from across the country and the world. From Schofferhofer (Germany) to Terrapin (Georgia) to New Belgium (Colorado) and Muskoka (Canada), there is a jaw-dropping amount of beer. There’s no way to sample it all, but if you’re willing to responsibly try, we suggest tiny sips. Lots of tiny sips.
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2. Jam out to a top notch lineup. There are three musical sessions available for festival ticketholders: 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, March 31; noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 1; and 6 to 10 p.m. also on Saturday. Each session has its own incredible lineup of musical guests. Session one headliner is Flogging Molly — which is a good enough reason to get there — but you can also hear Skinny Lister, Residuels, Jared Hart, Tyler Matthews, Matty Carlock and Ken Shiles & CiBon. Session two features The Front Bottoms, as well as Thin Lips, American Trappist, Vinnie Caruana, Kevin Day, Argo and Swooncellar. Finally, Session three features Streetlight Manifesto, Nonstop to Cairo, Sensamotion, Jay D. Clark, Shaun LaBoy, Dynasty Marie and Squid Bros. Inc. Any choice is a good one; go with your gut.
3. Fill your belly. If you’re already wondering how you’re going to stash a cold sandwich in your skinny jeans, relax — the A.C. Beer and Music Fest has you covered. Food vendors include Hi-Point Pub, Broadway Burger Bar, Tony’s Baltimore Grill, The Continental, Vagabond, Chickie’s & Pete’s, The Cow and The Curd and Harry’s Oyster Bar & Seafood. Basically, there’s something for everyone, and then some.
4. Run off the calories. Beer, music, food and running? It may not be your first thought, but as it turns out, it’s a match made in beer heaven. For the second year, the A.C. Beer and Music Fest is host of the Hops Trot 5K. Presented by DelMo Sports and Good Time Tricycle, the Hops Trot takes runners from beer stop to beer stop before crossing the finish line into the festival. Stops include Ruth’s Chris Atlantic City, Bungalow on The Boardwalk, Chickie’s & Pete’s, Ducktown Tavern Satellite Bar, Monkey Bar and Harry’s Oyster Bar. Throw on your running shoes and get ready for a victory ale — there will be plenty to choose from.
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5. Bring your wallet.Your festival ticket ($55 plus fees) gets you all the beer you can responsibly drink. But it doesn’t get you merchandise. And who doesn’t like to treat themselves to a novelty T-shirt now and then? Lucky for us, there are vendors aplenty at the festival, with products ranging from reclaimed wood art and bacon jams to drinking barrels and clothing. Can’t find something you like? Have another drink. You’ll get there.
6. Expect the unexpected.How do you want to spend your time? Is it in a beer cocktail seminar or in the retro gaming lounge? Would you rather play giant corn hole or stretch with some pints and poses? Enter a wing war competition or a motorized toilet race? From silent disco to fireside meltdown, there’s so much to do at the A.C. Beer and Music Fest, you could forget to drink your beer — though you probably won’t.