Before we left for New York, Bologna had a beer festival in Palazzo Re Enzo (the big Castle in the center).
Like most Italian things, it wasn't publicized. I saw a little ad tucked away in a cafe` the day before. So we gathered some friends, not really knowing what to expect other than the fact that you could drink beer in a big castle. And in all honesty, that's all we needed to know!
This year was the first year they held this festival in Bologna (this traveling festival also hit Rome and Milan). The cost was relatively cheap, €7 and that included your beer tasting glass and a handy little yellow carrier, and each beer you tried was €1. Even though New York was on the horizon - spending the night drinking beer in a medieval castle? That's a no brainer.
I'm not sure if it will be back in Bologna next year, but the festival consisted of local Italian micro breweries, and they traveled around the country together. If you're interested in finding out more details for 2010, you can check out the Italia Beer Festival Associazione Degustatori Birra (or click here for the English version).