Raise a Pint to Fall Beer FestivalsStewart Waller | Durham Convention & Visitors BureauThe World Beer Festival in Durham features more than 300 craft beers for samplingThere’s something around North Carolina perhaps best described as a “brew-spirit” that occurs when willing taste buds collide with lovingly created craft brews coming from 100 breweries. These local beers often capture and hint at places and things that make an area special, and certainly lend unique flavor to them.Some of the best places to experience this spirit are the beer festivals that dot the Tar Heel landscape in the fall. In addition to presenting opportunities to sample multiple craft brews, most of the festivals also feature food and live entertainment. Many also benefit local charities.Tickets for most festivals are limited, so it’s wise to plan in advance and purchase early.SeptemberCo-Hops Beer FestSept. 6, Burlington This gathering sponsored by a community-owned grocery co-op bills itself as “a North Carolina only mix-a-six festival” where attendees sample the state’s craft beers and take home a six-pack of local brews. The setting in downtown Burlington is an pleasant stroll from the Burlington Amtrak Station, making access easy and carefree from Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle.Brewgrass FestivalSept. 20, Asheville The long-running and well-known Brewgrass Festival features more than 40 American breweries showcasing 120 different beers against a backdrop of sounds from national and regional bluegrass musicians. The event is held in the eclectic mountain town of Asheville, which reigned four straight years as “Beer City USA” and is home to more craft more breweries per capita than any U.S. city.Charlotte BeerfestSept. 20, Charlotte Come "play beer" at the new BB&T Ballpark where the Charlotte Knights now play ball. The evening event showcases 100 craft beers from local, national and international breweries and live music from Blues Traveler, Simplified and Charity Case. The fun in the shadow of Charlotte’s skyscrapers includes a commemorative sampling glass and games and concessions.Charlotte OktoberfestSept. 27, Charlotte Now in its 16th year, Charlotte Oktoberfest is one of the largest beer festivals in the Southeast and was named one of the Top 10 fall beer festivals in the country in 2010. This year's event is back at the N.C. Music Factory and will feature more than 350 beers from 100+ regional, national and international breweries, including approximately 40 craft breweries from North Carolina. The festival also will include food vendors and live music from StellaRising and U-phonik.French Broad Brew FestSept. 27, Hot Springs Not far from Asheville is quaint Hot Springs, which has attracted visitors to its mineral springs for more than 200 years and is a popular stop-over for hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Your ticket entitles you to unlimited beer samplings throughout the day from about 20 local and regional breweries, camping, nearly 12 hours of music and a beautiful venue. Food vendors also are on hand to feed the masses.OctoberSince 1810, the Oktoberfest has been celebrated more than 16 days in Munich, Germany to pay tribute to beer. Around North Carolina, there are a number of opportunities to put on your lederhosen, dance a polka and enjoy beer accompanied by traditional German fare. There’s an Oktoberfest in downtown Asheville (Oct. 11) and on top of Sugar Mountain (Oct. 11 – 12). You can also try a different spin on the classic in Raleigh at Casktoberfest (Oct. 2), where revelers test cask-conditioned brews in a beer hall atmosphere with appropriate German cuisine.World Beer FestivalOct. 11, Durham The appreciation of beer is the central theme of the long-running World Beer Festival, which is sponsored by Beer Magazine and dedicated to exploring ingredients, brewing methods and the history behind beer styles. Admission gets you unlimited samples from more than 300 selected craft brews, entry into the Art of Beer Village for food and beer pairings, educational seminars and music from area bands.Lighthouse Beer and Wine FestivalOct. 18, Wilmington The port city of Wilmington, where history says pirates might have enjoyed an ale or two, gets into the act with the Lighthouse Beer Festival. The festival, always held on the third Saturday of October and embracing more than 100 craft breweries, now culminates a week-long series of beer dinners, tastings and special activities around town.NovemberBlack Friday Cask FestivalNov. 28, Durham If you prefer sipping to shopping the day after Thanksgiving, this is the perfect event. Join other brew enthusiasts at Triangle Brewing Company to sample specialty keg beers from North Carolina breweries, many specially dry hopped with unique ingredients added. Food trucks and a DJ add to the atmosphere.Please drink responsibly and travel safely while on your visit to our North Carolina breweries and festivals. Note that a number of the festivals offer special tickets for designated drivers.Gary Carter is an Asheville-based travel writer who covers a range of topics for magazines, online publications and his blog, Eliot’s Tales 4 Gen B.