Raise a Pint to Fall Beer Festivals

Raise a Pint to Fall Beer Festivals

Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain Resort

There’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.

August

High Country Craft Food and Beverage Festival
Aug. 31, Boone
Being named one of the “Top 10 Summer Beer Festivals” by Road Trips for Beer is a pretty strong recommendation, and Boone is an ideal setting with its scenic mountain setting and laid-back university town vibe. In addition to local brews, this festival also brings in a number of well-known regional and national breweries, and livens things up with food and down-home music.

Raleigh Beer Week
Aug. 25 – Sept. 1, Raleigh
In addition to being the state capital, Raleigh also has deemed itself “America’s Smartest Beer Drinking City” and underscores its claim with Raleigh Beer Week, an event-packed eight days devoted to beer. Plan on packing your schedule with numerous tastings of local brews, beer dinners and other brew-oriented happenings.

September

Brewgrass Festival
Sept. 21, Asheville
Having reigned four straight years as “Beer City USA,” the eclectic mountain town of Asheville is a nationally recognized hotbed of craft brewing, with more than 18 breweries up and running. The Brewgrass Festival is one of the state’s longest running and best known beer-based events at which brewers present their wares against a backdrop of music from regional and national acts. An important tip: Tickets for this event go on sale online in June and usually sell out immediately, so plan accordingly, or take a chance on scoring a ticket at the gate.

Co-Hops Beer Fest
Sept. 21, 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.

Lake Norman Beer Festival
Sept. 21, Cornelius
Expect more than 50 beers from an array of local, national and international breweries, with local bands contributing to what’s billed as “an amazing party.” Check out the special Home Brew Tent where an expert brews beer throughout the day and instructs festival-goers on how to concoct a batch at home.

French Broad Brew Fest
Sept. 28, 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 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.

October

Since 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 Tanglewood Park near Winston-Salem (Sept. 21), at the N.C. Music Factory in Charlotte (Sept. 28), in downtown Asheville (Oct. 12), and on top of Sugar Mountain (Oct. 12 – 13).

Look for a different spin on the classic in Raleigh at Casktoberfest (Oct. 3), where revelers test cask-conditioned brews in a beer hall atmosphere with appropriate German cuisine.

World Beer Festival
Oct. 5, 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 Festival
Oct. 19, 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.

November

Black Friday Cask Festival
Nov. 29, 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

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