By Jessica Isaacs and Cramer Lewis
Tickets are still on sale for the upcoming High Country Beer Fest, which draws in a massive crowd every year to celebrate all things craft brew in the Carolinas.
Widely known as one of the most popular annual events in the Boone area, the festival is designed to benefit the fermentation sciences program at Appalachian State University.
“This is our ninth year. The festival actually helps fund research grants for students to further their research within the fermentation sciences,” said festival coordinator Charles Bateman. “We have worked really hard the past few years to provide a topnotch festival experience.”
Bateman said Beer Fest aims to further the science and research aspects of fermentation so that rising generations have access to the knowledge, equipment and research to allow them to be the future of the industry.
“This is a celebration of the movement that’s happening, not just in Boone, but the entire region. This is to ensure that we’ve got a future here in western North Carolina for pushing the envelope and this is the right environment to do it in. An event like this really moves the needle for that endeavor.”
Beer Fest has been a sell-0ut every year since its inception, and coordinators expect this year’s event to be no exception. Many of the 2,600 total tickets have already been sold, and the few remaining are going fast.
Hosted on the High Country Fairgrounds, the fun will take place from 3-7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 and will feature a variety of craft beer, food, educational seminars and live music.
“We provide shuttles from around 1 p.m. and they last until 8:30 p.m. or so. People can even leave their cars and get them the next day,” Bateman said. “Even though the beer shuts off at 7 p.m., we’ll be having music and serving coffee and goodies until then.”
“Eight or nine food vendors are going to be out there serving food throughout the day. One of our favorites is a dumpling truck that comes from Raleigh. The food is going to be incredible.”
The festival has also teamed up with Mellow Mushroom to host a beer and pizza pairing seminar.
The entirely nonprofit event will also support local organizations like High Country Local First, High Country Mommies, Blue Ridge Conservancy, Middle Fork Greenway Association, The Mountain Alliance and Ivory Tower, Inc.
Performances will feature live music from the Backsliders, the Worthless Son-in-Laws and the Dead of Winter.
The festival will showcase breweries from the High Country and beyond.
“We’ve got 52 breweries lined up. We encourage them to bring one or two beers that are interesting and fun. There’s going to be some new breweries coming up this year that nobody’s ever tried,” said Bateman. “We will have artisans there talking about what you should be looking for whenever you pair foods and beer.”
Although stipulations set forth by state legislators forced several participating breweries to back out of last year’s festivities at the last minute, Bateman said steps have been taken to ensure the festival goes off without a hitch this time around.
“We want to earn people’s trust back. We want to make Beer Fest great again. We want them to know we are nonprofit,” he explained. “This is an all volunteer army. We work with numerous clubs on campus and other groups throughout the region. I can unequivocally say this will be the best Beer Fest we’ve ever had.”
Tickets are on sale now for $40 general admission, $80 VIP and only $10 for designated drivers.
“It is a true kind of festival atmosphere. Boone doesn’t have a food festival, so this is probably the closest thing to it that you can find. We think we bring some unique flavor that you cannot find in other events,” said Bateman. “It’s that kind of boutique, quaint mountain festival. I think that’s why we have received such great press and why people want to come back year after year.”
Buy your tickets online at hcbeerfest.com or grab them in person at Peabody’s Beer and Wine on N.C. Highway 105 or at Benchmark Provisions in downtown Boone.
Participating breweries include:
- Appalachian Mountain Brewery | Boone
- Aviator Brewing Company | Fuquay-Varina
- Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits | San Diego, California
- Beech Mountain Brewing | Beech Mountain
- Bhramari Brewhouse | Asheville
- Big Boss Brewing Company | Raleigh
- Birdsong Brewing Company | Charlotte
- Blind Squirrel Brewery | Plumtree
- Blowing Rock Brewery | Blowing Rock
- Blue Blaze Brewing Company | Charlotte
- Blue Moon | Golden, Colorado
- Blue Point Brewing Company | Patchogue, New York
- Blueprint Brewing Company | Apex, North Carolina
- Bold Rock Hard Cider | Nellysford, Virginia
- Boondocks Brewing | West Jefferson
- Booneshine Brewing | Boone
- Brown Truck Brewery | High Point
- Carolina Brewery | Chapel Hill
- Catawba Brewing Company | Morganton
- Fonta Flora Brewery | Morganton
- Foothills | Winston-Salem
- Fortnight Brewing Company | Cary
- Good Wood | Lousville, Kentucky
- Goose Island | Chicago, Illinois
- Granite Falls Brewing Company | Granite Falls
- Great Lakes Brewing Company | Cleveland, Ohio
- Green Man Brewery | Asheville
- Harpoon Brewery | Boston, Massachusetts
- Hi-Wire Brewing | Asheville
- Howard Brewing | Lenoir
- Innovation Brewing | Sylva
- Ivory Tower Brewery | Boone
- Liberty | High Point
- Lost Province Brewing Company | Boone
- Natty Greene’s Brewing Company | Greensboro
- New Belgium Brewing | Asheville
- Newgrass | Shelby
- Nicklepoint Brewing | Raleigh
- Noble Cider | Asheville
- Olde Hickory Brewery | Hickory
- Oskar Blues Brewery | Brevard
- River Rat Brewery | Columbia, South Carolina
- Sanctuary Brewing Company | Hendersonville
- Shock Top | St. Louis, Missouri
- Sierra Nevada | Mills River
- Southern Tier Brewing Company | Lakewood, New York
- Stout Brewing Company | Kings Mountain
- White Street Brewing Company | Wake Forest