by Madison Fisler Lewis
Aug. 14, 2014. On Saturday, Aug. 30, it is all about the brews. High Country Beer Fest returns at the end of the month to benefit the Appalachian State University Fermentation Sciences program, and to benefit thirsty beer lovers with a big taste for education.
The High Country Beer Fest enters its seventh year this year, held at the High Country Fairgrounds, located at 748 Roby Greene Rd. in Boone. The festival makes the move to its new venue after greatly outgrowing its previous venue at the Broyhill Event and Conference Center at ASU.
“With having the beer festival at the fairgrounds, we can sell about 1,000 more tickets that we could in previous years,” said Brett Taubman, who founded the event seven years ago and continues to organize the festival each year.
“Before, we would sell out about two weeks before the event, but we have 2,500 tickets for sale this year and so far we have sold about 1,000. There were always people clamoring for tickets after they sold out in past years, and if we don’t completely sell out this year we will be coming pretty darn close to it!”
The entire event benefits the Appalachian State University Fermentation Sciences program, and helps to fund scholarships, materials, supplies, equipment and other needs during the year for the 100 students in the program that have declared majors and a few dozen that participate in the fermentation science concentration.
The festival has certainly grown from its humble roots, with the first event boasting just a few hundred people.
“I think the first year we had 350 come, so it has grown tenfold at this point,” Taubman said. “I think we probably could have grown it bigger, but we wanted to keep it as a boutique festival and it really is an education event and a fundraising event. We want to keep it clean and safe and fun, but it still needs to be big enough so that the brewers feel justified coming out here.”
While the brews will certainly be flowing freely, this festival is about much more than tasting the latest and greatest bubbles, though that is certainly a highlight for most of us. From 3-7 p.m., the event allows guests to also sample delicious craft food, listen to great local music and enjoy seminars to learn more about your favorite cold ones.
While the event is known for the varied breweries that come each year, Taubman maintains that the most unique component of the festival is the educational seminars.
“Traditionally, we have covered food and beer pairings, styles, how to grow hops and brewing information, We try to bring different experts to talk about all aspects of beer,” Taubman said. “This year, we are simplifying the seminars to a degree. We are doing cheese and beer pairings and a beer and pizza pairing sponsored by Mellow Mushroom. We are also doing a beer and dessert pairing with Appalachian Cookie Company.”
Live music this year will be provided by Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition, Cary Hudson and Grayson Capps and local favorites The Worthless Son-in-Laws.
Alongside all the fun, there will also be various food vendors to satisfy any grumbly tummies. Appalachia Cookie Company will be serving up high quality, artisanal cookies and brownies ranging from the traditional to the eclectic. Basil’s Market features local ingredients, fresh pasta, innovative pairings and a great food selection to boot. Casa Rustica will be serving up some of the delicious recipes handed down for generations in the Pedroni family. Farm to Flame, from the brains behind Appalachian Mountain Brewery will offer up wood fired pizzas with ingredients sourced from local farms. The food truck even features solar panels and uses bio-diesel in keeping with AMB’s sustainable mission. The Feastie Boys food truck will offer delicious burgers, fries, tacos and more to hungry festival-goers. Green River Picklers will offer guests delicious pickles that are hand packed in small batches using local ingredients. Heritage Homestead Goat Dairy will offer up delicious goat cheeses to famished customers and Menchies will serve up yummy frozen yogurt to wash down all the delicious brews. In addition, Reid’s Catering will be on hand offering traditional favorites and ethnic flavors from all around the globe while Rose Mountain Butcher Shoppe will offer up fresh delicacies that are humanely processed, local and GMO Free. Don’t forget to stop by and grab some treats from Stick Boy Bread Company, whether it is a tasty bread item, barbecue or dessert.
“As always, we try to keep this the safest event possible,” Taubman said. “We absolutely do not want people to drink and drive. There will be bus service from downtown from the Rivers Street circle, and the buses will run continuously from 2-8 p.m. There will be a free taxi service as always, so even if you drive out there and you have a few too many, you can still have a safe ride home. If you want to get your car home too, we have free towing services anywhere in town. We try to encourage people to take advantage of the taxi and bus services. If you don’t need to drive, don’t. And we encourage people to take advantage of the designated driver tickets too!”
Tickets for the event are $40 for general admission and $10 for designated drivers. Tickets can be purchased here or at Peabody’s and Benchmark Provisions. For more information about this event visit the website here.
This year there will be tons of brews flowing, with many local hometown names as well as labels you may not recognize from all over the nation. Participating breweries include the following:
Appalachian Mountain Brewery – Boone
Aviator Brewing Company – Fuquay-Varina
Blind Squirrel Brewery – Plumtree
Blowing Rock Brewing Company – Blowing Rock
Blue Moon Brewing Company – Colorado
Blue Point Brewing Company – New York
Bold Rick Hard Cider – Virginia
Boondocks Brewing – West Jefferson
Brooklyn Brewery – New York
Buchi Kombucha – Asheville
Carolina Brewery – Chapel Hill
Catawba Valley Brewing – Morganton
Craft Brewers Alliance – Oregon
Crispin – California
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Delaware
Fatty Maddy Beer Company – Sugar Mountain
Fonta Flora Brewery – Morganton
Foothills Brewery – Winston-Salem
French Broad Brewing – Asheville
Goose Island Beery Company – Illinois
Granite Falls Brewing Company – Granite Falls