17 Aug 2009 @ 9:16 AM 

The Greensboro Summertime Brews Festival in photos:

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Good times. I really appreciate indoor beer festivals, and for a couple of reasons:

First off, climate control is your friend. It’s nice to be able to drink beer and NOT be in the blazing heat. The World Beer Festivals in Durham and Raleigh are some of my favorite festivals ever, but when it’s hot you can get drained pretty damn quick. It’s fairly often that I come home from the WBF with a sunburn.

Second, indoor bathrooms always win over port-a-johns.

Last of all, the most magical thing about indoor beer festivals – no smoking. No offense to smokers, but I’m here to taste the beer. Smoking kills your palate. It also kills mine, so I’m happy to taste with as few cigarettes around as possible.

Quick note for people making beer festival programs: Maps and/or booth numbers are nice. Sometimes you’re sitting around going, “Okay, I can see from this list that My Favorite Brewery is here, but where the hell are they?” and they’re hiding behind some bunting or something – maps and numbers help plan what you’re looking for.

Also? Room for notes. Good heavens – room for notes. I might even suggest putting a notes column down the side of the alphabetical list of breweries so that you can look a brewery up and write a note about the beer right there. It makes it a lot easier for people to appreciate the beer now and later.

For whatever reason, I felt like there was a higher percentage of drink-to-get-drunk people at this festival than normal, but to be honest it’s been a while since I’ve been to a smaller festival. Maybe they were just more noticeable. I always consider it a bad sign when you’ve got someone staggering around with a beer-soaked shirt and you’re only an hour or so into a four-hour session.

That said, I really quite enjoyed this. I was pleased to see that a lot of breweries took the time to roll out a special cask or keg specifically for the festival, it was quite a treat. Of particular note were:

Natty Greene’s Southern Ale, wet-hopped with fresh Cascade hops (grown in Mebane, NC) – I understand that it may be making another appearance later in the fall.

Foothills had hourly rollouts of some of their brews aged in Pappy van Winkle barrels. I missed the first two, but the Sexual Chocolate was excellent.

Olde Hickory also had an English Barleywine aged in a bourbon barrel that was excellent – far smoother than without aging – that had just a ton of wonderful vanilla character.

(Next up, I’d like to see somebody age a beer in a barrel that wasn’t used for bourbon previously.)

All in all, the beer that I took away with me the most was Holy Mackerel’s Mack in Black – I had never tried it before and was really impressed. Also saw two local(ish) breweries that I had never heard of before (Boone Brewing Company from Boone, NC and RJ Rockers from Spartanburg, SC – “Beer is Art” is a nice tagline), and was surprised to NOT see most of the North Carolina breweries, especially those who were just an hour-or-so drive away.

It was the first time I’d gone to this festival, with luck, it won’t be the last.


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