Asheville Beer Fests Slay Seattle's Own
Editor Note: Timperial is apparently moving to Asheville after writing this slander. Stone him at will, Seattle.
When I was in Asheville, NC last week I had the great fortune to attend the Winter Warmer Beer Fest. It was held in the Civic Center right downtown and it was a blast!
Lately, I’ve been a bit disillusioned with Washington beers fests. I feel that they are overpriced and mostly underwhelming in most cases. I feel like there is rarely a lot of new and/or exciting beers to try. Most local breweries that attend these festivals seem to be inconvenienced and just show up to show up. Most times, I feel that our breweries only provide one or two options and in many cases, those options are standard offerings that we have all had many times before or that we could acquire, outside of the event, with little effort.
Even at some of WA’s finest beer fests like Washington Brewers Festival, the only way that you can get the extreme beers that are available is by being a WABL member or by paying extra and seeking out the ever elusive Buzz Cart. Does this not seem ridiculous to you? Why are we hiding the best beers of our state? If I owned a brewery I would want to knock the socks off of everyone in the crowd and gather up some hype about my product. I’d want people to have access to my best and most exciting products at these festivals. That’s what the festivals are really about anyway – creating new customers.
Washington can learn a lot about how it should be done by checking out how the South does it. The Winter Warmer Beer Fest cost $35 to get in. Yes, I’ll admit, initially, that is pretty expensive. There is a huge “but” though. Once you get in the door, you will only have to spend more money if you choose to purchase merchandise from the vendors or breweries. You get 2, yes 2, meal tickets with entrance. There was 2 separate lines for food that you could get in to use your meal tickets. The first offered an entire plate of h’orderves and antipasto. The second was more of a “meal” and offered salad and meat and pasta. I’m not sure if I mentioned this but the 2 (!) meals are included in the $35 entrance fee. Wow!
Some breweries in the room only had 3 offerings, but most had 4 and several had up to 7 options. Nearly every brewery had at least 1 special brew. Many had rotating specialties, where they would post a schedule at their booth of when what brews would be tapped. There were probably around 6 Belgian sours, 10+ barrel aged beers, many imperials and specialty beers… it was insane. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Oh, speaking of, did I not mention that the tasting glass that we received upon entrance could hold 8oz and that you could drink as much beer as you wanted? Yeah, that’s right. There’s no such thing as tasting tickets or tokens at this fest. You drink as many samples as you want. You determine how much they fill your glass. I’ll stop now and allow you to ponder this further on your own.
Washington, get your shit together!