Asheville Beer Week: Beer City Festival 2015

BEER CITY FUN: A large and thirsty crowd turned out for the 2015 Beer City Festival downtown on Saturday, May 30. Photo by Gina Smith

Although dark clouds occasionally threatened, the rain avoided Roger McGuire Green downtown yesterday, making it a perfect afternoon for the 2015 Beer City Festival.

Always a highlight of Asheville Beer Week, this year’s event featured more than 30 area breweries — all members of the Asheville Brewers Alliance — and at least one from out-of-state (Lagunitas Brewing Co.), and drew a large, jovial crowd.

Participating breweries were pouring unlimited sample-sized portions of their flagships as well as seasonal and one-off specialty brews. Oskar Blues Brewery poured from both cans and taps, offering standards like the Old Chub, Dale’s Pale Ale and Mama’s Lil Yella Pils alongside lesser-known brews  such as its Priscilla wheat ale. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. had its Kellerweis wheat ale on tap along with the better-known flagships, and at the Southern Appalachian Brewery tent, a Belgian artisanal amber aged in wine barrels with raspberries attracted a nonstop flow of takers.

Waiting in lines was part of the experience — the queue for a 3 p.m. release of Tipping Point Brewing Co.‘s Passion of Zythos passion-fruit pale ale was at least 30 people deep.  And some tents, including Wicked Weed Brewing and Innovation Brewing Co., ran out of beer well before the festival closed at 6 p.m.

Bryan Thurman of  Innovation Brewing, who says the last keg of black IPA he had brought to event kicked around 3 p.m., expressed surprise at the large number of guests. “We didn’t expect such a huge crowd,” he says. “Next year we’ll definitely bring a ton of beer.”

Food and music complemented the brews as part of the fun. Lines at the Barley’s Taproom, Mojo Kitchen and Luella’s Bar-B-Que tents were about as long as the beer lines, with beer drinkers waiting to soak up some of the brew with Mojo’s tacos or a Luella’s Smoke Stack (a pint glass filled with smoked pork, slaw and other fixin’s). Throughout the afternoon, local bands, including Empire Strikes Brass, Lyric, Debrissaandthebearking, and Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats, entertained from the stage.

The event gave tourists an all-in-one overview of the Western North Carolina beer scene while allowing Ashevilleans a chance to taste new offerings from favorite breweries or check out places that are a bit off the beaten path or that they hadn’t yet tried.

A portion of the festival’s proceeds benefitted Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina, and organization that seeks to change the lives of children facing adversity between 6 and 18 years of age.

Photos by Scott Sands and Gina Smith.





About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at

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