Thirsty Monk’s warehouse space at 92 Thompson St. in Biltmore Village made its debut to the public on Wednesday, May 27, as it played host to the bar and brewpub’s Not So Big BIG Beer Festival.
The future home of a 15-barrel brewing system, the open-air site was the intended space for the 2014 Not So Big BIG Beer Festival, which was moved to the enclosed Mill Room due to the warehouse not quite being ready to hold an event.
A highlight of last year’s Asheville Beer Week, that iteration featured representatives from more than 20 breweries from around the country lining the room, pouring two brews apiece, resulting in lines that were never longer than three people deep. Even more appealing was that the $35 admission granted unlimited tastes, affording attendees to sample favorites and take risks on styles they may not otherwise try.
For the 2015 event, the same $35 admission came with a commemorative 4-ounce tasting glass, seven drink tickets and the promise of a 32-ounce growler with the option to fill it with whatever beer remained at the end of the evening. The bulk of the offerings were poured from one serving space, initially with two bartenders (a number that quickly expanded when the line grew), with a satellite station to the left of the bar pouring four more beers. Local food trucks were also on-site, and attendees had the option of taking a free round-trip bus ride to the event from any of the three Thirsty Monk locations.
North Carolina’s lone keg of Westbrook Mexican Chocolate Cake imperial stout was a truly special taste, but was nonetheless bested by the power of the Prairie Bomb Imperial Stout. Also of note was a tawny port barrel-aged version of Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout and the Allagash Currant Affair sour dark ale.
In the event of one using up the allotted seven drink tickets, additional tickets could be purchased for $2.50 each. As for the growler fills, attendees were told to check back in the festival’s final hour (9-10 p.m.) but that it would cost five tickets for a fill. Those who remained until that last 60 minutes, however, were rewarded with a fire sale of epic proportions: 32 ounces of anything on tap for a mere one ticket. Considering that a 12-ounce bottle of Prairie Bomb regularly goes for $10, walking away with nearly three times that amount for a song was something that attendees won’t soon forget.