AVL Beer Week 2017: Thirsty Monk’s Not So Big BIG Beer Fest returns

BIG BEER COUNTRY: The Not So Big BIG Beer Festival takes place May 31 at the Thirsty Monk warehouse on Thompson Street, near Biltmore Village. Photo courtesy of Thirsty Monk
BIG BEER COUNTRY: The Not So Big BIG Beer Festival takes place May 31 at the Thirsty Monk warehouse on Thompson Street, near Biltmore Village. Photo courtesy of Thirsty Monk

Are high-gravity beers your thing? If so, Thirsty Monk’s fourth annual Not So Big BIG Beer Festival is right up your alley.

The event, which takes place the evening of Wednesday, May 31, at the Thirsty Monk warehouse near Biltmore Village, is part of the 2017 AVL Beer Week activities. The festival stands out from others with its collection of potent, hard-to-find beers, all of which are American-made.

“The common denominator is that they are big beers — big sours, big IPAs or big stouts, or they were made by breweries that are doing big things,” says Joanna Postlethwaite, beer buyer for the Thirsty Monk pubs.

Postlethwaite started putting together a “wish list” of beers in March. “I’m thrilled with what we got. Locals, nationals and small artisan breweries are well-represented,” she says. “We [also] have some collaboration beers this year, which I think are unique.”

Postlethwaite notes that the festival will be a cozy event, with attendance limited to 200-250 guests. A $10 ticket includes admission, a festival tulip glass and a growler of a Thirsty Monk Belgian IPA to take home. Beer tokens are $3 each and can also be used to purchase food catered by the brewpub.

“People like how well-organized [the event] is,” Postlethwaite says. “It’s not a mad rush to get beers. People don’t worry that their favorite beers will run out immediately. It’s relaxed and low-key.”

Offerings include a keg of Highland Brewing Co.’s Imperial Cold Mountain Winter Ale, which was released in November. Another local rarity is Hi-Wire Brewing’s Blackberry Sour Ale.

From Weaverville, Zebulon Artisan Ales will have its Grodziskie Smoked Beer, and up from Greenville, S.C., the new Birds Fly South Ale Project will bring its Carolyn Coffee Hibiscus Saison and Skin & Bone American Wild Ale.

Also on the list are:

  • Founders Brewing Co. KBS Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout.
  • Cascade Brewing Noyaux American Wild Ale.
  • Kent Falls Brewing Glitter Rainbow IPA.
  • Allagash Brewing Co. Ganache Belgian-style Dark Ale.
  • Stone Brewing Co. and Maine Beer Co.’s collaboration Dayslayer India Pale Lager.
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Tree House Brewing Co.’s Beer Camp Across the World collaboration East Meets West IPA.
  • Haw River Farmhouse Ales Uvula Rasa Carolina Grisette.
  • Thirsty Monk Brewery Brother Noah Belgian-style Stout/Coconorm Porter blend.
  • Cigar City Brewing Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout.
  • Grimm Artisanal Ales Cloudbusting American Double IPA.

With the alcohol content on some of the brews reaching as high as 11 percent, attendees are encouraged to mix in water or soft drinks along the way. Lawn chairs are welcome, though there is some seating at the event. In case of rain, there’s also a covered area. Parking is somewhat limited, so consider carpooling, if possible. Neither coolers nor pets are permitted, and vehicles may not be left on the property overnight.

Thirsty Monk’s Not So Big BIG Beer Festival happens 5:30-9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, at 92 Thompson St. Tickets are $10 each and are available online.

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About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

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