Carolina Beer Guy: Tap into these April beer celebrations

DJ SIMCOE: A wave of beer festivals hits the Asheville area over the next few weeks, including Phazed, a new celebration combining IPAs and DJs at One World Brewing on April 14. Pictured is One World brewer Brandon Audette. Photo by Jake Banta/Lux Focus Photography

The return of warmer weather to Western North Carolina brings three craft beer celebrations to the area. One will showcase IPAs, another saisons and a third covers a wide variety of styles.

The new Phazed Beer and Music Festival debuts Saturday, April 14, noon-8 p.m. at One World Brewing Co. This one is all about the IPA, with hazy, fruity, sour and other varieties represented. One World will tap its own house IPAs, and seven other breweries will be pouring, according to One World brewer Brandon Audette.

Those guest brewers are Asheville’s Bhramari Brewing Co., Burial Beer Co., Hillman Beer and Hi-Wire Brewing Co.; Fonta Flora Brewery of Morganton; Sanctuary Brewing Co. of Hendersonville; and Wooden Robot Brewery of Charlotte. A couple of non-IPA beers will also be available, as will Urban Orchard cider. Admission is free, and beer will be sold in 4- and 10-ounce pours.

To keep the atmosphere festive, DJs will spin electronic music. “This is personal for me,” Audette says. “I’ve been a DJ for about 10 years. I’m trying to combine DJs and beer.”

With a capacity of about 72 people, the downtown One World is not a big space, but if Phazed is a success, it will move next year to One World’s larger second location at 520 Haywood Road in West Asheville. Audette says all permits and equipment have been acquired for the new brewery, and a spring opening seems likely.

Sharpen the Blades Saison Fest is set for Saturday, April 28, noon-8 p.m. at Burial. Now in its fifth year, more than 30 breweries from around the country will be pouring saison farmhouse-style ales. Participants include 3 Floyds Brewing Co., Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co., Jackie O’s Brewery, Jester King Brewery, Fonta Flora and many more.

The festival’s format is the same as in past years, says Burial co-owner Jessica Reiser. The $15 general admission ticket includes a commemorative glass and two tokens for 6-ounce pours. Additional tokens may be purchased for $4 each. VIP admission is also available. A $25 ticket includes early entry, two drink tokens and a bottle of Burial’s Garden of Earthly Delights Mixed Culture Saison, aged on oak and refermented on blood orange, Carolina beets and Rayburn Farm rosemary and turmeric. A $35 ticket includes all of the above and an additional bottle of Garden of Earthly Delights.

“The event takes place at our taproom, so it remains a manageable size,” Reiser says. “Our goal was always to host a niche festival.”

Picking the participating breweries, however, is always a challenge. “Since this is a saison fest, we do focus on breweries that have invested resources into that style,” Reiser says. “They will all bring saisons. It has always been exciting to see how different breweries interpret the style.”

In between the two Asheville festivals is the 16th annual Hickory Hops Brewers Festival, which takes place Saturday, April 21, 1-6 p.m. in downtown Hickory. More than 50 craft breweries will be there, including Asheville Brewing Co.; Oskar Blues Brewery of Brevard; BearWaters Brewing Co. of Canton; Mountain Layers Brewing Co. and Nantahala Brewing Co., both of Bryson City; Boojum Brewing Co. of Waynesville; Pisgah Brewing Co. of Black Mountain; and Southern Appalachian Brewery of Hendersonville. Look for many others from around North Carolina and nearby states.

Hickory Hops organizer Bobby Bush is expecting an attendance of over 2,500 people. This is a 21-and-older event, even for designated drivers, and pets are not permitted. Tickets are $30 general admission and $10 for designated drivers. Tickets should also be available at the gate.

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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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