Hi-Wire Brewing will kick off the summer beer festival season with Asheville’s first event focusing exclusively on lagers — How Do You LagerFest? The festival, which happens noon-8 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the brewery’s Big Top location in South Asheville, will feature lagers brewed by nearly 20 local, regional and national breweries showcasing the breadth of stylistic variation within the lager category. Hi-Wire will also be pouring 10 of its own lagers, including the introduction of the brewery’s new Spring Maibock.
The $8 admission fee secures guests a commemorative tasting glass and two beer tokens, with additional tokens available for purchase. Five pouring stations will keep the lagers flowing with minimal wait time, four of which will be located inside the taproom and one in the parking lot outside.
Foothills Deli, which recently relocated to the Big Top from its former South Slope storefront, will be grilling burgers and brats to complement the festival’s 1960s backyard barbecue theme. Attendees are encouraged to carpool as a portion of the site’s parking area will be occupied by an Airstream camper, miniature golf course, kiddie pools, pink flamingos and artificial grass to establish the motif. Overflow parking will be available at three offsite lots, all within easy walking distance of the brewery.
While lagers are hugely popular among global beer drinkers, pejorative associations with American macrobrewed adjunct lagers may have played a role in hindering the domestic craft beer community’s acceptance of the category. How Do You LagerFest? was conceived as a means of educating consumers about lagers, which are generally underrepresented in the craft brewing industry in comparison to styles currently attracting more attention.
“We started seeing all of these great niche festivals popping up celebrating specialty styles such as saisons and sours, and thought, ‘The most commonly consumed beer style in the in the world is the lager. Why aren’t we celebrating local and regional American Craft Breweries which are making some damn fine examples of the style?’ From there, How Do You Lagerfest? was born,” explains Hi-Wire co-owner Chris Frosaker.
Craft brewers have also been hesitant to embrace lagers because they tend to demand a greater commitment of resources than ales, as the distinctive yeast strain that differentiates lagers from ales requires refrigeration during the fermentation process and typically takes at least twice as long to mature. “We made the decision to lead with lagers before we opened in 2013,” says Frosaker. “Everyone that works at Hi-Wire loves to drink lagers and we selfishly wanted some local options to drink. Lagers take a lot of time to make correctly — all of ours take seven to nine weeks to make — so this poses a huge tank space challenge. Purchasing extra tanks to lager beer costs money and takes up space, but we are committed to the style and feel the investment is worth it.”
How Do You LagerFest? is slated to become an annual event for the brewery, which is looking to capitalize on the extra space available at its Big Top production facility with a growing roster of future events. “The Big Top Brewery is all about the amount of space we have, both for production and hosting guests,” says Hi-Wire event coordinator Courtney King. “We have one of the larger spaces of any brewery located in the core of the city to have parties. Plus, we have ample parking in the vicinity of the building. We can comfortably fit a lot of people, and we love that we can invite so many local beer drinkers to come celebrate with us in our space.”
Subsequent events at the Big Top will include a monthly outdoor movie program highlighting the films of Bill Murray throughout the summer, a crawfish boil to celebrate Hi-Wire’s first can release on June 4 and the brewery’s third-anniversary party on June 16.
The Asheville beer drinking public has been quick to embrace Hi-Wire’s dedication to lagers, and How Do You LagerFest? is anticipated to further ingratiate the style to local palates. “People love our lagers. Patrons of our two tap-rooms frequently comment that they are a breath of fresh air, as most local breweries don’t have any lagers on tap, let alone five or six at a time like us,” says Frosaker. “People love the uniqueness of what we are doing in the local beer scene. We hope How Do You LagerFest will become a great way to kick off the summer each year and spread awareness of how special lagers are.”
King adds, “We are aiming to throw the most laid-back party of the year as lagers are best enjoyed relaxing with friends.”
Hi-Wire‘s How Do You LagerFest will happen noon-8 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Hi-Wire Brewing’s Big Top, 2A Huntsman Place.
How Do You LagerFest? participating breweries:
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – Charlotte, NC
Duck Rabbit Brewery – Farmville, NC
Brevard Brewing – Brevard, NC
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Mills River, NC
Foothills Brewing Co. – Winston-Salem, NC
Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn, NY
Highland Brewing Co. – Asheville, NC
Smuttynose Brewing Co. – Hampton, NH
Fullsteam Brewery – Durham, NC
Mother Earth Brewing – Kinston, NC
Burial Beer Co. – Asheville
Birdsong Brewing Co. – Charlotte, NC
Twin Leaf Brewery – Asheville
River Rat Brewery – Columbia, SC
Brahmari Brewhouse – Asheville
Olde Hickory Brewery – Hickory, NC
Hi-Wire Brewing’s How Do You LagerFest? draft list:
Bohemian Dark Lager
Twice as Nice Doppelbock
Enchanter Baltic Porter
Pre-Prohibition Corn Lager
Dortmunder Export Lager
Aerialist Hoppy Lager