Hazy beers have a strong following around Asheville. Local breweries turn out plenty of them, and customers flock to taprooms as new creations arrive.
Bhramari Brewing Co. celebrates the popular style with the Above the Clouds festival, which returns to the downtown brewery for a second year on Saturday, Aug. 31, 1-8 p.m. The Labor Day weekend event features hazy and hoppy selections from 30 breweries, plus four new canned collaborations for purchase.
While some of the breweries at Above the Clouds are local, others are coming from as far away as Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio. The $15 ticket includes festival admission, a sampling glass and three drink tokens. There will also be food, music and a hops-rubbing station where Bhramari co-owner and brewer Gary Sernack says attendees can get “a good whiff” of the flower’s aromas.
The hazy, hoppy beer style strikes the right notes with Sernack, who invited brewers with a similar love and passion for them to pour at Above the Clouds. “We were looking for like-minded breweries that were focusing on this style and are exceptional at this style,” he says. “Most of these breweries, we had a relationship with. We love making [hazy beers]. We love drinking them. There is a lot of diversity within that one style.”
While many of the beers can generally be described as IPAs, breweries are welcome to bring any brew that’s hazy or hoppy. “Last year, it wasn’t just all IPA,” Sernack says. “We had a couple of different beers.”
He believes the hazy, hoppy brews have become so popular “because of how approachable they are. A lot of people didn’t identify with the bitter IPA.” He adds that hazy beers have “different aromas that are reminiscent of fruit and other approachable flavors,” and that ABVs of the beers poured at the festival are “all over the place,” from lower-octane session brews to potent, higher-gravity selections.
Above the Clouds attendees will also be able to purchase a few brand new collaboration beers. Bhramari teamed with Asheville’s forthcoming DSSOLVR to create a triple dry-hopped IPA and a triple dry-hopped double session IPA.
Bhramari also worked with Listermann Brewing Co. of Cincinnati on a pale ale made with 100 pounds of Skittles candy, while New Anthem Beer Project of Wilmington pitched in on a sour melon milkshake IPA, brewed with 800 pounds of assorted melons. They’ll be available in four-packs for $17.99 each or in a mixed pack featuring one of each collaboration for $19.99.
Festival tickets can be purchased in advance at the brewery or online at bhramaribrewing.com or at the event.