Carolina Beer Guy: Brew fest returns with new look

BACK IN ACTION: Beer fans are invited to attend Hi-Wire Brewing's N.C. Small Batch Beer Festival on Saturday, April 3. Photo courtesy of Hi-Wire

A little more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down public events, Hi-Wire Brewing is welcoming back beer enthusiasts with the N.C. Small Batch Beer Festival on Saturday, April 3, at its South Asheville location, 2 Huntsman Place. But it will have a different look and format than the big rollicking brew festivals of the past.

No longer will drinkers be jammed up in lines with friends and strangers for another pour, notes Shanda Crowe, the brewery’s spokesperson. Instead, staff members will serve small group tables, accommodating up to eight people. Masks are required except when festivalgoers are eating or drinking at their assigned seats.

Participants will receive a preselected flight of four beers with the ability to purchase additional drinks. Breweries are bringing one-off selections not usually available, including Bhramari Brewing Co.’s Barrel Aged Farmhouse IPA, Cellarest Beer Project’s Farmhouse Pale Ale, Hillman Beer’s Belgian Tripel and Zillicoah Beer Co.’s collaboration with Cellarest, Oak Aged Red Rye Lager.

Meanwhile, Hi-Wire will serve its Sour Vintage Ale with Peaches and Black Tea, Kick Back IPA and Mango Peach Milkshake.

Additional out-of-market breweries participating in the festival include Divine Barrel Brewing of Charlotte, Flying Machine Brewing Co. of Wilmington and Wise Man Brewing of Winston-Salem.

“A lot of thought went into this, making sure everyone is safe while keeping that festival vibe,” Crowe says.

Tickets range from $50-$400 depending on table size. Sessions are noon-3 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. The event is for 21 and older. No pets allowed. To learn more, visit

Back in Business

New Belgian Brewing Co. of Asheville will reopen its outdoor seating area on Thursday, April 22, says spokesman Michael Craft. The outdoor area had been closed over the winter due to cold weather.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Mills River, closed for indoor service during the pandemic, will also reopen the taproom and gift shop at 50% capacity on Wednesday, May 12,

PB&J Time

Catawba Brewing Co. will release its 10th annual Peanut Butter Jelly Time beer on Friday, April 2.

The brew has become Catawba’s most popular specialty release. It’s a 5.7% ABV light brown ale made with North Carolina peanuts and raspberry puree. At the April 2 release, Catawba will have specialty versions of the beer made with strawberry-rhubarb, grape and a new orange marmalade offering.

Look for it at Catawba’s many locations, including Asheville’s South Slope and Biltmore Village taprooms, plus the main Morganton brewery, Charlotte and the new Wilmington location. It will also be at the Catawba-owned Palmetto Brewing Co. in Charleston, S.C., and in stores around the brewery’s five-state distribution area.

Downtown expansion

Highland Brewing Co., Asheville’s oldest craft brewing, is eyeing a June opening for its new downtown taproom at the historic S&W Market, 56 Patton Ave. The landmark building, a one-time cafeteria, is being transformed into a food hall.

“There’s tons of work going on every day” at the building, says Highland President Leah Ashburn.

Highland will operate two bars at the S&W, with six taps on the main floor and 18 on the mezzanine. “We are figuring out [what beer to serve], but we think it would be fun to have some that would be specific to the S&W,” said Ashburn.

Highland will continue to brew its beers at its main operation, 12 Old Charlotte4 Highway in East Asheville.


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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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One thought on “Carolina Beer Guy: Brew fest returns with new look

  1. raleigh-ite

    Thanks for the updates! You’ve been my source for getting info on the latest specialty or seasonal beer releases. It certainly beats having to search each brewery’s website for beer news or expansion plans.

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