Recap of the 2011 High Country Beer Fest

HC beer fest crowdWhile beer festivals are not necessarily home brewing-related, I wanted to share with everyone what a great success the 4th annual High Country Beer Festival was this past weekend in Boone.  Not only did the event sell out, but there were 53 breweries and over 200 different beers being served.  Way more than any mortal could possibly try during the 4-hour festival (and survive to tell the tale).

However, one of the great things that really made the festival stand out were the number of educational seminars throughout the event.  Sure, walking around trying everything from an Amarillo dry-hopped cask of pale ale from Foothills to taking a sip of the Midas Touch from Dogfish Head (the oldest-known fermented beverage in the world) was a blast, but there was a number of very interesting educational sessions to break up all of the beer tasting (…well, most of the sessions involved beer tasting as well).

duck-rabbit dogfish head

I did not attend the homebrewing seminar, though I did talk with the duo that was leading the session.  They are a part of a new program at Appalachian State University that is dedicated to fermentation sciences.  The ASU program already has its own brewery and they were serving at the event as well.  I look forward to speaking with them more in the future and getting them to chime in on the current state of brewing education in America, particularly in traditional higher education/universities.

One session that I did attend that stood out was a brewer’s round table.  This discussion featured brewers from Natty Greenes, Duck Rabbit, Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery, Olde Hickory and Foothills.  Each brewery brought in a beer that was unique to it’s style and they spoke  about the particular brewing process of that beer and what made it different.  From the Duck Rabbit Milk Stout brewed with lactose (we have a homebrew recipe for anyone interested) to the Old Rabbits Foot (a combination brew from Old Hickory, Duck Rabbit and Foothills), to an excellent sour from Natty Greenes, there were a lot of great beers to be tried.

brewer forum

Not only did participants get to taste and discuss the beers, but I was able to discuss how home brewers can reproduce some of these more unique styles on a smaller scale.  I look forward to featuring some of these brewers on the blog talking about the beers we tried and how homebrewers can mimic almost anything a full-scale production brewery can do, even making sours.

If you are a home brewer and have not yet attended a beer festival, I highly encourage it.  Not only will you get the chance to try some unique beers (and lots of them), you will meet some great people and get a better insight into the brewing industry and process.  The High Country Beer Fest was no exception, but if you missed out, don’t worry, there are plenty more NC beer festivals coming up SOON.  Check out the Craft Beer Collective for an extensive list of NC festivals to see when you can attend one near you – and let me know how it goes!