Asheville Brewers Alliance Puts Twist on Standard Beer Festival

The Asheville Brewers Alliance wants to school craft beer lovers and give them a taste of what they as brewers get at functions like the national Craft Brewers Conference.

A series of panel discussions with Q&A and beer tastings for the public is what is on the docket for the western North Carolina guild. The two-session Asheville Beer Expo on February 27 will be a fundraiser for the organization.

“We figure we can find a fun way to kill numerous birds with one stone,” said ABA board member Anne-Fitten Glenn. “We can raise money for the organization, showcase our members and their beer products, whether that be breweries or associate members, and education for the consumer.”

Instead of a regular beer festival where the public walks around and samples brews aimlessly, the ABA will hold two three-hour sessions of talks, including topics such as raw ingredients, the history of Asheville brewing and how to start a brewery.

Glenn said that the second session has been very popular because of the last subject. She also noted that people have been buying tickets to both sessions just to soak in all the info.

The ABA intentionally left the ticket prices low at $25 per session with five free tokens to show this isn’t just about drinking.

“They can choose to try five of the 30 odd beers that will be there. If they want to buy more tokens they can,” Glenn said. “It’s more for an educated consumer that wanted to try a few beers and learn a little more about the industry.”

With numerous festivals all over the country nearly every weekend, something like this event stands out and could be the future. “I feel like the conditional beer festival that we have all spent years going to is changing and it needs to change,” Glenn said. “There has been some push back not wanting to spend a whole lot of money to just get soused. There is a place for that, but there is also a place for mixing it up a bit and being creative and making it more geared toward the educated customer.”

Should the event be a success — and with ticket sales nearly sold out, that doesn’t seem to be too far of a reach — Glenn agreed that the guild may be handing out tips to other guilds for similar events throughout the country.

“We hope it’s something we do on an annual basis and we would love to talk to other guilds and tell them what we did if this is successful,” she said.



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