The event gathered over 160 breweries from Raleigh’s own Big Boss Brewing Company to parts all across the world. Local venders served up the tasty food, and music was provided by The Black Swamp Bootleggers, Guta, Zydecopious and Yesterday’s Gravy. Compared to last year’s inaugural Raleigh Fest, this one had a lot more breathing room, with two streets taken over instead of just one to house the beer tents. Last year was like drinking in a sardine can, and awfully chaotic, especially at the rowdier second session. The added space this year was welcomed by all. And perhaps best of all for the All About Beer folk heading up these events in both Raleigh and Durham, there was no rain in sight. The plague has lifted. It was a beautiful day.
If you can’t have a good time or find a beer you enjoy in this setting, then you simply must have a bad attitude. The beers were incredible. As I was working the festival, I didn’t spend a lot of time sampling, but I did have my first opportunity to try beers from New Glarus, and the storied Wisconsin Belgian Red met my expectations and shot straight to my favorites list. The Spotted Cow and Hop Hearty IPA were also excellent.
Aside from the beers, one of the elements I most enjoy about working festivals is the fellowship of the brewers. The regular guy on the street can’t know the sense of brotherhood that is shared by these people. While I’m sure certain rivalries exist, there is a wonderful sense of community among craft brewers. They’re truly happy to see each other, share in the misery that this fun, but long day can be, and approach each other’s new beers with excitement. They cheerfully lend CO2 tanks, duct tape and aspirin. The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery has become well known among North Carolina breweries for sharing complimentary Bloody Marys following setup as a gesture of good will. It just gets the long day started with smiles on faces.
If you haven’t taken the opportunity to volunteer at a festival, do so. It’s a great deal of fun (and hard work), and well worth it. You’ll be an active participant in making the world a better place, spreading a better view of this lovely little drink.
Check out www.allaboutbeer.com for information and photos