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Chris Guest's picture

2016 Beer City Festival

On a glittering, cloudless day in late May, Asheville, North Carolina’s Beer City Festival took place for the seventh time.

With some of the best breweries in NC pouring some of their finest creations, the Beer City Festival promised to be a terrific occasion full of joyous revelry and lovely libations. Spoiler alert: it delivered on both fronts.

The festival was already heaving (though not from overindulgence) by the time we arrived, and we proceeded to join one of the lengthy lines that crisscrossed the entire venue. But with so many distinguished breweries lined up, it’s no surprise that people would bake in the hot sun for a chance to sip some tasty brews.

Burial's Scythe Rye IPA was an early favorite.

Our first stop was Innovation Brewing’s tent, recently covered in Finding Brew Gold in Sylva, where founders Nicole Dexter and Chip Owen were pouring some of their delicately-flavored and beautifully-executed beers. My choice was the Orange Berliner Weisse, which tasted like a zestier, prickly glass of orange juice while my fellow editor chose the Ginger Pale Ale, which impressed with its light body and subtle zing of ginger flavor.

Burial Beer Co., which released a barrel-aged version of its Skillet Donut Stout the following day after the festival, had one of the longest lines at Beer City and was pouring Skillet, Scythe Rye IPA and a kolsch. I opted for the IPA (as I often do) and was greeted with a hopped-up but spicy rye aroma, which the flavor matched along with some additional tropical fruit notes.

After this point, the beers kept on flowing, the music got a little bit louder and the lines got a little bit shorter. A few of the beer highlights from the remainder of the festival:

Pisgah Blueberry Wheat – This summer seasonal from Pisgah Brewing Company was a breath of fresh air in the sweltering spring heat. A cereal-like maltiness coupled with a beautiful, round blueberry character made this one of the most refreshing beers at the event.

Boojum Brewing Company impressed with its stylish aesthetic and refreshing brews.

Boojum Mûr – Another fruited varietal from an up-and-coming NC brewery, Boojum was on hand to pour its American Pale, Double IPA and this delightful Raspberry Saison. Pouring a light-orange with pinkish hues, raspberries definitely wafted their delicate bouquet out of my tiny tasting glass. Fruit beers tend to be eminently quaffable on hot days, and that quaffability is amplified when they’re this well-made.