It seems somewhat counter intuitive: warming yourself with cold beer.
Yet the craft brew scene in Asheville, North Carolina is heating up this winter, with new breweries on the scene and more choices then ever before in local brews. This year the Winter Warmer Beer Festival celebrates craft beer once again. The growing festival is now an annual tradition that takes place on Saturday, January 26, 2013 from 3-7 p.m. at the Civic Center in Downtown Asheville.
For visitors who want to attend the festival and saunter around Downtown and sample some craft beer from the taps at brew pubs, before or after the festival, there are plentiful options. Pubs near the Civic Center with abundant taps include the Bier Garden, the Mellow Mushroom and Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB). Warm up inside this winter while drinking a nice long draught of craft brew by the fire, or in one of the quaint, historic pubs in Asheville.
The participating craft breweries list for Winter Warmer keeps getting longer each year. This year, 13 new breweries will be participating, with four of the newest breweries originating from the Asheville area: Altamont Brewing, Wicked Weed, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium. The last two are the largest, high profile craft breweries on the list and both companies have chosen the Asheville area as a place for their East Coast operations. Altamont and Wicked Weed are newcomers to the craft brew scene in Asheville. In addition to locals, craft breweries from South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Michigan will participate.
Tickets for the Winter Warmer Beer Festival
There are three different ticket categories. Choose from the General Admission category for $41.95, the Very Important Drinker pass for $61.95 or the Designated Drivers Pass for only $22.95, which is discounted because alcohol consumption is omitted. Buy tickets in advance online at www.AshevilleBeerFest.com.
Winter Warmer Beer Festival Events
The Festival begins with a January 25th (Friday night) kick-off event at the “No Whey!” V.I.P. Beer and Cheese Dinner hosted by the Four Points Sheraton in Downtown Asheville. There are two seating times for this event: one at 4 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20. Since last year’s event sold out, it is highly recommended that participants purchase tickets in advance.
The next day at the Civic Center, the Winter Warmer Beer Festival officially begins at 3 p.m. The special guest brewery this year includes a representative brewery from the town that tied with Asheville, NC as “Beer City USA 2012” – Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founders Brewing Company is bringing their handcrafted beer direct from Grand Rapids. Founders will face off with some of Asheville’s best-loved local brews produced by Highland Brewing Company, French Broad Brewing Company and Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company, among others.
This year the Western North Carolina Alliance is the non-profit partner for the Winter Warmer Beer Festival. WNC Alliance is a 30-year old grassroots organization that protects the forests, keeps air and water clean and helps keep the community healthy. Local business sponsors include Three Sheets: Design, Brews Cruise, Inc. and The French Broad Brewing Company. Strada Italiano will cater events.
The Winter Warmer Beer Festival began when Mark and Trish Lyons decided to ‘shake up the winter blahs.’ At one time, the Lyons owned Asheville Brews Cruise, a bus that takes visitors around to Asheville breweries for safe transport while sampling beer. Each year, the number of participating breweries and attendees increases, and the festival needs a larger space to accommodate everyone. In the past, entertainment has included Woody Wood, Brushfire Stankgrass and The Leigh Glass Band. This year, the entertainment is sure to be just as exciting.
Remember, tickets usually sell out several weeks in advance. Purchase them now since they most likely will not be available at the door. In the meantime, whether you are a local or just passing through Asheville, stop into a bar or brew pub and enjoy a pint of a craft brew made right here in Beer City USA.