Beer Festivals in Asheville, N.C.
By Jason Tarr
There’s plenty to celebrate in Beer City USA, and Asheville certainly rolls out the red carpet for its favorite brews. From the musically-inclined Brewgrass Festival, to the nine-day celebration of Asheville Beer Week, the parties are as unique as the breweries themselves.
Festivals are a great way to introduce yourself to a variety of beers and to pick out that one ale, lager, stout or porter that will keep you coming back for another pour. And Asheville isn’t afraid to share the love — festivals welcome regional brewers from across North Carolina and the Southeast.
- Burning Can Festival, August 9-10, 2019, Oskar Blues REEB Ranch
In nearby Brevard, Oskar Blues brewery hosts a two-day outdoor beer and music festival. The event also raises money for the brewery's nonprofit foundation, Can'd Aid. More than 50 breweries participate. Outdoor events like BMX bike riding, river paddling, and a beer relay trail run have been part of the lineup in past years.
- Thirsty Fest, September, Dates TBA, Thirsty Monk
Each year, Thirsty Monk dedicates an entire week to "the scarce, the exceptional, and the downright unusual," filling their taps with unique beers hardly ever poured in Western North Carolina. The festival is held at both Thirsty Monk locations in Asheville.
- Tour de Fat Fall, September, Dates TBA, New Belgium Brewing
The fall version of New Belgium's traveling beer, music and bicycles festival which offers a one-of-a-kind way to raise money for local non-profits. Dress up in costume and be prepared to be entertained by the touring ensemble of comedians and musical talent.
- Asheville Oktoberfest, October 5, 2019, Pack Square Park
Brush up on your keg-rolling skills for this fest, which transforms downtown streets into a traditional German party featuring tastings from local breweries. Live “oompah” music and local foods complete this fall tradition.
- CiderFest NC, October 12, 2019, Salvage Station
CiderFest has to be one of the sweetest fall festivals. Since it began in 2013, CiderFest has become North Carolina's premier hard cider tasting event. Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 day-of at Salvage Station.
- Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, October 12, 2019, Mills River
Wear your lederhosen and hoist a stein in celebration! Sierra Nevada's Oktoberfest features great food, costumes, dancing, music and more! This annual celebration draws thousands of beer lovers!
- Brewgrass, October, Dates TBA, Salvage Station
Showcasing more than 120 different beers from 40+ regional breweries as well as national and regional bluegrass musicians, it’s no wonder that this festival has become a local favorite. In 2017, Brewgrass was nominated by USA Today 10Best as one of the nation's best beer festivals. Purchase your tickets in advance before they are gone!
- Burnpile Harvest Fest, Dates TBA, Burial Beer Co. taproom
Burnpile celebrates the harvest season with seasonally-inspired beers from more than 20 breweries. Many beers are brewed just for the event. The festival also features a strong lineup of live music performances.
- New Year's Eve Keg Drop, December 31, 2019, Thirsty Monk South (Biltmore Park)
In New York City they drop a ball, in Asheville (Beer City USA), we drop a keg! Join in this fun tradition to see a two-story golden, lighted keg descend at midnight to ring in the New Year. The keg drop party is free to attend.
- Brew Horizons Beer Fest, February 2020 (date to be announced), U.S. Cellular Center, Downtown Asheville
This inaugural Brew Horizons Beer Fest will give you the chance to enjoy craft beverages form a variety of Western North Carolina's best breweries and cideries. You'll also be able to taste artisanal food and experience arts and crafts vendors, sustainability education areas and live music from Gypsy Grass and Queen Bee and the Honeylovers. The festival is being organized by the nonprofit Green Built Alliance, which also hosts the annual CiderFest NC each fall, and will serve as a fundraiser for the Blue Horizons Project community campaign.
- NC Small Batch Festival, March 2020 (date to be announced), Hi-Wire Brewing
Specialty beers get their chance to shine at this festival at Hi-Wire Brewing. Local breweries have the chance to show off their creative spirit and see if certain beers have what it takes to make their full-time lineup. No styles are off-limits as long it is a one-off product. Good food and good music also are highlights of the event.
- North Carolina Beer Month, April 2020, Multiple Locations
With nearly 40 area craft breweries, Asheville is the perfect place to enjoy North Carolina Beer Month. Choose from a number of local celebrations throughout April.
Asheville Beer Week, May/June 2020 (dates to be announced), Multiple Locations
Be a part of this festival which dedicates nine full days to celebrating all things beer in Asheville. Taste great local craft brews, pair beers with a smorgasbord of delicious food, and learn about brewing at events around town. More than 40 breweries participate.
In the middle of Asheville Beer Week (May 29, 2018), enjoy the "Not So Big BIG Beer Festival." At Thirsty Monk's Thompson Street warehouse in Biltmore Village, this small-scale beer festival will have several rare and one-off beers in one location.
- Beer City Festival, June 2020 (date to be announced), Pack Square Park
Asheville Beer Week features the popular Beer City Festival in Pack Square Park, which celebrates the local brewing industry with taps from dozens of breweries and plenty of live music.
- Beer Camp, June 2020 (date to be announced), Sierra Nevada
It's an epic adult day camp! Get ready for fun and games including human foosball, hungry human hippos, silent disco, an obstacle course, keg bowling, costume contest and more. This is a single day event (no overnight). The festival offers a free shuttle to make sure you get home safely.
Top photo by Emily Chaplin. Keg drop photo provided by Thirsty Monk.