Even with this advance notice, it’s going to be tough for you to get tickets to Brawley’s Black and Blue 8.
Two years ago, tickets to the annual local beer festival sold out in less than a hour and a half. Last year, they were gone in less than three minutes.
“They’re going to fly this year,” said event host Michael Brawley, founder of Brawley’s Beverage, one of the city’s first dedicated beer shops. “If this trajectory continues, it’s going to be like a five-second sellout.”
The festival puts a major emphasis on North Carolina-based breweries and their wares. This year, it’ll be held on Saturday, March 18, at The Visulite Theater. Tickets for the event are $60 each with a limit of two per person, and they go on sale at 10 a.m. this Saturday, on The Visulite website.
— Black and Blue (@BlackandBlueCLT) December 20, 2016
Wait a minute, you say. Isn’t that Christmas Eve? Shouldn’t we be traveling, wrapping gifts, or finding ways to avoid family?
It’s a busy day for many, but no accident that Brawley chooses Dec. 24 each year to put tickets on sale.
“The reason we do it is because that way the people that really care can be there,” said Brawley. “If it was a Monday afternoon at 5, it would be easy for pretty much everybody.”
With only 275 tickets available, there’s a chance that even the regulars, the loyal patrons who’ve shopped his store and attended the event for years, could miss out. But hopefully everybody that pushes the button at 10 a.m. gets a ticket, Brawley says.
Brawley says that more than 80 percent of the people at Black and Blue every year are customers of the shop.
While the brewery and beer lineup changes each year, attendees can expect to find lots of rare, barrel-aged and very big beers (see last year’s lineup here), with high-tempo live music (often, but not always, bluegrass). Some of the beers are brewed just for the festival. Brawley describes it as a “house party for Charlotte beer geeks.”
“Everybody’s a beer geek, pretty much,” he said. “It’s a special thing. Everybody there, it’s about the beer. It’s not about the bang for the buck, it’s not about the diet beers, the light stuff. It’s not about the styles. It’s just a party for Charlotte beer, and North Carolina beer. People bring out the heavy hitters, which is awesome, and you get to meet the brewers. Everything that it’s always been is what it’s about.”
Brawley says he has considered making changes to the festival, but in the end doesn’t want to mess with a good thing.
“We thought about going to two sessions, or going to two nights, or moving to a larger venue,” he said. “And all those things just don’t seem right for Black and Blue. Some things don’t have to grow. They don’t have to be huge. They just have to be what they are.”
Brawley will do at least one thing differently this year. A handful of tickets will be released the week before the event at what he describes as a “ridiculously inflated price” — and all profits over the ticket’s face value will be donated.
“We figured that’s a way we can raise money for charity,” said Brawley, “and the people that really, really want to be there can be there.”
Photo: Eric Gaddy of Casting Shadows Photography