Charlotte has too many beer festivals

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CharlotteFive archives
N.C. Brewers and Music festival.

I noticed something interesting while looking at the weekend’s event calendar. See if you can spot the theme:

The N.C. Brewers and Music festival in Rural Hill, May 12-13: More than 40 breweries to sample from, live music and food trucks.

Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival at Symphony Park, May 13: More than 20 breweries to sample from (plus 16 distilleries), live music and barbecue.

South End Hops Festival on Carson Boulevard, May 13: More than 30 breweries to sample from, live music and food trucks.

Yep, three beer festivals on the same day in the Charlotte area. Is it just me or is that a little much?

And that list doesn’t include Moo & Brew Festival, the massive beer and burger festival that happened less than a month ago, BeerMe Brew Fest and Tuck Fest (that counts, right?) in April, Brawley’s Black and Blue in March, and Queen City Brewers Festival back in February.

It also doesn’t include Charlotte Oktoberfest (assuming it returns this year) or any of the smaller beer festivals hosted at various breweries, like Mecktoberfest at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and the Friends and Beerfests over at Legion Brewing.

And I’m sure there’s even more I’m missing.

Look, if you know one thing about me it’s that I love — love — craft beer, especially Charlotte craft beer. If you know another thing about me, it’s that I love food, including the kind that comes from trucks. And if you know a third thing about me, it’s that I love listening to live music outside.

So I do love a good beer festival, and that combination — beer, food, live music — is gold. It works. And most of these festivals support a cause or charity, which I can always get behind.

But there can be too much of a good thing.

The more beer festivals we have in a year, the less special each one becomes. Why go to x beer festival when y festival is coming up in a couple of months weeks days? And it’s gotta be a strain on some brewers to make beer for — and staff — all of these events throughout the year. And, let’s be real, it’s just tiring. I heard people in the office this week — real beer-loving people — talk about how they were getting worn out by having to go to these beer festivals they bought tickets for. That’s a problem.

I’m not arguing that we should get rid of the festivals altogether. That would make me quite sad (but probably skinnier). But what if Charlotte just had a few big ones spaced out each year — QCBF, N.C. Music and Brewers Festival, Oktoberfest? — along with a few of the smaller, specialty ones — Black & Blue and Salud’s Release the Funk Sour Beer Fest, for example.

Or let’s at least get more creative with the festivals. I can sit outside and drink beer and eat from a food truck and listen to music at just about any brewery any weekend — without paying admission.

But we’ve gotta do something. Three beer festivals on one day can’t be good for anyone — the beer drinkers who have to make a choice, the organizers who have to compete against each other and the breweries who have to choose sides or try to be everywhere at once.

I’d love to be at all of those beer festivals this weekend. They all sound great. But I’m bad at making choices, so I’ll probably just stay home. And drink a local craft beer. Outside. With some music playing.

Photo: Marty Price

12 COMMENTS

  1. Corey, it’s funny that the five beer fests you mention near the end are also most of the truest, organically developed local festivals. A large portion of the other ones are for-profit events run by out-of-state companies just seeking to cash in on the beer culture here. Maybe you can do an article listing all the area festivals throughout the year, who hosts and sponsors them, and where the proceeds go (charity or profit).

    • It’s also important to add which festivals buy the beer from breweries and which ones expect donations. The majority expect donations. With the sheer number of festivals breweries are invited to not just in Charlotte but throughout North Carolina, that’s asking a lot from breweries to give away that much product.

  2. If people don’t like them, people won’t go. It seems like supply will naturally reduce if the market demands that. No need to whine about it (as your article comes off).

  3. Actually, there needs to be one more beer festival. And that is, one where people under 21 are not allowed. I don’t attend beer festivals much any more because I got tired of mega strollers getting in the way and running over my feet and kids running around. How about getting a babysitter and enjoying some adult time. What is the purpose of kids attending beer festivals in the first place? There is nothing for them there. Let’s have adults-only days at all of the breweries as well.

  4. I’m disappointed in this story. In the spirit of what Charlotte values, perhaps Corey should have described those festivals that support our local charities and those that just come to cash in on Charlotte’s growing industry, make their money and run. The biggest are not the best, actually rarely are the best. They are just big. And crowded.
    Pretty shallow reporting. The point? Yes, Charlotte has a beer scene worth celebrating. And, yes it’s become more of a business than a celebration of what we love most about Charlotte. Great community gatherings, great entertainment and contributing to charities of our choice.

  5. Sounds like somebody didnt have a REAL story to write about. People like choices and go where they want, there is no need to WINE about it Corey, i hope you do stay home and keep you negative personality .at home!!!

  6. Just don’t go. It’s not that hard. I don’t understand why people feel compelled to do things they don’t want to do. There are other options. But hey, maybe other people can’t get enough of beer festivals. Let them go.
    And yeah, if you have kids, chances are that sitting at a brewery or attending a beer festival is low on the scale of what they want to do. Get them a sitter.
    The *most* helpful thing that Charlotte Five could do is actually report on things other than breweries and beef festivals. Also…. Come up with a list of activities for people to do that don’t involve alcohol and go beyond the low hanging fruit of whitewater center, farmer’s market and Crowder’s mountain. Investigate. Learn. Report.

  7. “And it’s gotta be a strain on some brewers to make beer for — and staff — all of these events throughout the year.”

    I went to the Bourbon and Beer one over the weekend, the people pouring more often than not weren’t associated with the brewery. They were set up in the same tents, with a banner hung on the back. Everyone wore all black and just had “event staff” name tags. You could ask them about the beer and they wouldn’t know much more besides the same and the type of beer.

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