by Karen Into

(editor’s note: Karen Into attended the 1st annual Waynesville Craft Beer Festival for the Asheville Ale Trail, and the following are some reflections of the days events, along with some pictures.  Karen is a local lover of all things Asheville Beer, and when she’s not enjoying an Asheville Beer, she’s making cool stuff to celebrating it.  Check Karen’s work out at her Etsy shop, Brews & Jewels.)

The small town of Waynesville held its first annual Craft Beer Festival on August 31st, 2013 with  15 breweries in attendance and 3 local bands taking the stage at the American Legion Park.  Waynesville is already home to three great craft breweries and is certainly no stranger to the WNC craft brewing scene, but this weekend’s first-of-its-kind festival firmly places the town high on the list of places to visit if you’re interested in finding out more about North Carolina Beer.

Although a smaller festival (to be expected in its first year), the event had much more of a friendly, down-home feel to it when compared to many of the larger, more seasoned beer fests.  The atmosphere was more about hanging out, getting to meet the folks behind the breweries, and mingling with other beer drinkers…a welcome change for the all too common situation at larger fests where patrons are standing in inevitably long lines waiting on for bathrooms and beer samples.  And to be sure, the festival was well attended, but definitely not overcrowded.

As this summer has been quite a wet one, the day could not pass without some rain…and boy did it rain!  Around 2pm came rolling thunder and lightning and a seriously hard rain!  Attendees scattered from the weather, seeking shelter under the beer tents, awnings of the surrounding buildings and even into the coach’s boxes there on the ball field.  After the impromptu rain delay, the sun came out and gave us a beautiful day! We’d like to give a special shout out to our friends at the Asheville Brews Cruise, who kindly offered to share their tent with us.

All three of Waynesville’s local breweries were in attendance, BearWaters Brewing, Frog Level Brewing and Tipping Point Brewery.  BearWaters was the driving force behind the event and definitely had some wonderful brews on tap such as their White Water Hefewiezen.  I did not have a chance to sample all of the beers available, but some of the tastiest ones I tried were the Dissident IPA from Wicked Weed Brewing and Tipping Points Punch in Your Face IPA (you’ll have to note that I am a bit of an IPA fanatic).  While those were just a few of my personal highlights, there were really so many great beers I sampled, it’s hard to know where to really even begin!

I’m looking forward to going back next year.  I’m betting next year’s event will be bigger (and better) with a few more breweries in attendance, but still keeping the scene relaxed and all about fun and new friends.  Cheers to Waynesville on showing the beer world just how much a small town can do!