I can’t go to Beericana.
The first reason I can’t go to Beericana is that I now live in Indiana after having spent 24 years in North Carolina. The second reason I can’t go to Beericana is that I’m currently in the midst of chemotherapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma.1 While I technically am allowed to have an occasional beer during chemo, drinking all day at an out of state Beer Festival is obviously a no-go. So despite my fondness for craft beer and my particular loyalty to those brewed in the Old North State, I can’t go to Beericana.
Fortunately, if you’re reading this, chances are you are planning on (or at least considering) attending Beericana. While I probably don’t need to guilt you into drinking beer there, I can potentially guilt you into drinking specific craft offerings that I would drink if I was there.
To that end (and because i’m a masochist) I downloaded the Beericana app and browsed the entire list of beers offered. Here are the beers that I would drink, but can’t drink, and thus you should drink.2
Wicked Weed Batch 1000
My basic strategy for any beer festival is to find a local brewery I already like and then get samples of the most exotic thing they offer — usually something barrel aged. The underlying logic is that it usually is a special beer they don’t distribute and have on year round — why drink something you could drink any day of the week at a festival? Plus taster glass pours are ideal for trying out high ABV offerings that would otherwise weigh you down. With that in mind here’s the description of Wicked Weed’s Batch 1000.
A bourbon-barrel aged imperial dark ale brewed with turbinado sugar, dried cherries, golden raisin, star anise, rose hips and plums.
Done and done.
Fullsteam Farm’s Edge Gose
If you want to be looked at as a legit beer aficionado you need to try a couple sour beers. With everyone and their mother now brewing IPAs, sour style beers (Gose, Sours, and Berliner-Weiss) are now the go-to for craft beer snobs.3 While Beericana has a good handful of sour beers to sample, if you’re somewhat skeptical about the concept of “sour beer,” Fullsteam’s Farm’s Edge seems like a good jumping off point. The Durham-based brewery prides itself on NC-sourced ingredients and this beer is no exception, brewed with sea salt from the outer banks and locally foraged spruce tips.
Sycamore Gourd Have Mercy Pumpkin Pie Amber
I usually have a very strict “No Pumpkin Beers til October” policy. Pumpkin beer is meant to be consumed on cool October evenings when the leaves start changing colors — not in 90 degree August weather. However, beer festivals are on the rare exceptions to this policy. Approach pumpkin beer at Beericana the way you do the NFL preseason — you’re only there to figure out who may make the roster once the real action kicks off. The Gourd Have Mercy from Sycamore Brewing in Charlotte caught my eye as a potential Jeremy Cash of Pumpkin Beer Season.
Burial Massacre of Innocents IPA
Last fall my family spent a couple nights in Asheville during Thanksgiving Break. My dad and I drove up earlier in the day so that we could spend the afternoon checking out a few of Asheville’s cornucopium of microbreweries. After a couple very solid stops we ended up at Burial. I got an IPA. In a day of sampling high quality craft beers this IPA still stood out as absolutely amazing. I can’t say for certain that this elixir of the gods was “Massacre of Innocents,” but if I were you I’d recommend sampling it just in case.
Foothills Jade IPA
This is a departure from the beer festival strategy I laid out above. I had Jade IPA on many occasions while living in Winston-Salem for medical school. I have it whenever I return to North Carolina, now that Foothills started distributing it in six packs. But here’s the thing. Jade is the best beer at this festival. That’s not even just my opinion. Jade IPA is the highest ranked North Carolina beer on Beer Advocate appearing at Beericana. You will get Jade at Beericana. If I find out you didn’t then I’ll make sure you sample “These Hands Imperial Stout” next time I see you.
So there you go. While dozens of beers caught my eye while browsing the Beericana lineup, I went with five that I suggest demand you drink in my honor. As for the rest, the best part of a beer festival is aimlessly wandering from tent to tent and impulsively trying whatever sounds good.
- Fortunately it’s low stage and very treatable with chemo. ↩
- These are my honest picks and I received no incentives from any of the Breweries mentioned. That said if any of the breweries wanna hook a brother up with some bombers for the free promotion, hit me up on Twitter ↩
- I personally have come to really like sours, especially during the summer due to their lighter taste and lower ABV ↩