Well, made it there, made it back! It was a fun, well run festival with many many fine beverages. Even though I live in the State, I'm amazed at the explosion of microbreweries in the western part of the State. I don't think you can swing a cat in Asheville and the surrounding areas without hitting a brewery.
We arrive fairly promptly at 12:15 and stayed until ~5:30 when the spousal unit and another buddy got done with beer and ready for dinner. I think my other buddy and I could have soldiered on a bit longer. Anyways, some of the highlights:
Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale...I balloted it as best of show. I just like all their beers.
Pisgah Pale Ale...close second! It has a hoppy profile and aroma that's like catnip for a hophead. With literally hundreds of beers to sample, tons of people were going back to PPA for 3rd and 4th refills, thus foregoing the opportunity to sample 3 or 4 other beers...
New River Pale Ale...this was very tasty and hoppy, and one I'll probably try to clone since they put pertinent recipe information on their website and encourage people to try clones.
Rogue...what can you say about the Imperial IPA that hasn't been said?
French Broad Brewery...amongst their many excellent beers, they also had a Blackberry Lambic that was out of this world...not nearly as sweet as many lambics, but just right to my taste buds. The head was a work of art...pearlescent perfectly uniform bubbles that reminded me of fish roe (but in a beer-appetizing sort of way...).
Olde Hickory Stout...definitely my favorite in the 'opaque beer' category.
Outer Banks Brewing Co...by far the best hefe I tried, a Lemongrass Wheat. Lemony but with an herbal quality.
Heinzelmannchen Brewery...don't remember what I had, just that I liked it (it was getting later in the day at that point...)!
Sweetwater Brewery...another fantastic hefe with just the right amount of banana and a perfect wheat finish.
Also went to the Tommyknocker booth since byo published a clone of their beer in a recent issue and I wanted to talk about it. The guy drawing the beers almost got in a fight with me and started talking about legal action if somebody had published his recipe! When I looked at the byo mag when I got home I saw "Thanks to Eric Rode, Lead Brewer at Tommyknocker for the information used to formulate this clone." Guess byo is safe...!
In any case, great festival, great atmosphere, and great camping weekend. I'm marking my calendar for next year.