by Bo McMillan
There are few things in the world as perfect as the first sip of a good, cold beer on a scorching summer day. It's only natural, then, that multiple beer-related events are coming to the area to make good of Charlotte's sweltering summer weather and quench our thirsts for malty, hoppy deliciousness.
Two upcoming events are the Charlotte Brewers Festival and the EpiCentre Charlotte Beer Festival. Both will feature craft beer rather than the swills commonly known as commercially-produced beers, and each will give fans of the beverage the opportunity to spend the day guzzling, I mean, critically experiencing, a diverse arrange of breweries and styles.
Fans of, as I love to say, cerveza buena, however, must prepare for a tough decision when it comes these events - in an unfortunate turn, a scheduling crisis has placed both on June 1. But fret not, my brewski-loving compatriots, as a quick overview of their differentiating characteristics will ease your decision-making process and help you soundly pick the one more fit for you.
First and foremost in importance, of course, is the difference between the types of beers featured at each event. The EpiCentre will focus on national craft breweries such as Great Lakes and Sweetwater, making it more approachable to craft beer newbies and highbrow aficionados. It will also be more appealing to those seeking a wider variety of beers and easily recognizable names, as there will be 50+ brewers on site.
For those that favor a more local-centric take on cold ones, the Charlotte Brewers Festival focuses exclusively on beers made in the area. For those who want a more intimate knowledge of the brewing process from local favorites like NoDa Brewing Company and Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, as well as the locavores and dreamers who hope that Charlotte will eventually compete with the craft-beer mecca of Asheville for state supremacy, this festival would be ideal.
(Asheville, by the way, is also celebrating craft beer on June 1 with its Beer City Festival. But, unlike both of Charlotte's events, that one is sold out.)
The other differences between the festivals are minute. Both will have live music, but the Charlotte Brewers Festival will have a more local feel to the acts. Continuing that contrast, the Pavilion at the EpiCentre is located close to chain fast-food joints and high-class dining, either of which will give patrons a familiar way to sop up the brew in their bellies, while local food trucks will actually be on site for the Charlotte Brewers Festival.
No matter which you end up attending, both are promising opportunities for beer fans and neophytes alike to learn and experience the craft beer surge sweeping the country.
The EpiCentre Charlotte Beer Festival goes from 2 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Pavilion at the EpiCentre. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at http://charlottebeerfestival.eventbrite.com/. The Charlotte Brewers Festival runs from 1 p.m.-8 p.m. at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Tickets can be purchased online at www.charlottebrewersfestival.com for $15 or at the festival for $25.