Personally, it’s been a while. For the last few years, Mike has been the sole Raleigh Beer Guys presence at the Raleigh WBF. This year, I circled the date on the calendar months ahead of time. And I’m glad I did.
The wife and I negotiated some road closures and finally found ourselves walking up to Moore Square. The weather was picture perfect for an early spring day, temps in the high 60s/low 70s, and lots of sun in the forecast. After finding our way inside, we made our first stop the Beers Made by Walking tent.
The idea for this tent was that brewers would find inspiration from nature during hikes or urban walks. In total, 6 breweries participated: Bull City Ciderworks, Fonta Flora, Fullsteam, G2B, Haw River, and Southern Pines. I must say this was my first time trying dandelion and pine needle beers.
The Road Not Taken, an English IPA from Southern Pines Brewery was my favorite. The base malt was from Farmboy Farms and the yeast contained a native strain isolated from peach blossoms in one of the brewers’ back yard.
After getting our fill of nature, we started our march through the North Carolina Brewery tents. Once again, the tent layout made great use of the available space. Each brewery had its own tent spread out through the grassy center of Moore Square. This made navigating from tent to tent much easier, and when long lines did form (Bold Rock, I’m looking at you), they didn’t cause traffic jams like in previous years. A few favorites I want to highlight: D-9 Hakuna Matata (New Zealand IPA) and the White Street Thunder Child Cask (Imperial Smoked Porter w/ Ancho Chiles and Cocoa). Both beers were fantastic and warranted seconds (any maybe thirds).
With a mild sunburn and a growing hunger, we made our way into the big tents. One of the features this year was the Belgian Bier Tent. We missed out on a few goodies because of our lolly gagging outside, but my eyes went wide when I spotted a stash of Rochefort 10 bottles. My wife’s eyes went wide when she saw the Small Cakes cupcake table. I found an appropriate one (with Bourbon in it), and made quick work of it.
The main tent felt downright spacious with the smaller crowds this year (due to a better layout and a smaller cap on ticket sales this year). After a few more stops in the main tent we headed outside to the food truck area for some proper food. The food truck area was off to the side but had covered seating to get out of the sun. It was also very close to the “Walking” tent, so I was able to grab some more Southern Pines English IPA to wash down a fancy grilled cheese.
The turnout was impressive, the crowds not too rowdy, the beer selection plentiful, and the weather perfect. Here’s hoping next year’s is even better. Cheers!