Brewgaloo, the NC Craft Beer Festival 2015, was held on April 25th in downtown Raleigh, NC. My daughter and I trekked all the way down US-1 from Wake Forest, NC (all of 20 minutes) to get there. We very much enjoyed ourselves.
From the standpoint of NC brewers, this was one of the finest we have yet seen. All regions of NC seemed to be present and that is what made this an outstanding experience. From Highland Brewing in Ashville and NoDa Brewing in Charlotte, to White Street Brewing in Wake Forest or Deep River Brewing in Clayton to Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston towards the coast, I thought the overall selection of breweries was great. The token system that was used was also a vastly superior way to enjoy this festival. We liked it because if there was a beer we really enjoyed, we could get a full pint of it, instead of waiting in line and getting 2 ounce sample after 2 ounce sample.
The food trucks were outstanding and we thought the sheer numbers of them was a great addition. You could smell BBQ smoke wafting down the street right after passing peppers and onions sizzling or kabob meat being prepared. Really, if you went hungry (except for lack of money) at Brewgaloo, it was your own fault. And the fact that food was so readily available made the festival more pleasant as you didnt have to worry about pouring beer into an empty stomach and all that entails.
As for the bands, we cannot really say much. My daughter and I spent most of our time wondering all of Raleigh’s City Plaza taking in the beers, bobbles and boisterous people we were surrounded by. We could hear the bands all around, but really were not there to enjoy them. We were there to catch up on the NC brewing scene. Brewgaloo was an fantastic way to be able to do that, right in our own back yard (so to speak).
The bad/unfortunate. For one, it was raining, but as the organizers were not in control of the weather, this was just something fest goers had to muddle/puddle through. The other problem that a good number of festival goers encountered was exceedingly long lines for those who had prepurchased tokens online and had to wait in the “will call” line to pick them up. Having orgainized competitions and been part of festival crews in the past, this was a situation that is very hard to control. Since the festival was schedule for almost eight hours (2 – 10PM), there is really no way to judge when people with arrive (there was a large number arriving just after the start). This is a live & learn problem. As this festival is only a few years old, this type of problem will be worked out in after action meetings. Please do not hammer the festival organizers as we know they were working as hard as possible to remedy the issues.
As fests go, none will ever be perfect. What ShopLocalRaleigh and Brewgaloo are doing is definitely a great start. We will be back next year for sure.