Beer festival season peaks in the southeast in September and October but there’s a few outliers. Chattanooga’s Southern Brewers Festival is one of those. It’s held in August when it is roughly 150 degrees in Chattanooga.
It’s a token-based beer festival, which means you have to buy a token for each beer. A token costs $3 so a beer isn’t really a trial size which discourages too much experimentation (only one of our beers ended up in the Tennessee River). Most of the festival is up along the edge of the city, but the river is more scenic so that’s what we have in the picture. A nice thing about this festival is that it runs for 11 hours! So, we arrived in Chattanooga, checked into a downtown hotel and came to the festival for several hours. In the afternoon we went back and took a nap and then came back for another round.
As beer festivals go, the entertainment was pretty good. In the afternoon things were pretty laid back. There was a qualifying round for the Krystals World hamburger eating championships. If you’ve ever seen any competitive eating on TV with that annoying announcer in the carnie hat, let me just say he’s 10 times more annoying in person. Incidentally, one has to eat 51 Krystals in 10 minutes in order to win a giant trophy. On the plus side, they handed out the uneaten Krystals afterwards and we can report that after several beers, Krystals actually taste pretty darn good.
Hickory Hops is the first relatively local beer festival of the year. It’s basically a ring of thirty or so breweries around one tiny little park.
This has never been much of an issue in the past but Hickory Hops has been growing rather quickly and I suspect they may need more space in the near future. One nice aspect of Hickory Hops though is that it is right downtown and you’re free to come and go (as long as your beer glass is empty). This allows you to eat at some of the local restaurants which is good filler in between 10 or 20 samples of beer.
Ok so this isn’t really local but we don’t actually intend to do a full page on one brewery (sorry). Actually, Rehoboth Beach is within a day’s drive from Asheville so it counts as local by our standards.
Anyway, we spent New Year’s Eve in Delaware at the Dogfish Head Brewery. Why? Well, because they had an interesting five course beer pairing meal planned, and because it was festive, and because we already liked their beer.
When we arrived we promptly ordered beers, mostly because they asked us if we wanted one. This was a stupid thing to do considering each course came with a beer and despite the menu claiming they would be half-pints, they were generally all pints. This is the first course, a deconstructed Tuna Nicoise salad with an unbelievably fantastic aioli and a glass of Pangaea (brewed using ingredients from all 7 continents, because the Dogfish Head brewers have too much free time).
Here’s course 4 which was duck cassoulet. Obviously a bit deconstructed yet again, but still good. There’s a pint of pale ale, with what might be an Indian Brown behind it. It’s hard to drink a full beer with each course so we were running about 2 beers behind through the middle section of the meal. Don’t worry though, we caught up in the end.
As you can see, we have many beads. Melanie gets feathers too for some reason. We’re not actually as drunk as we might look here, my cheek looks like that because one day earlier Trout clawed me there while I was trying to teach him how to toboggan. (no, really, honest that’s what happened.) After the meal, there was a band, more drinks, fireworks, and a short taxi ride through outlet malls to our hotel.