Fillmore Craft Beer Sessions

As the beer scene in Charlotte continues to grow and evolve, we are seeing more and more events with a wide variety of formats and focus. The Fillmore Craft Beer Sessions event is the latest addition to the craft beer event scene. On Saturday night, October 18, the Fillmore opened its doors to beer nerds and newbies alike for its first beer festival-style event.

Lagunitas Pouring 2011 Gnarlywine

Lagunitas Pouring 2011 Gnarlywine

The event was organized by two Fillmore employees, Tim Hendricks (general manager) and Chris Ozment. Somehow, they convinced LiveNation and the Fillmore to let them put on this event! But don’t be mistaken. This was not a LiveNation event, but an event that LiveNation, owners of the Fillmore, allowed to occur in their space. Tim and Chris were actually on Episode 70 of the Cheers Charlotte podcast talking about it. Brawley’s and Salud sponsored the event, so you know it’s legit!

Tickets were $35+fees (no fees at the box office!) in advance and $40 the day of the event. They also ran a Groupon the week of the event, so you could get tickets for as low at $25. Tickets included a sampling glass and 4 hours (5pm-9pm) of unlimited samples of 80 different beers served by 40 different breweries with some very special brews making an appearance. One of the surprises (to me) of the evening was that Charlotte Bar Athletes setup cornhole and some other activities behind the Fillmore on the Time Warner Amphitheater stage (yes ON the stage). Food trucks (Maryland Crab Cake Co and JJ’s Red Hots) were also stationed out back alongside the additional activities. And for background music, they had a DJ playing 60s soul and groove music on the stage at a volume that accommodated a big crowd and conversation. It was really well put on.

From behind the soundboard

From behind the soundboard

But what about the beer? I have to say, I was really impressed by the selection of beers available for sampling. Local breweries like Unknown and NoDa were well represented so there was no lacking for the local option. Additionally, NC beers were also highlighted with Wicked Weed, Foothills, and Big Boss pouring as well. And of course, it was amazing to see the out-of-towners with Lagunitas, Florida Brewing, Troegs, Ommegang, and more represented.

And the specific offerings? I’ll be honest and say it was hard to keep track at times, but I definitely had a few highlights. If you didn’t already hear, Lagunitas brought an amazing gem, a 2011 Gnarlywine that was incredible. It’s a barleywine that’s just over 10% and was originally around 70 IBUs. The aging on this beer is wonderful. The bitterness complimented the malty nature very nicely.

Additionally, I quite enjoyed some of the seasonal brews including an oak pumpkin cask from Foothills. I’m not typically a pumpkin fan, but this one was nice and light on the pumpkin. And how can I not mention NoDa’s Olde Voyager which is a barleywine rumored to have originated from Todd Ford’s own homebrew recipe book. This is one of my favorite gems that has made an appearance at only one other event (the Cheers Charlotte Pre-Oktoberfest Festival of Festivals etc etc), and I really enjoy it. It’s a nice malty sipper. And who could not mention Wicked Weed? Again, pumpkins aren’t my favorite, but Wicked Weed’s pumpkin brews generally hit the spot for me, and their offering at this festival was no different.

Overall, it was a really fun and laid back event. There wasn’t a lot of pressure, and there were no lines to get beer. The attendance was probably a little low considering the amount of information posted about, but I don’t think this will be the last event at the Fillmore. I really hope they can do more marketing for the next one to increase attendance. Everything else about this festival is right on the money: good food, solid (not just drinking) entertainment, a great venue, and awesome beer. I can’t wait for the next event!

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a gallery of the photos I captured. All photos in this post are property of and copyright by Rachel Parsons aka Pinky aka Pinkeerach.

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