NC Hops Festival draws crowd of beer fans who miss Brewgaloo's vibe

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- What do you do when you can't Brewgaloo?

The answer was at the NC Fairgrounds in Raleigh this weekend. That's where on Saturday, the first NC Hops Festival brought together craft brewers and thirsty people who miss the atmosphere of taverns during the height of the pandemic.

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For a $45 fee, beer fans have the opportunity to sample a variety of local beers, cider and seltzers during four hour, socially distanced sessions.
"The brewing industry and the small business industry took a real hit during the pandemic," said Jennifer Martin of Shop Local Raleigh. These are the people who don't have a 401K, corporate backing, things like that to help them."

Those breweries help themselves with witty names for their products, displayed on large colorful signs to distinguish themselves from their friendly competitors.

"I mean, there's over 8,000 breweries in this country, they all make 20 plus beers," said Scott Olin of the NoDa Brewing Company. "They all got a unique name!"

Some, like Tap Truck NC, helped some of their neighbors at the festival handle the demand.

"We are pouring for breweries that are short staffed," said Jim Morris. "We're a representative company that does beverage catering. We do beer and wine, anything that you can put in a keg."

Those kegs get a workout this weekend, but the serving sizes are not what you might order in a bar.
"We want you to pace yourself. Be responsible in all things. It is a two ounce, sampler size cup." said Martin.

"Look how tiny it is! They're so cute! I'm excited to fill it up a few times," said Anna Gaines moments after entering the festival.

Asked which beer she'll sample first, she replied: "It has a curse word in the name, and has clowns in it!"

Outside, festival organizers arranged several food trucks for those who get hungry while they drink. Designated drivers paid just ten dollars to enter with their friends who'll attend a four hour session.

The festival continues on Sunday. with those sessions scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.. You can RSVP by visiting the NC Hops Festival's Facebook page.

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