I made a point of visiting only those breweries that were new to me (well, mostly) since that is the best reason to participate in such events. So, below a list, in no particular order, they were all good, of ones that I visited (and remembered to take a pic). Several were from out of state and making their debut entrance to this well-regarded festival.
One of the most anticipated was Great Lakes Brewing from Cleveland.
|Luke Purcell, Brewer, in a rare quiet moment as the line grows.
They were pouring four of their beers, including their very well known Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (7.5% abv) and a special Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout (10% abv). The Porter was easily one of the best I've ever had. Light to medium body, zesty carbonation and a very satisfying roasted malt finish. Well balanced hops keep it very dry.
|Eager beer lovers anxious to try Great Lakes.
A very important reason that Great Lakes was so popular is that it's not distributed here, tho they are working on a Charlotte presence in the very near future. So, for the moment, heading out to Cleveland is your best bet of getting some.
|"Chief" Northcutt has a smile as bright as the cans!
Out-of-state brewery, Big Storm Brewing from Odessa, FL, made a colorful display of their cans-only beers. They poured their Arcus IPA (6.9% abv, 81 IBUs) and Wavemaker Amber (5.8% abv, 38 IBUs), both of which were good examples of their respective styles. Maybe they are responsible for all the sunny weather that suddenly appeared in time for the festival.
|Christopher Lipscomb, whom I forgot to ask about the brewery's name.
They had two new brews for me on tap, the Milk Stout, (5.7% abv) and their Porter, (5.7% abv). They only produce dark beers and these two were shining examples. I gave the porter the edge, mostly because of the flavor and feel of the finish.
|Tara Goulet made sure each sample came with a smile.
Coming all the way from Charlotte (joke) to contribute to the fun was Bird Song Brewing, pouring two of their Winter Releases, Honey Pie Double IPA, (8.9% abv, 80 IBUs) and The Pride Belgian Abbey, (9.3% abv, 35 IBUs). Both live up the the Festival's Winter Warmer theme.
|Meghan Burt and her assistant insured all had "big" fun at the event.
Those were the new breweries on my list that I got a chance to spend some time with. Of course, I couldn't get to some others; crowds, time and my own need for occasional liquid reenforcement just took up a huge chunk of time. Did manage to get a few photos, so if you ever visit the breweries, let them know you saw them here and that I will try to visit this year. Thanks.