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Triangle Downtowner

Beericana Craft Beer and Music Festival

Aug 27, 2017 11:38AM ● Published by Crash Gregg

By Christy Griffith • Photos from 919 Beer

On Saturday, September 9, the 4th annual Beericana Craft Beer and Music Festival will draw thousands of people from the Triangle and beyond to the grassy lawn of Sugg Farm in Holly Springs. Hosted by 919 Beer, Beericana is one of the best beer fests you’ll be lucky enough to attend: food trucks, Americana bands, and beer tents galore intermingle into the most sublime of Saturday afternoons. The two couples behind 919 Beer, Adam and Brigid Eshbaugh and Wayne and Kelly Holt, work tirelessly to make sure the festival goes off without a hitch (or at least any hitches visible to the public).

Although they are in the middle of preparing for this year’s festival, Adam, Brigid, and Wayne were able to take some time to answer some questions you didn’t even know you wanted to ask. You’re welcome, friends!

 

How did 919 Beer get started?

Adam: 919 Beer started five years ago as a group of guys meeting once a month at a brewery, just to get out of the house and enjoy some time together away from work. Many of us had young kids at the time, so we wanted a monthly diversion. We didn’t just want to go out to a bar; we wanted to learn more about beer. I began reaching out to breweries to see if we could set up some kind of exclusive tour and/or tasting, and that’s how we started. Our first meeting was with ten guys at Aviator Brewing Company on July 25, 2012. Over time, wives started joining us and the monthly meetings eventually reached 50-60 people. Through these events, Wayne and I made a lot of connections in the beer industry, eventually even working festivals for some of them.

 

 What inspired you to start Beericana?

Adam: We started attending a few beer festivals and came up with the idea to start our own. We attended more than few over the first couple years, so we saw some things we really liked as well as some things we thought were done poorly- lack of bathrooms, long lines, unattended trash cans, etcetera. We decided to start our own festival, taking all of those things into account. We figured we could make an event that people could enjoy responsibly. We knew we didn’t want it to be a drunkfest. Just like our monthly brewery tours, we wanted to create an event where people would go and have a good time, but also be able to learn and appreciate the beers from all the different breweries.

 

What makes your beer fest different from all the others?

Wayne: Our love for craft beer and desire to offer something really special to the brewers, as well as the patrons. We have a very unique set-up for our festival due to the fact that it’s hosted on 116 acres. We have plenty of free parking, and room to spread out so even though there may be 4000 people in attendance, you don’t feel like you’re in a crowd.

Adam: We put the brewers first! We have a great brewers’ party the night before, where we feed them and have a fun bottle share. The morning of the festival, we have a big buffet breakfast while they’re setting up. We give them lunch during Beericana. Finally, after the event, we have an afterparty for those with any energy left. For out-of-town brewers, we put them up in a hotel for two nights with transportation to and from the brewers’ dinner and after party provided.

Brigid: We also pay for the beer; it’s not donated, so we are supporting all the breweries that are attending the festival.

Adam: When the brewers are taken care of and appreciated, they’re happy to be there. They bring some very special beers to the event, and the festival-goers reap the benefits! It’s a trickle-down effect. Also, we do everything we can to make sure patrons are happy. We always have more than enough bathrooms on site. We provide waters, thanks to 12 Oaks, our water sponsor. Our VIP area has additional, air-conditioned bathrooms as well as a tented seating area. This year, we’re adding two 40 x 100’ shade tents and a few large misting fans – we learned our lesson from last year’s heat wave!

 

How do you divvy up the work amongst yourselves? What does each of you bring to the table?

Adam: I handle lining up the breweries and food trucks. Wayne works on most of the legal stuff, like permitting and working with the Town of Holly Springs, in addition to sponsorships and ticketing. Our wives do a bunch of stuff behind the scenes: Brigid makes our online forms and organizes sign-ups while handling all of our volunteers. Our friends Todd and Elyse Darling are a huge help behind the scenes as well. Elyse handles most of our signage and graphics while Todd takes care of our website. They both also work with Brigid to take care of the day-of flow getting people in and out of the event smoothly.

 

It sounds like a lot of work. How long does it take to plan? How many volunteers are required to make Beericana run smoothly?

Adam: We really start focusing about six months ahead of time, but sponsorship work starts about the first of the year. Now that we’ve added Capitol Broadcasting as a partner of ours, handling our advertising and sponsorships, that’s taken a big weight off our shoulders! I’m scared to even estimate the number of man-hours it takes to pull this thing off.

Brigid: We try to get at least twenty-five ticketing volunteers for the first half of the day and ten who will stay all day. We have about 25-35 all-day brewery volunteers who help pour at the tents.

 

 

What do you wish more people knew? Biggest misconception?

Adam: The biggest misconception is that we’re basically printing money and that it’s this huge team of people running the event when, in fact, it’s essentially a half-dozen of us meeting at my kitchen table and I’m not driving a Bugatti.

Brigid: Yes, we all have full-time jobs and this gets planned on our own time. We have yet to be able to attend the event or have one beer while the festival is going on.

Wayne: As Adam mentioned, I think the biggest misconception is that we are getting rich. Festivals, in general, are not very profitable; they are a labor of love. We each take on lots of responsibilities and we communicate with one another. Most festivals are put on by large groups of volunteers that come together at the very end and haven’t communicated along the way. We are able to answer any question that someone could have because we handle every aspect of the festival.

 

Which brewery are you most excited about coming to Beericana this year?

Adam: We’ve got about a dozen new breweries coming this year! We need to make sure we keep updating our brewery list so people will keep coming back. Otherwise, if they’re anything like me, they’ll stop coming if it’s the same thing every year. This year, I’m excited to have some new local breweries like Brice’s Brewing and Tarboro Brewing Company for the first time. I’m also looking forward to having some new-to-NC breweries like Revision Brewing Company out of Sparks, Nevada, who is actually launching in the Triangle the week of Beericana. The owner will be here pouring at the event! And, of course, I’m proud to have The Mason Jar Lager Company pouring this year. {Adam and Brigid co-own Fuquay’s newest brewery on the scene, the Mason Jar Lager Company, with Jon and Maggie Pierce of the Mason Jar Tavern, featured in issue 109 of the Triangle Downtowner, which you can read on our website, www.TriangleDowntowner.com}

Brigid: We don’t get to try anything at the festival but we do enjoy the brewers’ dinner with the bottle share. I’m excited to see what Southbound brings to share this year and also excited to see what special stuff Mason Jar Lager Company makes!

 

What is your current favorite beer?

Brigid: There are a few. Highwire Low-Pitch Juicy IPA, Mason Jar’s Happy Place Helles, and Trophy’s Trophy Wife.

Adam: Obviously I’m drinking a lot of lagers these days. With this hot weather, Mason Jar Lager Company’s Happy Place Helles is my go-to beer. It’s only 4.5%, light, gold, and cold! But I’m still a sucker for the hoppy stuff. We’ve got Bond Brothers Long Stride on tap in our office at the brewery. Any IPAs or Pale Ales from Trophy and Lynwood. And I’m really enjoying Tropicale from Boonshine.

 

 

What’s the most under-appreciated beer in your opinion?

Wayne: I think the most underappreciated beer right now is beer-flavored beer. I think we have all gotten so caught up in lots of hops, coffee, barrel-aged, fruit-flavored, and about anything else you can think of that we have forgotten how to appreciate a well-made classic beer.

Adam: Lighter beers. Simple beers. Beers that when they’re well made, people don’t really think much about them because they’re not using sexy new exotic hops and crazy ingredients, like Helles or Pilsner or Kolsch or Cream Ale. They’re unremarkable to much of the beer-drinking world, but you can tell so much about a brewery by tasting their light beers. You can’t hide behind a ton of hops or high ABV.

 

Tips for the first-time guest?

Brigid: Yes! Wear sunscreen. Take Taxi Taxi, Uber, or Lyft. Come with friends and share meals from all the food trucks because the options are amazing! Don’t wear heels. And…be nice. People love nice people.

Visit Beericana.com to buy tickets and see the full line-up of brewers, food trucks, and bands for this year’s festival. You can subscribe to the weekly 919 Beer Podcast hosted by Adam, Wayne, and Joe Ovies from 99.9 The Fan on your favorite podcasting app. If you missed this year’s Beericana, we’ll be posting lots of photos and a complete list of the breweries attending on our Facebook and Instagram pages, Triangle Downtowner Magazine.

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