CORNELIUS – The Lake Norman Beerfest is moving from the Galway Hooker to a new location and rebranding itself due to its growth and popularity.
Organizers of what would be the fifth annual Lake Norman Beerfest announced recently that the festival will move to the new Knight’s baseball stadium in uptown and be called the Charlotte Beerfest.
“It’s been successful because of the community coming out to supporting local business,” said Victory Management Group Vice President Chris Sullivan, whose company helped establish Lake Norman Beerfest as a separate business. “But we’ve outgrown the space, which caused us to look for a new location. We partnered with the Knights and thought it would be a perfect opportunity for the region.”
Moving it to the city provides a bigger venue and space for having more beers, plus offers more access for people to participate, organizer Jeff Kupski said, adding it’s the same weekend as the Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game. At the Cornelius event, attendees came from all over, including South Carolina, and organizers hope the draw will be even broader now.
The Charlotte Beerfest will feature more than 100 beer selections (compared to last year’s 60), showcasing brews from local, national and international breweries, with unlimited tastings.
They will have a section called Carolina Country consisting of 25-30 beers specific to the Carolinas.
“We also have breweries that are moving into North Carolina as well as bigger breweries like Newcastle,” Kupski said.
In addition to the beers, there are also the musical and educational components. This year, attendees can hear live music from two local bands as well as a national act, which will be announced later. They can also learn about homebrewing through interaction with brewmasters.
“The vision was to partner with craft brews and let them introduce their product,” Sullivan said of the original intent. “Attendees can enjoy great music, food and great brews.”
As they have before, the beer festival will continue to partner with United Service Organizations of North Carolina and Ace and TJ’s Grin Kids Children's charities.
Popularity for craft beers has risen over the years, with new breweries opening regularly.
Kupski said the event started four years ago at the Galway Hooker with a group of friends getting together for a drink after work and brainstorming ideas for people to gather and enjoy craft beer.
Organizers are discussing a way to keep some aspect of the original event local.
“We are looking at the possibility of doing something in Lake Norman and having a more intimate event,” Sullivan said.
Kupski said in the four years they’ve held the event, there have never been any fights, people getting sick or any other problems. They hope to keep it that way.
“This is not just getting drunk," he said. "It’s about coming together.”
Want to go? The Charlotte Beerfest will take place 4-9 p.m. Sept. 20 at BB&T Ballpark, with an exclusive VIP tasting 3-4 p.m. Tickets will soon be on sale at www.charlottebeerfest.com.