Brewgrass backlash? Beer City Guide writer has outgrown Brewgrass ‘keg party’

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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First East End neighbors complained of trash, public urination, and rude, drunken behavior in 2011. Now the Beer City Guide backs up a sentiment I’ve heard before, that great music and better beer are overshadowed by hammered crowds treating a beer & bluegrass festival like a bad frat party.

The Beer City Guide, a local publication devoted to the WNC beer scene, gets frank about Brewgrass, adding a new criticism: The event is overrun with out-of-towners, making a ticket that was already difficult to score into an Olympic-level event.

The last few Brewgrass Festivals have not felt much different than a college keg party. Because of the long lines for beer and the bathrooms plus the drunk antics of every amateur who attends, I have outgrown Brewgrass.

I must note I have attended nine out of the last 10 Brewgrass Festivals, and it was truly my favorite day of the year in Asheville. Come rain or shine I joined the beer faithful of Beer City USA and attempted to fill my little glass with more than 100 beers, all in one afternoon.

To show my allegiance to Brewgrass, I use each year’s little glass to get my orange juice fix every morning. There are probably others like me out there who do the same thing – but perhaps with something stronger to get them through the day. Beer lovers come from all over the country to enjoy this great event.

That’s the problem.

It has become an event in itself to get tickets to Brewgrass, and not a fun one. The tickets go on sale on Monday at noon. No wait, the system crashed and now they will go on sale on Wednesday; no, wait, you can only buy a maximum of six but I think I just ordered 12.

And on and on.

In the good old days, locals could score a ticket at a local brewery, but this year it was online only – where legend has it sold out in seven minutes. In a word, the ordeal has become ridiculous. I can appreciate that the organizers want to get additional revenue from out-of-towners, which I am all for in this economy, but the price is they have squeezed out many locals who so thoroughly enjoyed this day.

Read the full Beer City Guide post on Brewgrass here.

So, is Brewgrass jumping the shark? Has Christmas Day for Asheville beer lovers turned into Atlantans Gone Wild?

Previously on Ashvegas: Online ticket sales for Asheville’s Brewgrass festival crash, burn

Solutions, ideas and thoughts welcomed. Weigh in here.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Doug Sahm September 18, 2012

    I had fun.

  2. Brewgrass September 18, 2012

    The ticket snafu was so last year. 3000 tickets this year sold out in 8 minutes with no snafus. We held back 500 to sell to “locals”. If you can remember back to years 1-8 we couldn’t sell 700 tickets to just locals. This did not even cover the cost of putting the event on. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of WNC is a very worthy cause and gets their largest yearly check from Brewgrass and Beer City Festivals. Let’s remember that Brewgrass is a large part of why so many breweries are in this area.

  3. AOD September 18, 2012

    I’m with craggiebender; I felt the festival had a lot of “craft beer” patrons in the crowd, myself being one of them. I enjoyed the festival this year, just like in the past.


  4. Orbit DVD September 16, 2012

    I haven’t been since the late 90s when Bad Livers played. What has changed?

    1. indie September 17, 2012

      Nothing at all. They played this year too.

      1. Orbit DVD September 17, 2012

        Damn! Love me some Bad Livers.

  5. ScrewgrassGoer September 16, 2012

    The attendees at the Screwgrass party I attended all seemed to agree that between the online ticket price, the same breweries coming every year, the crapbag location and the level of douchery that has ensued as of late, our gathering–where people brought beer that they thought would be interesting and with varying levels of rarity–was a lot more affordable, fun and impressive.

  6. John September 16, 2012

    It seems pretty self righteous to say Brewgrass would be of higher quality with only locals. There are plenty of doufas’ in our town too…

  7. craggybender September 15, 2012

    The “what’s the strongest?” set was always in attendance. The “high-fashion gals” were always in attendance. It’s been the same crowd since its inception. It got popular, it grew in size, it changed venues a few times, it drew the beer-lovers and the buzz-lovers as it has since the first event. Bele Chere was cool when it first started and those fortunate enough to attend the first few now hate the current format. This is how it works. Don’t like it? Don’t go back. This year’s Brewgrass had a lot of folks that can appreciate craft beer and a lot of folks that more appreciate craft idiocy. It’s going to happen. I enjoyed both the beer and the people-watching. I stayed a few yards away from the senseless sloppy folks and got to try several tasty beers. The music could have been louder but I’m sure the festival organizers will address that in the future. Good show Brewgrass…

  8. Adam A September 15, 2012

    I have attended Brewgrass since it’s founding as both a brewery rep and as an ticket-holding attendee. It was always a blast, but a few years ago I noticed the people attending changed. First, the formation of the ‘tent-city’ then the women in high heels fashion outfits and guys in fancied up beach-wear, and then those who just asked “what’s the strongest’ or ‘what’s the lightest’.

    It has lost much of its charm. Before they went to online ticket sales, they always seemed to still sell out, so why the change? It may take longer, but it means that locals (who helped popularize it in the first place) got their fair chance.

  9. Ron Wagner September 15, 2012

    I was in full Brewgrass-hating mode – until I found it really easy to get two tickets at Barley’s when the final couple of hundred went on sale. So now I say, screw Screwgrass!

  10. Carl Donovan September 15, 2012

    Everyone stage your own Screwgrass! I’d arrange everything but to hell with that, I’m going camping!


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