Lake Norman refines taste for beer at brewers festival
HUNTERSVILLE – Connoisseurs gathered Saturday, May 12, at Rural Hill to get a taste of North Carolina’s next big thing – craft beer.
“North Carolina is the fastest-growing microbrew state in the nation,” said Madison Smith, communications manager for Greensboro-based Natty Greene’s Brewery.
The brewery is one of many that participated in the daylong North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival at the historic nature preserve.
More than 50 microbrewers in the state have North Carolina poised to be an industry leader, she said.
Natty Greene’s produces beers ranging from 3.8 percent alcohol by volume to more than 10 percent, compared to the 3.2 percent found in most domestic beers.
But it’s taste more than alcohol content that attracts microbrew drinkers.
“This is a beer of flavor, to enjoy and nurse,” Mike Pauza said, hoisting a two-ounce serving of brew from Ass Clown Brewing Company, a craft beer producer located on Bailey Road in Cornelius.
Standing alongside the Ass Clown tent on Saturday, Pauza pondered the brewmaster’s creativity.
“Where does he get these flavors?” he said. “It must have been through a dream somehow.”
After swishing another swallow, Pauza tasted apples, butter, vanilla beans and chocolate.
“I know what I like,” said Matt Glidden, creator of Ass Clown’s specialty brews. “I go after something that compliments foods and beers which are not out there right now.”
Nontraditional flavors and organic ingredients form the foundation of his beers. He works with local merchants and mountain farmers to find just the right components for his recipes.
Glidden began making craft beers in his garage eight years ago, then turned the hobby into a business in 2010. He’ll move into a bigger facility this summer, hoping to boost production from 120 gallons a week to nearly 900.
“The whole goal is to bring everybody into craft and away from the large corporations,” Glidden said.
And Saturday’s crowd indicated a growing segment of the population is making that shift. Roughly 3,500 guests came out to sample craft beers from around the region this year, tripling the inaugural festival in 2011.