Bikes, Brews & Views
Beech Mountain’s got entertainment on tap.
The inaugural Brews & Views beer festival hits the slopes of Beech Mountain Resort Saturday, Sept. 24, promising at least 33 beers to sample from regional and national breweries.
But there’s more to this keg than just libation. There’ll be live music, fireworks and bikes – lots of them.
The festival falls in the middle of the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships on Beech, and festivalgoers will get a front row seat.
“We had an idea for hosting a beer festival on Beech before we landed the bid for the Gravity National event, namely because it’s gorgeous up here, the weather is great and, of course, beer goes well with that,” said Amy Morrison, coordinator for the Beech Mountain Tourism Development Authority.
When Beech Mountain Resort won a two-year contract with the mountain biking event, Morrison realized they wouldn’t just be rolling out the barrels.
“It’s not just a four-hour beer festival, but a weekend festival of events,” she said.
The festival runs from 2 to 6 p.m. that Saturday, and for $25 ticket ($20 if purchased ahead of time), visitors get a souvenir sampling glass, bountiful beer, live music, a fireworks display and admission to the Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships. Designated drivers are admitted for free, though Beech Resort will offer a shuttle service for those staying on the mountain.
The festival will take place at the resort’s view house, rain or shine, with a sizable tent set up to accommodate the brew stations – and there will be more than a few. Breweries include Blue Moon, Oskar Blues, Carolina, New Belgium, Olde Hickory, Kind Beers, Boone Brewing, Starr Hill, Leffe, Red Hook, Widmer, Boddingtons, Shock Top, Natty Greene, Kona, Lone Rider, Krombacher, Tommy Knocker, Brooklyn, Bluepoint, Abita, Southern Tier and R.J. Rockers.
To complement the beverages, vendors will sell a variety of festival foods.
Kids are also welcome, as organizers will set up a “kids’ village” with inflatable playgrounds, face-painting, frozen goodies and family friendly activities.
The music starts at noon, featuring tunes from local and regional bands The Corduroy Road, Uncle Mountain, Now You See Them and Possum Jenkins.
About an hour after the festival closes, fireworks will light the night sky. But not before catching some mountain biking action.
“There will always be something to watch,” Morrison said. “This is the first time the Gravity Nationals have ever been held in the Southeast, so we want to showcase not only the mountain, but the High Country in general. We want to let the racers know we know how to have a good time and to roll out a red carpet for them, so they’ll feel welcome and want to come back.”
Tickets to Brews & Views, set for Saturday, Sept. 24, from 2 to 6 p.m., are available online at http://www.bandtastic.com/brewsandviews. For more information, call (800) 468-5506 or visit http://www.beechmtn.com.
Last December, USA Cycling, the national governing body for bicycle racing, brought Beech Mountain Resort some good news.
“We put a bid in … for nationals and also collegiate nationals,” said Talia Freeman, the resort’s marketing director. “We were awarded pro-nationals, so that was a pretty big deal.”
Swiftly thereafter, the resort contracted trail designer Christopher Herndon, of Brevard, to design a trail system to accommodate the nationals. Herndon designed and built the downhill trail, as well as the dual slalom course, and Beech has been working closely with USA Cycling to prepare for the event, Freeman said.
“Christopher has raced mountain bikes since childhood, and I would say he’s one of the best trail builders on the East Coast. He just knows a lot about safety and how to incorporate it, while also making it fun for the rider.”
Herndon also designed a lift system that would accommodate both rider and cycle on their trip to the top of the slopes.
“We got that fabricated locally by Avery Machine and Welding, and it accommodates 500 riders an hour,” Freeman said. “We tested them out, and they work flawlessly.”
Herndon spent nine weeks designing the course and will return the week prior to the event.
“We’ve hosted races, but this is the first time we’ve hosted something of this caliber,” Freeman said, “and it really surpasses the event, which is essentially serving as a catalyst … so we can open up a bike park.
“There’s a big demand for a bike facility with lift access in the Southeast, so, hopefully, some day we can make that happen. That’s years away … but this is giving us an opportunity to put that together. It’s been kind of like the golden ticket, so we’re excited. This will serve to give our mountain and the High Country the exposure that’s needed for the sport.”
Beech Mountain is already becoming a mountain biking destination, with its Emerald Outback trail system and the Beech Adventure Trail Park. Freeman’s hoping to expand those offerings, and the Gravity Nationals will offer visitors a chance to see for themselves.
The event starts Thursday with amateur racing and practice from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday features slalom events from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by music, and Sunday will see the downhill competition from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“It’s really spectator friendly, with plenty of points for spectator access,” Freeman said, adding that there’s no cost to watch. “It’s just a great opportunity for families and everyone to just come watch something different. By far, it’s one of the most exciting sports to watch.”
Volunteer staffers can get an even closer look, and those interested should call (828) 387-2011.
The competition is still open for registration, Freeman said, provided participants are USA Cycling qualified. To register, or for more information, visit http://www.usacycling.org.
Beech Mountain Resort is located at 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway in Beech Mountain. For more information, visit http://www.skibeech.com.