First beer fest coming to Waynesville
By Greg Copen | Jul 10, 2013

Home brewing is now legal in all 50 states, thanks to the recent passage of legislation in Mississippi and Alabama.

Brewing at home was outlawed at the beginning of Prohibition and not legalized again until President Jimmy Carter approved it in 1978. The legislation passed the regulatory authority to the states, but some – ironically Deep South states — were reluctant to allow their citizens the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful hobby.

The growth of the craft beer industry somewhat corresponds with the legalization of home brewing. I’m guessing this is because many of the home brewers began experimenting with small batches in their garage. The major breweries concentrated on pale lagers that paled (pardon the pun) in comparison to the complex and flavorful beers a home brewer could create.

Some home brewers honed their skills and decided to share their beer with the public. Their entrepreneurial drive has expanded the beer market and the increased sale of micro brews is proof of the public’s desire for more variety and robust flavors.

The opening of microbreweries began a revolution in the American beer market. The general public enjoyed the new and exciting concoctions and began searching for more. Breweries like Samuel Adams began nationwide distribution and the market for craft beers exploded. In the mid-1980s, it was difficult to find a microbrewery. Fast forward 25 years and a town the size of Waynesville has three!

Another byproduct of the expanding craft beer industry is the proliferation of beer festivals. I’ve attended various local and national festivals, and traveled to Denver a couple years ago for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).  The GABF attracts close to 50,000 participants annually and is considered to be the largest ticketed beer festival in the U.S. Beer festivals give you an opportunity to sample and compare a wide variety of beers from different breweries. I spent my time sampling the porters and stouts.

On June 1, I attended the Beer City Festival in Asheville. Even though it was considerably smaller than the GABF, I enjoyed it more. The GABF is held inside a huge convention center, where the crowd is loud and a little overwhelming.

Asheville’s Beer City Festival is held outdoors and music fills the air. The crowd is considerable smaller, but equally enthusiastic about their beer. About 40 craft brewers served their malted grain alcoholic beverages to thousands of fanatics. Several bands entertained the crowd and everybody in our group had an excellent experience.

This Labor Day weekend, the American Legion and the three local breweries will host Waynesville’s first ever beer festival, coinciding with several events like the Block Party. Many craft breweries from Asheville and surrounding states have committed to serve their beers at this historic event. Organizers have booked a couple bands to provide the entertainment. Tickets are limited, so hurry and get yours at

I’m sure there’s a saturation point for microbreweries, but there will always be a market for great beers. Festivals like the upcoming Waynesville Craft Beer Fest will ensure the continued success of fine quality beers, while also adding an economic punch to Haywood County tourism.