By Greg Copen | Aug 12, 2013

We’re just days away from the first ever Waynesville Craft Beer Fest that will take place this Labor Day weekend.

The beer fest will be from 1 to 5 p.m. at the American Legion Ball field. This year’s highly anticipated event will focus on bringing us the best local music from three terrific bands and of course, a lot of local beers.

Our three local brewers, Frog Level Brewing, BearWaters Brewing and Tipping Point Brewing, will be serving their specialties, along with most of the Asheville breweries. I can hardly wait to enjoy the music and the opportunity to sample all the many beers of Western North Carolina.

Earlier this year, I was brewing about every three weeks, but a busy home and work schedule slowed my home brewing activities. For three months, I didn’t brew at all. As luck would have it, this lull corresponded with an increase of requests for samples from friends and family. The net effect resulted in a critical shortage in my home brew supply!

Kevin Sandefur from BearWaters Brewing Company invited me and several other home brewers to serve our home brews at the festival. My depleted inventory placed me in a pinch. I was down to less than a keg of a single beer, so I needed to brew immediately to have enough to serve at the festival.

I started searching my recipe book to determine which beers were the best options as I double-checked the calendar to determine if it would be ready to serve by the time the festival opens.

The first question on my mind was determining which brew to serve at the festival. Luckily, Kevin had given me a couple months’ notice, so I had just enough time to brew a little something to serve. My ales usually take about four weeks to completely ferment; my lagers take a little longer.

I decided to start with a lager that typically takes about eight weeks to completely condition. I ferment my lagers for two weeks in a primary fermenter, and then I bring it back to room temperature for a couple of days, transfer it to the secondary, and then crash the temperature for four to six weeks to let it fully condition.

To expedite the process for the festival, I’ll transfer the lager to a keg after four weeks in the secondary and hope it’s fully fermented and ready to carbonate prior to the festival. After starting a lager brew, I decided to make a couple of ales for the festival.

Of course, I prefer the porters and wanted to reproduce my Pounding Mill version that took second place in the Abingdon competition. I also wanted to brew a Pale Ale and ESB (extra strong/special bitter) beers. I typically ferment my ales for a week in the primary and then two to three weeks in the secondary to clarify the beer. I began force carbonating in a keg to save a couple of weeks’ time over the bottle carbonation.

I’m extremely enthusiastic about the upcoming brew festival and invited a couple of my brew club partners from Virginia to attend and serve their beer. We’ll have several award-winning beers for you to sample, so please visit to obtain your tickets.

Ticket sales are limited to the first 500, so act quickly! It’s great to see our local resources come together with brewers from around the Tar Heel state to organize this potential signature event for Waynesville.

To reach Greg, email him at