This article was published in The Appalachian.

This weekend, the lawn outside the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center will fill up with people, music and food – and, of course, plenty of brews.

The fourth annual High Country Beer Fest will take place Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. The event will feature samples of craft beer from a growing list of breweries, food from local restaurants, performances by three local bands and a full day of beer-related seminars.

Beer Fest is not all fun and games, though – for founder Brett F. Taubman, it is also about awareness.“There are so many breweries out there and so many different styles and so many different, good beers out there that it would be a shame to limit your palate to the three or so big labels that are out there. We want to show people how good beer today can be,” said Taubman, who teaches in the chemistry department and heads up Appalachian State University’s Ivory Tower Brewery.

Shea R. Tuberty, another founder of the event, said the educational component of High Country Beer Fest separates it from other beer festivals in the country.

“One of our mottos is actually ‘education, not intoxication.’ Everybody gets intoxicated too, but we teach them along the way,” Tuberty said.

To that end, Beer Fest 2011 will feature six educational seminars.

Attendees can learn about home brew at 3:30 p.m., hops in North Carolina at 4:30 p.m. or attend a professional brewer panel at 5:30 p.m.

Food-based seminars include cheese and cured meat pairing, pizza and beer pairing, and beer and dessert pairing. Food seminars are offered at 3:30 and 5:00 p.m.

Along with seminars – and food and beer tastings – the festival also features local music. This year, The Switch, The Henhouse Thieves and Swift Science are set to perform.

J.D. Rust, a senior biology major at Appalachian, plays lead guitar and vocals for Swift Science.

Rust said he thinks the crowd will enjoy his band’s set, especially “if they like to groove.”

“I…have a bit of a reputation for getting really into the music,” he said, “which usually leads to a few stage antics.”

In addition to the day-of events, Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants will offer a week of tastings and ticket giveaways leading up to the event.

The tastings will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. each night from Monday to Friday. Each night will feature special selections from a different brewery whose beers will also be available at Beer Fest. Featured breweries include Foothills Brewery, Old Hickory Brewery, Blue Point Brewery, Catawba Valley Brewing and Sierra Nevada.

Those who attend the tastings will have the opportunity to put their name in a hat, in order to win a free ticket to Saturday’s Beer Fest, Peabody’s beer manager Chris Riley said.

Beer Fest tickets are $30 for general admission or $10 for designated drivers, and are available at hcbeerfest.com/tickets. Tickets generally sell out before the day of the festival, Tuberty said.

Taubman said every effort is made to avoid alcohol-related incidents the day of the festival.

Designated drivers are offered discounted tickets, the Tipsy Taxi service offers free rides, Bill’s Towing offers free towing and carpooling is strongly encouraged, Tuberty said.

“Do not drive there unless you absolutely have to,” Taubman said. “If you do, make sure you have an exit strategy.”

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