Charlotte’s fast growing economy and unique blend of cultures make it one of the top destinations for travel in the Southeast. The city's ever expanding list of fun things to do ranges from watching NASCAR races at Charlotte Motor Speedway to seeing some of the city's top art at the Mint Museum Uptown.
The Queen City Brewers Festival is the primary annual fundraiser for ACEing Autism Charlotte. The festival gathers Charlotte’s top brewers, craft beer-friendly restaurants, brewpubs, and beer enthusiasts into one location to support families affected by autism spectrum disorders. The festival has two different tasting sessions at famous Fillmore Charlotte in downtown. There will be at least 30 different breweries represented, offering a variety of different beers to sample. Participating brewpubs and restaurants will also be offering some delicious food samples. Patrons will get to enjoy live music and games as they socialize with the crowd, taste beers, and help raise money for a great cause. We got the chance to interview ACEing Autism Charlotte’s Program Director, Nils Weldy, to talk about this beer festival for a great cause.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
NW: The Queen City Brewers Festival premiered in 2012 and returns for its sixth year on February 4, 2017.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
NW: The event attracts roughly 1,000 attendees at each of the two tasting sessions: 1:00-4:00 pm and 6:00-9:00 pm.
RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event? Children? Families? Couples?
NW: The event attracts couples who range in age from 25 to retirement age. We have also seen more groups of friends attend the event.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
NW: The event’s theme spotlights breweries, brewpubs, and craft beer-focused restaurants exclusive to a 30-minute radius from Uptown Charlotte. More than 30 breweries from the Charlotte-area come together at QCBF each year, giving attendees the chance to experience Charlotte's great craft beers.
RAL: Tell me about the activities.
NW: Unlimited beer and food tasting come with admission to the session. Artists will be on hand displaying their works. New in 2017 will be a true-to-scale mini tennis court where attendees can play games for the chance to win prizes. Our focus is raising awareness, funds, and volunteer opportunities for event host, ACEing Autism-Charlotte.
RAL: What dining options will people encounter?
NW: Roughly ten tasting stations will offer select items and bites from their menu. Stations include a full-service raw bar from Sea Level NC, half hot dogs from JJ’s red hots, Latin street food from Sabor Latin Street Grill, mouth-watering chili samples from Queen City Beer & Chili, and hand-crafted sliders from Moo & Brew to name a few.
RAL: What is the environment like?
NW: It's an intimate environment with an incredible vibe from one of Charlotte’s premier music venues, The Fillmore.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?
NW: Yes, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Charlotte Uptown is the official hotel partner of the Queen City Brewers Festival. The hotel's restaurant, Q Tavern, has popular tasting stations set up and will be serving generous samples of pulled pork.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
NW: Each year QCBF brings the Queen City’s brewers, owners, and staff together to celebrate our city’s thriving beer scene. The event serves as a meaningful platform to appreciate those who have volunteered at previous ACEing Autism-Charlotte sessions. It's the ideal location to steward relationships with individual donors who contribute funds to the ACEing Autism-Charlotte scholarship fund and to raise awareness to expand programming to North Charlotte and greater North Carolina.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
NW: Yes, 93% of attendees state that they visit a restaurant before or after their tasting session.
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?
NW: ACEing Autism-Charlotte was launched in the spring of 2014 and serves families in the Charlotte community affected by autism. Six separate week-long programs take place in the spring and fall with other special events held throughout the year. We are a volunteer-driven organization that aims to provide effective sports-related intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
NW: The Charlotte-area is home to more than 30 craft breweries and many of them are gaining national recognition.This is your chance to experience Charlotte’s brewing culture, food, music, local art, and games all while benefiting an organization that improves the lives of children and families in the community.
For more information about the Queen City Brewers Festival, please visit their website.
Photo Credit: Eric Gaddy