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The Whale Invitational: A Unique Beer Fest

A few weekends ago my wife and I attended a unique beer fest, The Whale Invitational. Below are some of the images from that Saturday afternoon. This is the inaugural year for The Whale Invitational. This well curated and fun group of 60+ breweries from across the globe were tasting fabulous that day. This fest included a lot of drinking and talking beer with brewers and beer nerds alike on a hot day in June. The high beer quality at the Whale Invitational is no surprise as The Whale AVL has spread its fins throughout the Southeast, buying many "whales,"or rare beers for many years. These sought after suds have been their business for five years now. The festival took place just outside of Biltmore Village where the nice people at Devil's Foot just opened their new venue, The Mule. There was ample space outside and the tents were crucial because of the direct sun and lack of clouds that day. It would have been nicer to be about ten degrees cooler but at least we were dry.

A nice bonus to The Whale Invitational is that it was not too jam packed with guests. It could be because this is the first iteration of this fest and/or the ticket price but the amount of elbow room even with the general ticket holders was quite easy to navigate. Why go to this fest you may ask? It's all about having a lot of exquisite beers from around the world all in one place. Breweries such as Jester King, Cantillon, Birds Fly South, Schilling, Halfway Crooks, Hop Butcher for the World just to name a few brought offerings that you would not be able to try in one place. Joining them were Asheville breweries like Burial, DSSOLVR, 12 Bones and opening soon, Terra Nova. There was more than enough beer, which was great since there were nearly no lines except from the tap bus which had the Belgian wild beers and took a bit of time to figure out the foamy beer pours. It didn't matter however.


Entertainment were a Beastie Boys cover band and a full on WWE style squared circle with live wrestling! Yes, I cannot make this up! There were multiple masked and unmasked wrestlers (actors) squaring off in the middle of this beer festival.This was a first for us at a beer festival and the show was fairly entertaining especially when the wrestling spilled into the tents where the beer was being poured. The wrestlers were always in character.

I was on a mission to drink wild ales and lagers since the temps were in the 80s for this festival. "It's a marathon not a sprint," is a real mantra for five hours of drinking. Also, staying hydrated and eating is also a good rule to live by at long beer festivals. Believe me I have tried other techniques and it does not end up well. I managed to pace myself quite well sticking to beers that were 6% or less most of the day. My Sunday was much better because of such wise decisions.

Killer glassware for VIPs at the Whale Invitational. Many styles were tried in these beauties but mostly lambic and lager.

Tommie Sjef Franc (middle bottle) was a beautiful oak aged, wild ale with Cabernet Franc grapes from The Netherlands. It was quite the "Whale"that I had never tried.

Ready set, WRASTLE! This is my first experience at a beer fest with live wrestling for the entertainment. It was quite hot so many guests were under the tents enjoying their choice of beer style. This is no joke!

One of the sensational stand out beers at The Whale Invitational was from Birds Fly South out of Greenville, SC. I absolutely loved this Cheap Jazz as it was refreshing, fruity and funky. I drank several of these beauties. Hey, it was hot out and peaches go really well with hot weather. Birds Fly South should know that better than anyone coming from South Carolina.


The sabering (yes, using a sword to open the bottle) of the Cantillon bottle may not have been perfect but my beer did not have any green glass in it. The Cantillon bottles and the draft of Neth, Belgian Lambic with Rhubarb, were a big hit with the beer nerds, like me, at The Whale Invitational.

Big Imperial Stouts from Incendiary and a few other breweries were available as well. These were not consumed by me nearly as much as they would have been at a winter beer fest.

We will be back next year! Thank you to The Whale and Devil's Foot for a great Saturday afternoon enjoying some of the best beers in the world.


Evan Rosenberg


Certified Cicerone®

Asheville, NC

828-677-2337 (BEER)

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