New beer festival to set sail in Washington

Published 5:20 pm Monday, January 13, 2020

The Washington Tourism Development Authority is inviting beer and wine lovers from Beaufort County and beyond to explore the world of hops, grapes and grain at a new festival this spring.

The newly christened Sails and Ales Festival will take over the Washington Civic Center from 4 to 7 p.m. April 18, and feature a wide variety of beers and wines native to North Carolina.

“It’s showcasing eastern North Carolina breweries and showing the Washington community what brewing culture looks like and why we should have it here,” said Gabrielle Whitlock, the WTDA’s marketing and special events coordinator. “We want to get people excited about it through this festival in the hopes of recruiting a brewery to come to town.”

As with all events hosted by WTDA, Whitlock says one of the goals of the festival is to bring visitors into Washington, all while providing a fun activity for locals. With a lineup of eight breweries committed to participating so far, the hope is to draw in crowds from their hometowns.

“We’re putting it up on Facebook and sending a press release out to communities with the breweries,” Whitlock said.

Participating breweries include Pitt Street Brewing Company (Greenville), Billy Beer (Walstonburg), Duck Rabbit (Farmville), Brutopia (New Bern), R&R Brewing (Mount Olive), Quick Trigger Brewing Company (Ahoskie), Local Oak Brewing Company (Winterville), and Tarboro Brewing Company (Tarboro). For the breweries, it’s an opportunity to tap into a new market.

Adding to a pleasing lineup for beer enthusiasts, wine lovers won’t be left out. Mary Mehlich, from Washington’s Wine & Words & Gourmet, will offer wine tastings and share her extensive knowledge on the subject. Whitlock says she hopes to also get local restaurants involved to provide catering setups to sell plates and samples during the event.

Headlining the event’s entertainment, Psylo Joe of Greenville will play a unique mix of funk, rock, blues, acid jazz and traditional music, all performed with a signature improvisational style.

After being carded at the door, admission is free to the festival, with drink tokens costing $5 each and sample tickets available for $1.

“It’s our first year, so hopefully we get a good response from the community that can speak outwardly and next year we’ll see even more out of town guests,” Whitlock said. “We’re trying to give people something to do so they can be our advocates as to why people should come to Washington.”

Sails and Ales will be hosted as a joint effort between the WTDA and the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce.