Burning Man, Quenched

Unlike its namesake desert event, no effigies will be harmed at the Burning CAN Festival.

Unlike its namesake desert event, no effigies will be harmed at the Burning CAN Festival.

Beer festivals bring to mind lazy afternoons with a cold bottle and a lawn chair. Not true at Oskar Blues Brewery’s Burning CAN festival, where athletic activities go far beyond a stroll to the beer tent.

Burning CAN 2015 is a sly nod to Burning Man, the weeklong bacchanalia held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada each year. The festival grounds will certainly be greener in Hendersonville this summer.

Oskar Blues started the Burning Can ExtravaCANza four years ago at their original brewery in Lyons, Colorado. While there’s plenty of time to lounge around with a brew, the event — which made its debut in Brevard last summer — challenges beer drinkers to stretch their physical prowess as well.

This year, the weekend will feature a Beer Relay. Teams of two or more will take to the hills for as many laps around the 5k trail as they can stomach. Runners can knock two minutes off their time by drinking an Oskar Blues beer at the beginning of each lap.

“You can do it with a team, or you can do it solo if you’re feeling very brave,” explains Aaron Baker, who works with Oskar Blues on their marketing and events.

The 5k course meanders around waterfalls, up a ridge, and through bucolic farm pastures. “It’s a really beautiful course and I think people will really dig it,” says Baker.

He has some advice for competitors as they prepare for the epic journey. “Start training now and drink a beer after every run.”

Baker also suggests that beer drinkers re-embrace canned beer, which is enjoying a resurgence. The perception of canned beers is shifting as craft breweries look beyond the bottle.

“For beer geeks, [cans are] just better for the beer,” says Baker. “It’s a completely light-free environment in a can, and light is one of the things that destroys beer.”

Cans offer many benefits for the outdoorsy beer drinker, too. They’re lighter to hold while hiking or paddling, since they weigh less and crush down for easy carry out. Cans are also more environmentally friendly: easier to recycle than glass, and lighter to ship.

Aluminum will abound at Burning CAN 2015, which will feature beer from more than 50 craft breweries across the country, including Oskar Blues’ own brews. The festival also offers camping, live music, and a nationally acclaimed BMX dirt-jumping competition.

“Our hope is that people will bring their friends out and make a whole weekend of it.”

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