The Not-So-Big Beer Movement

Traditional music at the Tryon Beer Fest.

Traditional music at the Tryon Beer Fest.

Tryon has unique bragging rights in WNC. The steep southern-mountain town is the birthplace of Nina Simone, as well as the equestrian hotbed of the region. But it has a resident population of less than 1,700. Community leaders are well aware of the deluge of competing craft-beer festivities in WNC. So to offer something uniquely attractive, the organizers of the third annual Tryon Beer Fest intentionally went small.

For one thing, it happens November 8, the last call of the busy summer-and-fall beer-festival season. Its location at the Tryon Train Depot Plaza, just above downtown, provides spectacular views. And now there are oysters: Ticketholders can shuck and eat fresh bivalves, roasted Low Country-style over hot coals.

Chairperson Joe Pullara bills it as a “one-of-a-kind event.” In 2012, he reports, around 450 people came. Last year, 750 tickets were sold. This year, coordinators have decided to cap attendance at 1,000. Pullara and his crew didn’t want long lines at the taps potentially interfering with the official Tryon motto: “the friendliest town in the South.”

Regionally sourced beers are the obvious draw, plus local vendors offering “foodie” fine takes on Oktoberfest-type foods, including bratwurst, Bavarian pretzels, and sauerkraut. Early in the day, the Foothills Oompah Band will play, followed by the rock band 176. Accordion player Christopher Laughter will also perform, wandering through the crowd in traditional Bavarian attire. The event is fresh, small, and undeniably boutique. But any way you pour it, it’s still beer.

“I guarantee that anyone who comes to the festival will very soon be making new friends,” says Pullara.

The Fest Happens November 8. Proceeds benefit the Tryon Downtown Development Association and also support local boys’ and girls’ clubs. Visit

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