When Brewgaloo launched in 2011, the craft beer festival was the new kid on the block. Craft beer was young then, too; you couldn’t find it on shelves and in restaurants and bars like you can now, and festivals were often one of the only marketing tools breweries had to promote themselves. The challenge the breweries faced, though, was that most festivals expected them to donate their beer.

Jennifer Martin sought to change that. As the executive director of Shop Local Raleigh, Martin’s mission is to highlight local businesses and connect consumers to those places so that they think, eat, and drink local first. Martin applied that same thinking to be an advocate for local breweries, not only helping to create Brewgaloo, a craft beer festival highlighting local breweries, but by paying for all beer tapped at the event so that the breweries make the profit, not the festival organizers.

“We pay for one hundred percent of the beer; you don’t have to bring a minimum, and there’s no maximum,” Martin says. “If your brewery is really popular and you go through twelve kegs, we’re going to pay for all twelve. And so [doing] that was highly unheard of.”

Brewgaloo’s first year started off with only Triangle-brewed beers and forty-five hundred attendees; since then, more than one hundred N.C. breweries participate (only N.C. breweries are eligible) and the number of attendees has grown to thirty thousand. Brewgaloo still pays for all the beer, to the tune of $140,000. The groundbreaking approach has helped to change the beer-festival model, giving breweries more negotiating power in terms of which festivals they want to participate in.

Though Martin helped break the mold, she’s also helping to break down barriers for women in craft beer. Martin says that, in the beginning, she received comments from people in the industry who criticized her for not knowing what she was doing, just because she didn’t have a background in beer. And while she’s the first to admit that she’d never tapped a keg before launching Brewgaloo, Martin does have a solid background in event marketing, coupled with business savvy gleaned from her Shop Local Raleigh experience and a tenacious spirit. After the festival’s first year, Martin says she took time to visit local breweries, connect with them, and try their products.

“Sometimes there’s a stigma that women drink wine, men drink beer,” she says. “I think that [Brewgaloo] has helped to totally change that. It’s not just men out there drinking craft beer. Women are very into craft beer.”

And it’s not just men brewing craft beer, either. The number of women brewers is growing in the state, too, Martin adds. Three women-owned breweries have been part of the festival since each opened, including Double Barley Brewing in Smithfield, Bombshell Beer Company in Holly Springs, and Raleigh Brewing, owned by Kristie Nystedt, who was also the first female owner of a North Carolina craft brewery.

Now in its seventh year, Brewgaloo is the largest craft beer festival in the state, the second largest craft beer festival in the country, and the largest women-directed festival. (Martin counts three other women on her team, including two full-time and one part-time employee who work on the event. But Martin is also quick to shout-out the board of directors, countless volunteers, sponsors, and the support of the breweries who have made Brewgaloo what it is today.)

Another moment of validation arrived when Asheboro’s Four Saints Brewing emailed Brewgaloo to ask if it could debut N.C.’s first carbon-neutrally brewed beer at the event. It’s the first time the beer will be available to the public; to reduce its carbon footprint, Four Saints teamed up with Urban Offsets, which calculated the carbon emissions linked with making the Founding Fathers Hemp Ale, including purchasing and transporting ingredients, brewing the beer, and tapping the kegs at the festival. The carbon offsetting fees will help fund local urban-forestry projects, such as planting trees at Cone Health Cancer Center’s Healing Garden in Greensboro.

Brewgaloo 2018 runs April 27–28; Friday’s block party will be held from six p.m. to ten p.m. at Raleigh’s City Plaza and will showcase thirty-five breweries. (Tickets cost $45 in advance or $50 on-site and buy you a cup and a wristband.) Saturday’s open-street festival will be held from two p.m. to ten p.m. on Fayetteville Street and will feature 116 N.C. breweries, along with 50 food trucks, live music, and dozens of vendors and sponsors. It doesn’t cost anything to attend Saturday’s festivities, but you’ll need to purchase drink tickets to sample beers. Advance tickets are $30 for a bundle of twenty-five tickets; two tickets buys you a taste and five tickets buys you a pint. If you purchase tickets at the door, bundles of five tickets cost $7 and can be bought in any increment.

And who knows, you just might see Martin tapping a keg.