Brewgaloo N.C. Craft Beer Festival 2019

Block Party Tasting Event | Friday, April 26, 6–10 p.m. (Tickets: $35-$45)

Street Festival | Saturday, April 27, 2–10 p.m. (Tickets: $30, free for designated drivers) 

Downtown Raleigh,

Earlier this month, USA Today declared Raleigh’s annual Brewgaloo—North Carolina’s largest beer festival, taking place this weekend—the best suds fest in the country. Now entering its eighth year, Brewgaloo is undoubtedly a massive event: thirty-five thousand people partaking in goods from 115 North Carolina breweries, local food trucks, local music, and local vendors, stretching from City Plaza to the Capitol. 

But the best? In the country? 

Then again, who are we to argue with the tastemakers at USA Today, especially when they’re hyping a local event that does a lot of good. Brewgaloo, after all, is a unicorn amid festival capitalism: Most of its proceeds go to Shop Local Raleigh, a nonprofit that, as the name suggests, encourages Raleigh residents to shop locally. (This year, the festival has partnered with Designed for Joy, which provides transitional work for women who’ve endured trafficking, homelessness, incarceration, or addiction.)

The INDY spoke with Shop Local Raleigh executive director Jennifer Martin about how her fest hit the big time. 

INDY: What is it about a beer festival that is so appealing, compared to day drinking at a bar?

MARTIN: I think we create a sense of FOMO with Brewgaloo—you’re not just sitting and drinking, you’re standing up, congregating, meeting people you would have never met before, or running into someone from high school, and connecting with fellow like-minded people over beer. It gets people out: You’re not on your phone, you’re not at your computer, and you’re not just sitting inside. You have the ability to move around and walk around all day long.

How do you keep people from, well, enjoying themselves too much?  

On Friday, we do a three-ounce pour. On Saturday, you can choose between a three-ounce pour or a pint size. We also use a ticket system. You can purchase up to a certain number of tickets, and then each ticket has to be redeemed at a specific vendor. If, at some point, we find that a patron needs to no longer be at the festival, then we will put them in a cab or have a friend take them home. And we don’t allow beers that are over 8 percent ABV to be on tap.  

What are you doing differently this year?

We’ve added a local spiked seltzer. We’ve also added an acapella group and are donating to their respective schools. We’re also working with Barbox [a mobile bartending service] and will have a trailer set up with a beer garden and food. The Carolina Hurricanes will be there with cornhole and other fun games for people to play. And at night, the Alamo Drafthouse is bringing out a dance party setup. 

What advice would you give a first-timer?

If you’re not familiar with downtown, look at a map and familiarize yourself with parking decks. Also, plan for a DD or ensure you’ve got a safe ride home. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.

And stay hydrated, right?

Yes! We have giant water towers that are equivalent to one thousand bottles of water each, which replaces that footprint. We supply a recyclable and reusable cup to be more green in what we’re doing, and we’ve also asked the food trucks and vendors to consider green options. We really try to reduce our footprint of trash. 

Contact food and digital editor Andrea Rice by email at, by phone at 919-832-8774, or on Twitter @AndreaLRice.