Other than the heat, which us North Carolinians have become quite used to, Friday night’s pig pickin’ at the beer, bourbon, and barbecue festival was a wonderful experience! Once you get into the festival area, you are greeted at the gate by live bluegrass music and pretty girls serving up cold beer, at which point you turn the corner and enter a world of all you can drink and eat. Not a bad way to end a long week in my book!
As for the event Friday night, I really enjoyed the quaint atmosphere. The venue was not overcrowded, yet you never felt alone while traveling from tent to tent. Beautiful bluegrass tunes echoed across the amphitheater while the myriad of barbecue smokers filled the air with flavors of sweet hickory. The true spirit of southern tradition came alive here in Cary, a place so often criticized for its noticeable population of transient yankees. Leave it to beer, bourbon, and barbecue to serve as the great equalizer!
I was quite impressed with the selection of bourbon and beer available for tasting at the festival. Buffalo Trace showed up with their top shelf: Blantons, Eagle Rare, and Buffalo Trace bourbon. Jim Beam and Heaven Hill also had a nice showing of top shelf delights to share with the attendees. From the beer perspective, the big producers were represented, but in no way overshadowed the local breweries. I was back for a refill of the Big Boss Blanco Diablo to enjoy with my barbecue, one of my favorite beers of the evening.
In addition to the great selection of beer and bourbon, there were a few other liquors and cocktails represented at the festival. The most memorable to me were the Patron XO Cafe, which is a very smooth tequila that is mellowed with coffee, and the St. Germains Liqueur, which is a French spirit that is derived from a rare flower. The St. Germains line was by far the longest at the festival, and it was packed with ladies. I can only assume that they were after the refreshing St Germaine Cocktail, which is a real gem! I had one and loved it!
Overall, the event was well planned and very comfortable. We are headed back out on Saturday, but expect it to be much more crowded and hot. My recommendation for anyone planning to go next year is to hit up the Friday night pig pickin’ and then make a game day call whether or not to go back on Saturday.