Friday evening, August 2nd I took on my first ever Beer Bourbon BBQ Festival at the Koko Booth Amphitheater in Cary. Last year I heard about the festival but missed out since tickets were sold out! When I saw the trifecta of all you can drink beer and bourbon combined with the top BBQ from around the South East, I knew that I wouldn’t miss out on one of the top events in Raleigh again! (For those of you who may not know, I LOVE pork.) After work on Friday I met up with my close friends and we headed out for a great start to the weekend!
Tip for next year: Get there early. My group of friends typically runs on the late side, so we arrived around 6:15 and had to wait in line for a solid 30 minutes. If you buy your ticket online from their website, you have to pick it up at will-call. And if you purchase it from groupon/travelzoo (got to keep an eye out for those next year also!) you can print out the ticket but still have to wait in a line. It was worth the wait, but I highly suggest arriving at the Beer Bourbon BBQ Festival no later than 5:30.
As soon as we walked in, I knew I was in for some fun. We started with a Mother Earth IPA but were then rapidly led over to the Woodford Reserve tent for some bourbon. The stuff is amazing – full bodied, easy even for a girl to sip on and enjoy, and oh so smooth- but it is still bourbon and still strong. After that sample, I knew it was time for me to eat.
The deal with dinner is everyone gets one ticket and you can select from multiple vendors which dinner plate you want. They were all pretty similar dinner plates – what differed was the sides and amount of pork. I had a Jerk Pork Biscuit with grit fritters, smoked grilled peaches, and baked beans from Black Sauce Kitchen from Baltimore, MD. TO DIE FOR. I suggest going with a few good friends willing to share plates so you can try a little bit of everything. Each was slightly different but equally delectable!
After dinner and the setting of the hot august sun, the festival really took on the embodiment of a lively Southern summer gathering of old friends. One of the BBQ chefs cooks an entire pig and they give it away for free as part of your ticket. People bring chairs and set up in circles all throughout the lawn between the dozen or so corn hole sets provided by the festival. Bands take turns playing old classics and beach tunes throughout the night while the festival-goers sing along and dance around.
For those who do not get thrilled at the prospect of drinking bourbon or beer all evening, have no fear – they have plenty of other alcoholic choices. My personal favorite drink of the evening was a bloody Mary made with Absolut’s new cilantro vodka! DELISH!
The festival typically comes to town for a whole weekend, giving you the option of attending on Friday evening, Saturday, or all weekend for those dedicated foodies. We purchased a 4 pack making tickets only $45 each with all fees – not bad at all for amazing dinner and all you can drink! Check the Koko Booth Calendar for the event date which is always typically early in August and don’t be hasty, tickets sell out each year for this beloved, summer fun Raleigh area event.