[image-1]When Wicked Weed sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev earlier this month, the independent beer community lost more than one of its favorite breweries, it also meant the demise of a premier beer festival in the Carolinas.
The Funkatorium Invitational, formerly called Funk Asheville, is a yearly event hosted by Wicked Weed where breweries and beer lovers from across the country gather to celebrate and enjoy wild and sour ales. But this year, after the intense backlash following the Asheville-based brewery’s sale to InBev, the July 8 festival was cancelled. As breweries that had committed to the event quickly pulled out, Wicked Weed was finally forced to announce on May 8 that the Invitational couldn’t go on, and would instead “evolve” into a different kind of festival to be held in August.
Now, Wicked Weed’s loss has become South Carolina’s gain. Charleston’s Revelry Brewing and Greenville’s Birds Fly South Ale Project have stepped in to fill the funk festival void.
The breweries announced The Funk Collective this week, a sour beer festival in Greenville that will be held on the same July 8 Saturday that Wicked Weed’s was originally planned. The festival will rotate between Birds Fly South and Revelry each year. So in 2018, it will be in Charleston.
“When the Wicked Weed Invitational fell apart, a lot of people were bummed that an awesome event had essentially dissolved,” Revelry’s Ryan Coker says. “We simply decided to make lemons out of lemonade and provide a venue an hour away from Asheville to hold a sour/wild event on the same weekend as the now defunct Invitational.”
[content-1] The planning was made easier for Revelry and Birds Fly South because many of the breweries from around the country already had plans in place to be in the area that weekend. Coker also says their friendships with many of the breweries that pulled out of the Wicked Weed event helped make The Funk Collective happen.
“Now we have a clearly defined sour/wild event in South Carolina, which is something we’ve always wanted to see.”
Hosting the festival in South Carolina will also give the state’s breweries a chance to introduce themselves to brewers from across the nation. On the night before this year’s Funk Collective, Coker says there will be a brewers gathering that will show the visiting brewers the outstanding beer being made in the state that doesn’t necessarily fall into the sour or wild category.
When Revelry hosts the festival next year, they have will have an event on Friday night featuring just coastal South Carolina breweries, regardless of what types of beer they produce.
The exact specifics of this year’s festival are still being finalized and will be made public soon. There will be two pricing tiers — general admission and VIP — and about 25-30 breweries will be participating, many of which were originally slated for Wicked Weed’s event.
What Coker does know is that the format will be slightly different than most beer festivals. Instead of rows of booths with each brewery having all the beers they’ve brought tapped at the same time, it will be more of a “bottle share format.” Brewers will only tap one of their beers at a time to share with attendees and won’t move onto their next beer until that one is finished.
“We hope this will reduce brand poaching and require that brewers drink through what is being poured to get to the next amazing brew,” Coker says. “All of the taps will be pouring and a few stations will be popping bottles all day to encourage flow throughout the space.”
The beneficiary of all this, aside from sour beer lovers, is Eblen Charities, the same Asheville-based organization that was going to receive proceeds from the Funkatorium Invitational. It was important to Coker to still support this charity despite Wicked Weed’s event being cancelled. To him, it’s one more reason why The Funk Collective is a positive for everyone.
“We get to hold a sour/wild beer festival in South Carolina, fans get their funk fix, money is raised for a cause, and South Carolina breweries have an option to participate whether or not they produce sour/funky beer,” Coker says.
“It’s a win, win, win, win.”