The idea was simple: Sample craft beer and try a couple crafts in the studios and rooms where art is made. Sawtooth — known for its adult art classes for those who want to sharpen their skills or learn a new craft for the first time — used the beer-themed event on April 28 as an open house of sorts.
When my husband and I arrived at the Milton Rhodes Arts Center that night, soft, acoustic guitar music wafted down the hallway, and we quickly felt relaxed in a place we’d never been before.
People roamed the halls or gathered in groups in studio classrooms, giving the event a casual vibe. Outside each room, placards designated the space’s usual purpose as well as the craft beer being poured that night.
In a painting room, someone from Stella Brew bottleshop was pouring a Belgian quadrupel that made a great first drink of the night, with its high gravity and aromatic punch. They also poured a couple of cans from Appalachian Mountain Brewing and Ponysaurus, as well as two ciders and an oak-aged sour.
We wandered to the metalsmithing room, where two instructors showed participants how to hammer out bottle caps and make them into earrings (also known as “beerings”) for free. After much searching through the bottle cap inventory, I chose one from Natty Greene’s and another from Sierra Nevada.
I joined two other event-goers at the table to hammer out the caps. We had three options to shape them: regular, flattened completely or domed like shallow bowls.
I liked the regular bottlecap shape, so one of the instructors showed me how to hold a short metal stick in one hand and hit a small mallet against it with the other, a simple motion that ironed out the distortions made from bottle openers.
At another table, Sara Sloan Stine, lead metalsmith instructor at Sawtooth, completed the craft by punching holes in the metal and threading Shepherd’s hooks through them, so they become dangling earrings I wore immediately. I would’ve preferred if this had been more hands-on, but in the absence of waiver forms, I can understand the need to punch holes for people who have been drinking.
In the printmaking room, participants paid $5 to screen-print their own tote bags using red-orange paint, but having arrived late, we used our remaining time to circulate among the other breweries. Foothills, Four Saints and Hoots represented the Triad; outsiders included Wicked Weed and Burial Beer of Asheville, Devils Backbone of Roseland, Va. and Birdsong Brewing of Charlotte. Birdsong, a brewery that’s new to us, poured a fantastic jalapeño pale ale, which smelled and tasted of fresh peppers without a lot of spice.
Apparently a couple of breweries left before we arrived within the last hour of the event, and many packed up before the event end time. That’s why next year we’ll give ourselves plenty of time to try all of the beer and crafts, as the healthy crowd on April 28 seemed to do.