Thirsty Orange on tap for Saturday

Robert Houk • Apr 8, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Organizers say there will be more than 150 craft beers and ciders to sample Saturday at the eighth annual Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza in Johnson City’s Founders Park.

The ticketed festival will highlight beers from regional craft brewers and area homebrewers. Tickets can be purchased at thirstyorange.com.

“We have the largest homebrewer selection with over 100 different homebrews to try,” said Aaron Carson, executive director of Thirsty Orange. “These homebrewers make unique creations that are usually one of a kind.”

Among the professional brewers, Carson said Graffiti Garden will make its Thirsty Orange debut with a spicy ginger beer. Other new brewers this year include Jackalope Brewing, Blackberry Farm and Elkmont Brewing.

“Thirsty Orange supports local and Tennessee brewers, with 90 percent of all participating brewers within two hours of Johnson City,” Carson said.

Bad weather moved the event from the grounds of Founders Park to the Downtown Pavilion last year, but participants said rain and cold temperatures didn’t stop the crowds from enjoying the beer, food and music.

“Thirsty Orange itself is such a great festival as it brings craft brewers and homebrewers together in one place,” said John Henritze, owner of JRH Brewing Co. “It has really become like a family reunion for a lot of us in the brewing community.”

Henritze said that is why the festival is such a favorite with beer lovers.

“The weather has never been a factor because of that reason,” he said. “I would attend Thirsty Orange in a blizzard or 100-degree heat.”

Henritze said JRH will be releasing its award-winning Cosmic Charlie, a New England style IPA, at the festival, as well as featuring OG Amber, a beer it brews for Ole Guacamole in Johnson City.

Other area breweries participating in this year’s festival include Depot Street Brewing Co., Johnson City Brewing Co., Gypsy Circus Cider Co., Sleepy Owl Brewery and Studio Brew. Ballast Point Brewing Co. is the title sponsor of the event.

Carson said Ballast will bring an “amazing variety of small-batch, sours and their crowd favorites” to Saturday’s event.

Live music this year will include performances by Great Disaster and the headlining band, Love Unit. Southern Craft BBQ, Opies Pizza Wagon and Caribbean Grill will be the food providers at Thirsty Orange.

Tennessee Championship of Beers will also give out awards at the festival as part of the largest professional brewery competition in Tennessee, including the brewer of the year.