moot headwatersFolkmoot is a Western North Carolina tradition, and this year, the festival is tapping into the growing craft beer industry that has become a thriving part of the WNC cuisine scene.


In celebration of Folkmoot’s 30th year, BearWaters Brewing Company in Waynesville is releasing a special brew in honor of the festival. 

“We were approached by some of the Folkmoot board members regarding crafting a beer that would capture the spirit of the festival,” said Kevin Sandefur, owner/co-brewer of BearWaters. “I was very excited about the challenge of creating a recipe that would reflect the international makeup of the dance troops.”

Dubbed “Folk Malt,” the concoction is a traditional Munich-style lager with added hops from the United States, Czech Republic and Germany, with lager yeast used from Patagonia. 

“To finish it all off, we gave the beer a kiss of mango,” Sandefur said. “The end result is a perfectly balanced, refreshing summer style beer that has a sunset, glowing color.”

Folk Malt will be available at BearWaters’ taproom located at 130 Frazier Street, Suite 7, and at various restaurants and pubs around Western North Carolina when Folkmoot starts in mid-July.

Coming into its second year of operation, BearWaters began as an idea and business plan for Sandefur, one that ultimately won him an entrepreneur grant from the Haywood Chamber of Commerce. Since then, the brewery opened and has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, from participating in the Great American Beer Festival to winning 11 medals at the Carolina Championship of Beer. 

“We are extremely passionate about crafting quality beers. Our creativity drives our vision. We now have over 26 different recipes on our books and that continues to grow,” Sandefur said.

By creating a community bond with his brews, Sandefur sees the same sentiments and pure intent with the philosophy of Folkmoot. It’s about embracing you local roots, with arms outstretched and welcoming the world.

“Tradition, tradition, tradition, it’s such an important piece of community, and we can’t lose sight of that,” he said. “Folkmoot is an amazing event that allows people from around the globe to connect right here in our town, with no focus on political or socioeconomic boundaries — it’s humanity connecting through a celebration of dance and music.”

Reflecting on his own experiences at Folkmoot, Sandefur enjoys the innumerable opportunities the festival offers for locals, tourists and the curious alike.

“When my son was 7 years old, we took him to see a performance,” he said. “After the show, he got to interact with some Russian dancers. He purchased a traditional Russian toy, which helped me see the world for a minute through the eyes of a child.”

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