A total of 26 breweries participated in the event, including six new additions. That’s up from just eight breweries when the festival debuted in 2012.

“As they grow, we’ll grow,” says Nils Weldy, QCBF creator. “This is a chance to try all of these breweries under one roof.”

He’s also Charlotte program director for ACEing Autism.

The festival serves as the winter fundraiser for that nonprofit, which aims to make tennis available to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Red Clay Ciderworks in South End was among the newcomers to the festival.

Owner Chris Bayne was pouring samples of Bayne Brewing’s maple wheat and vanilla, oatmeal raising porter. He and brother Sean have operated that Cornelius nanobrewery for a little over a year.

Bayne’s beers received a warm reception, and Chris Bayne fielded numerous questions about the brewery.

“This is a good opportunity for me because this is an area I don’t distribute in a lot,” he says.

Saturday was the first festival, too, for Three Spirits Brewery, which opened in November. The brewery has a growing fan base, but participating raises awareness, says owner Tabu Terrell.

“People still don’t know we’re open. It’s just having them know we’re out there,” he says.

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