I love the time in the beer year when breweries start releasing robust and spicy brews that go really well with long dark snuggly nights and hearty roast meats and potatoes. (If you don’t believe me, have yourself an Imperial Stout with a pile of mashed ‘taters and gravy. You’re welcome).
While I imbibe rich porters, strong ales and silky stouts year-round, the plethora of these types of beers at this time of year warms my belly. Here are a few to look for in the coming weeks.
Yes, the beer moment many of you have been waiting for approaches — Cold Mountain Winter Ale will be released in Highland Brewing’s taproom on Thursday, Nov. 15, starting at 4 p.m. It will be on sale elsewhere on tap, in 12-ounce and 22-ounce bottles and in cobalt blue one-liters. Look for the bottles at specialty stores and your local grocery. The ale’s spices change slightly each year, but, as always, there’s a cone of silence around which spices are used and in which quantities. Use your noses and your taste buds, and let me know what you think about this year’s Cold Mountain.
Pisgah Brewing will release Benton’s Bacon Snout in the taproom and to a few restaurants around town on Nov. 11. This is Pisgah’s third year of brewing a bacon stout, and this year, the beer was created especially for Blind Pig of Asheville’s Preserve Dinner, which celebrates Southern Appalachian cuisine.
In that spirit, Pisgah procured Benton’s Hickory Smoked Country Bacon from Madisonville, Tenn., sorghum molasses from Asheville’s Coates Farm & Produce, and local Riverbend Malthouse artisan malt for the beer. Pisgah also will release Chocolate Stout, conditioned on French Broad Chocolate Lounge’s cacao nibs, soon after the Snout is out.
French Broad Brewing will release a Barleywine, rolling it out in the taproom on Dec. 21. This limited release will be available on draft to a few accounts in January, but not bottled. Barleywine is a style of strong ale originating in England. This one will be warm and slightly malty with United Kingdom-style hopping, says French Broad manager and co-owner Andy Dahm.
Thirsty Monk Brewery will also be releasing a Chocolate Stout in November, as well as their winning choice from the Just Brew It Homebrew Festival — Jacob Childrey’s Maple Pecan Belgian Porter. That’s one I’ll want to put in my mashed potatoes, thank you very much. The Monk will also offer up a Belgian Pumpkin Ale.
Wedge Brewing will release Third Rail, a 10 percent barleywine on Nov. 9 in the taproom. Dec. 7 will see the release of the much-anticipated Raspberry Imperial Stout, a dark and sweet concoction that comes in around 9 percent ABV.
Brevard Brewing in Brevard recently released a Smoked Porter, brewed with seven different malt varieties, but most notably a Bamberg-style Rauchmalz (smoked malt). “Rauchmalz is kilned just like any other kind of brewer's malt, except that the kiln is packed with beech wood. The smoke carries into the malt, and later into the finished beer, producing a unique libation that quite literally smells like a campfire,” says Brevard brewer Kyle Williams.
Sierra Nevada Beer Campers tour 14 WNC breweries in three days
In thanks to Sierra Nevada Brewing for sending 35 Asheville Brewers Alliance brewers to Beer Camp in Chico, Calif., last summer, the ABA organized a three-day bus tour of 14 WNC breweries over the last weekend in October. The bus carried a mix of beer industry folks from both local breweries and our soon-to-be local Sierra Nevada Brewing. The two beers that the Beer Campers created in California were released at the breweries to the general public that same weekend. The beers, Carolina Dreamin,’ a wheat wine ale, and Headliner, a black IPA, may still be available around town. Proceeds from the sales of the beers will benefit local charities, including The Community Table in Sylva. Beware the nine percent Carolina Dreamin.’
Buy your tickets for Winter Warmer Beer Festival
Tickets for the 2013 Winter Warmer Beer Festival are on sale now. This year’s fest will be held Saturday, Jan. 26, from 3 to 7 p.m. on the arena level of the U.S. Cellular Center downtown. The previous two years, the fest took place on the lower level of that building, but moving up will offer a bit more space, which means a few more breweries and, I hope, less beer jostling.
This party has sold out beforehand the past five years, so buy your tickets now at ashevillebeerfest.com. Cost is $40 per person, and $60 for a VID (Very Important Drinker). Proceeds will benefit Western North Carolina Alliance, a grassroots organization that works to preserve local public lands and waterways.
The house that beer built is done
On Tuesday, Nov. 13, four new Habitat for Humanity houses will be handed over to their new owners, including the home that was partially built and funded by the Asheville Brewers Alliance. The ABA donated $10,000 to the project and the breweries each sponsored volunteer build days. The homes are all located in Habitat’s Carney Place neighborhood, on Virginia Avenue in West Asheville. The ceremony will begin at 5:15 p.m.