Beer Destination, USA
Asheville recently garnered even more beer-related accolades, on top of the online Beer City-poll win and the big breweries opening facilities in the area. It’s almost a given that we’re a not-to-be-missed beer destination at this point.
Lonely Planet travel guide recently picked Asheville as one of the top five beer cities in the U.S., writing, “Situated among the lush, rolling peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville is a laid-back town where outdoor lovers and beer aficionados soak up the offerings.”
The Travel Channel listed the city in its “Top Seven Beer Destinations,” saying, “They don’t call Asheville Beer City, USA for the heck of it.” Both outlets mention Highland Brewing and the Thirsty Monk pub, as well as several other local breweries and beer events.
Drinking Made Easy’s Zane Lamprey picked Asheville as the sixth-best beer city of the top 25 beer cities in the world. Yes, the world. The list includes Munich, Germany (No. 1); Prague, Czech Republic (No. 5); and Vilnius, Lithuania (No. 21). As you can see, Lamprey travels the world drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages for his television show.
Lamprey writes, “Asheville may only be the 11th-largest city in North Carolina, but they are making more of an impact in the world of beer than most of the largest cities in the country. With 84,000 people, this city in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains has one of the highest brewery per capita ratios in the world. With New Belgium (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Sierra Nevada (Chico, Calif.) expanding operations to Asheville in the coming years, this beer city will only be getting bigger.”
And then, Craftcans.com, a website dedicated to news and reviews for the “Canned Beer Revolution,” chose Asheville’s Bar of Soap as No. 5 of the “Fifteen Most Cantastic Places to Grab A Can Craft Beer in America.” The author writes, “ It seems only fitting that one of America’s top beer cities should possess a laundromat that also just so happens to have a pretty amazing craft beer selection. Asheville, North Carolina’s Bar of Soap is one-part laundromat, one-part used bookstore and all kick-ass beer bar. It features a serious canned craft beer selection with over 25 different craft cans available.”
Green Man Brewing expands some more
We reported several weeks ago that Asheville’s second oldest brewery, Green Man Brewing, is expanding into the building next door to its current brewery and taproom. Now owner Dennis Thies has closed on the lot and building next door to that, running all the way from Green Man to Lexington Avenue. The brewery will add storage space to keep the fresh beer that will be brewed in their new 30-barrel brew house. At some point, a packaging line, likely for 12-ounce bottles, will be added as well. The little brewery that was born in the back of Jack of the Wood brewpub has seen some exciting changes since Thies purchased it in 2010. Currently, Highland Brewing is the only Asheville brewery that packages and distributed its beers in 12-ounce bottles.
J.T.‘s Oatmeal Stout has a tragic story
JT’s Oatmeal Stout, brewed just once a year, is currently on tap at both Asheville Brewing Company locations. This delicious beer has a tragic backstory. Before he was an owner of Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company, Mike Rangel was hired to as a restaurant consultant for the Brew ‘n’ View, which after only several months in business was losing cash quickly. The first day Rangel consulted with the restaurant, he spent a good part of the day hanging out with a bartender named Jason Taylor, who was much loved by staff and customers. Rangel stayed up late that night with a group of Brew ‘n’ View employees, including the guy they all called J.T. The next morning, Rangel showed up, bleary-eyed, to continue working with the failing business. He found shocked staff wandering aimlessly around the restaurant. After the previous night’s festivities, J.T. had gone home, and handling a gun, had accidentally shot himself to death. The oatmeal stout was thereafter named in his memory and is brewed annually by head brewer Doug Riley, who was the brewer at the time and friends with J.T. (This story is partially excerpted from my forthcoming book, Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing, to be published by The History Press this Fall).
Try some new beers at The LAB
While the LAB hasn’t yet hired a new head brewer, Chris Whitted has taken the helm since Ben Pierson left a few months ago, and changed up all the beers. Whitted was assistant brewer under Pierson. On tap at present are an IPA, a raspberry porter, a kolsch and a farmhouse ale. The IPA and porter are both excellent. Also, coming soon, Whitted plans to brew up a bacon-flavored imperial stout using pig parts from Asheville’s Chop Shop Butchery.
N.C. Brewers Cup at State Fair
Entries for the first ever North Carolina Brewers’ Cup must be received by Sept. 7. So if you want to enter a brew, you better get on it. This is the first year that the North Carolina State Fair will feature a North Carolina beer competition. Both professional and amateur brewers can submit beers to be judged by a panel of beer professional at the state fair in Raleigh, which will run Oct. 11-21. An eight- to twelve-member panel of judges from several states will judge the beers. All entries will be judged blind, based on the category and subcategory. Ribbons and cash prizes will be awarded to both commercial beer and home-brewer winners, for first, second and third places ($10, $7, $5 respectively). For information about entry forms, fees and more, visit http://www.ncbrewerscup.org or contact Richard Mitchell at 202-251-9934. For more information about the N.C. State Fair, visit http://www.ncstatefair.org.
Jack and Oskar
On Tuesday, August 21, Jack of the Wood at 95 Patton Ave. will host a night with Oskar Blues benefitting Pisgah area Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. Several Oskar Blues beers will be on tap, including a firkin of mango habanero Dale’s Pale Ale. The mountain bike-loving OB brews will be tapped at 6 p.m. Asheville on Bikes will host a bike corral nearby. Craft beer and bicycles — a winning combination.
New Belgium’s Asheville Brewery
For regular updates on the design and construction of New Belgium Brewing’s Asheville Brewery, check out http://newbelgium.com/ashevillebrewery. If you have questions or concerns, email the brewery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of WNC
It’s again time to vote for your favorite brewery in Mountain Xpress’ annual Best of WNC poll. Last year’s brewery winner was Pisgah Brewing, which edged out Wedge Brewing, which had taken the crown from Highland a couple years before that. There are a couple of other beer-related categories. Go vote, because beer makes you look pretty.