Brews News: Cold Mountain, Craggie news and Asheville’s lady brewer

Cold Mountain Winter Ale released this week

The brew that many of us anticipate all year is finally here: Highland Brewing’s Cold Mountain Winter Ale. This malty, lightly hopped, spiced seasonal ale comes out on draught and in kegs this week throughout WNC. The beer’s spices vary from year to year. My preview taste of the 2010 brew started with a strong vanilla aroma and flavor, followed by a bite of cinnamon and a little fruit, and a drier finish than some Cold Mountain ales of the past. It’s delicious.

Likely by next week, Cold Mountain will be available in one-liter bottles, 22-ouncers and 12-packs at regional grocery and specialty stores. Here’s a video preview with more info about the nectar being bottled:

When Highland's production capacity was much smaller, cases of Cold Mountain were highly sought-after, often reserved weeks in advance. Now Highland crafts enough of this delicious beer so that everyone can buy and enjoy it well into the holiday season (don’t hoard, people). The slightly sweet Cold Mountain pairs well with savory fare, such as turkey, ham and even tofurky.

The official release party for the brew at Highland’s swanky new tasting room will take place on Friday, Nov. 12, from 4 to 8 p.m. Asheville rockers Now You See Them will provide the music.

Erica Nelson: Highland Brewing’s lady brewer

She isn’t the first female brewer to wield a paddle at Highland, but she’s currently the only professional female in town to hold a Master Brewer degree.

Erica Nelson moved to Asheville from Arkansas in April, and has been working for Highland Brewing Company for the past three months. She’s taking charge of the brewery’s quality-control program, while learning the brewing process from top to bottom. The 26-year-old Nelson is a recent graduate of University of California-Davis’ Master Brewers program. After completing the 18-week course, she moved back to her home in Arkansas, but “the beer culture there was lacking,” she says. A friend convinced her and her boyfriend to move to Asheville. Soon after, she scored a job at Highland.

“I feel so fortunate to be in Asheville and to have a job in a brewery here,” she says. “It sounds cliché, but this is a dream job for a beginner brewer.” She’s particularly excited about some of the brews coming out of Highland’s new three-barrel pilot brewing system, such as the Little Hump Spring Ale (a pale) and the Cape Fear IPA (both on tap in Highland’s Tasting Room).

PBR for Pups

How does drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon to help the Asheville Humane Society sound? On Saturday, Nov. 13, at Asheville’s Universal Joint, all proceeds from sales of PBR from 1 until 5 p.m. will benefit the AHS (if, like me, you’d prefer to drink heartier beer, you still can donate to the cause).

U-Joint manager Jason Allison first established the fundraiser at his restaurant in Georgia when a friend's pets were in need. Now he’s bringing it to the mountains. He hopes to raise more than $3,000 that day and to raise awareness of pet overpopulation and the importance of spaying and neutering.

"PBR for Pups" logo T-shirts and hats will be on sale at the event, along with raffle tickets for prizes donated by local and national businesses (such as beer, salon visits, etc.). Raffle tickets will cost $5 each or three for $12. In addition, dogs from the Humane Society will be available for adoption.

“In June, our patrons helped raise more than $2,500 for Brother Wolf Animal Rescue,” Allison says. “Dogs aren’t responsible for themselves. People need to be responsible for dogs.”

"PBR for Pups" events will also be held in Atlanta and Dallas the same weekend to raise funds for animal advocacy groups in those cities.

For more information, call the Universal Joint at 505-7262, or visit pbr4pups.org. The U-Joint is located at 784 Haywood Road in West Asheville. For more information about Asheville Humane Society, visit www.ashevillehumane.org.

Craggie Brewing celebrates year one

The brewery crew is holding a number of beer-infused events during their birthday week:
Tuesday, Nov. 16: Beer dinner at Tingles Café.
Wednesday, Nov. 17: Dubbelicious cask release. This is Craggie’s Belgian-style double that comes in at 6.5 percent ABV.
Thursday, Nov. 18: Sugar Mama's Dubbelicious cookies and Dubbelicious beer pairing.
Friday, Nov. 19: Anniversary party, 7 p.m. until midnight, with beer, N.C. barbecue and Pumpkin Ale Brewer's Reserve beer-and-pumpkin-ice cream floats from The Hop for $5. Asheville vaudeville performances and local rockers Sirius B will play.
Saturday, Nov. 20: Buy the glass for $5 and get Dubbelicious pints for $2.25 for the night. 
Sunday, Nov. 21: Dubbelicious Anniversary 16-ounce bottles will go on sale during the weekly Hangover in the Hangar event.

All events take place at Craggie’s Public House at 197 Hilliard Ave., unless otherwise indicated. Congrats to Craggie on their first-year anniversary!

For more information, visit craggiebrewingco.com.

— Send your brews news to Anne Fitten Glenn at brewgasmavl@gmail.com

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