Brews News: What’s new in the world of local beer

Talking beer

On the first and third Mondays of each month, the Thirsty Monk downtown now offers an informal gathering called “Beer Society.” The society gives beer lovers a chance to get together and talk brews. They’ll also participate in tastings, occasionally open a rare bottle (or three) or host a guest speaker. According to Monk Pub general manager Caroline Forsman, the goal is part education, part fun.

The next Beer Society gathering takes place on Monday, Dec. 6. Each evening focuses on a particular topic, often decided beforehand by the group. The Dec. 6 topic is “I’m Big in Japan,” and covers Sake and the Japanese craft beer movement, focusing on Kiuchi Brewery. The downtown Monk Pub is located at 92 Patton Ave.

Women talking beer

An even newer beer-lovers group, Asheville Beer City Divas, is Asheville’s first all-female organization devoted to everything craft beer. The goal of the group is to create a fun and relaxing atmosphere, and to learn more about craft beer and the beer industry. The first ABCD evening out will be Wednesday Dec. 8, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Barley’s Taproom. That night, the ABCDs will try a variety of seasonal brews (see a few examples below). To RSVP or for more information, e-mail Barley’s is located at 42 Biltmore Ave.

I recently attended (and spoke at) the inaugural Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, Co., and the panel on Women and Craft Beer was rather controversial. It seems that these girls’ night out groups dedicated to craft beer are springing up around the country, but some folks are taking exception to the female-centric focus.

I’m not sure if it’s any different from my all-women’s book club or Stitch N’ Bitch, but Xpress is interested in what y’all think. The ABCD group promises to include the hairier gender in some of their future events. Let us know what you think by commenting below.

Rejoice, o fans of great music and great beer

Asheville Brewing Company has rolled out their 2010 Christmas Jam White Ale.

The beer was brewed and sold for the first time last year. All proceeds from its 2009 sales — almost $10,000 — went to Habitat for Humanity to build homes for area residents in need. This year’s proceeds will benefit the same.

Asheville native Warren Haynes, renowned guitarist and singer for Gov’t Mule and the founder of Asheville’s annual Christmas Jam concert, was excited to partner with ABC to brew the ale again this year, according to Mike Rangel, ABC’s president and co-owner.

Though the Christmas Jam itself is already sold out, you can buy the beer around Asheville — on draft at area restaurants and in 22-ounce bottles at local retailers. Otherwise, you can mail-order the brew from Asheville beer retailer Bruisin’ Ales.

Seasonal holiday beers

Holiday beer concoction: the hot local brew drink of the moment seems to be mixing Highland Brewing’s Cold Mountain and their Oatmeal Porter to create an Oatmeal Cookie. Try it. It’s delicious.
Photo by Anne Fitten Glenn

In addition to Highland’s Cold Mountain Winter Ale (on tap and in bottles all over WNC right now) and the aforementioned Christmas Jam Beer, there’s a slew of holiday seasonal beers being released and sold around WNC. Wedge Brewing Company will soon release its Raspberry Imperial Stout at the brewery. Craggie Brewing recently released their Dubbelicious, a Belgian-style double ale, at their brewery and on tap around town.

Now, it’s time for the French Broad Brewery to re-release its Wee Heavy-est Belgian Style Scotch Ale for the third consecutive year on tap and in bottles. It’s a concentrated brew of the Wee Heavy-er, fermented with a special Belgian ale yeast.

Olde Hickory Brewery in Hickory, N.C., has released their Christmas Ale, spiced with orange zest, cinnamon, ginger and local honey. Find it on tap and in bottles around town.

Mother Earth Brewing out of Kinston, N.C., has released a lovely bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout, called Silent Night. I previewed this beer last summer, and it’s smooth, robust and delicious. It will be for sale at area retailers in the fancy 750-milliliter corked bottle. Also worth trying is SweetWater Brewing’s annual Festive Ale, a strong, malty ale with a touch of cinnamon. Bottles of this Atlanta brewery’s beer are on sale all over WNC.

I recently found a 2007 bottle of Festive Ale in my basement. Sadly, it had been stored on its side (a no-no for beer), and had partially leaked out of the cork and wax coverings. Not sure whether or not I should try what remains.

Bruisin’ Ales will hold a free Christmas beer tasting sampler on Thurs, Dec, 2, including Bell’s Christmas Ale, Great Divide Hibernation, Delirium Noel (2010), and Gouden Carolus (2008).

Happy holiday beer drinking, y’all.



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7 thoughts on “Brews News: What’s new in the world of local beer

  1. Jake Quinn

    Among the many, many things in this world I’ve yet to understand is the “beer goddess,” “beer diva” thing. They seem like silly labels to me.

  2. ashevillain7

    That Sweetwater Festive Ale is good stuff. I doubt it would be good after storing on its side though.

    I’ve been enjoyed the 12 pack of 2009 Cold Mountain that I stowed away for the past year. I definitely like it better after having aged. Much smoother and less pronounced hops. (I don’t like hoppy beers!)

  3. Speaking of stouts, just learned the Pisgah Valdez, coffee stout, is back on at their Tasting Room out in Black Mountain. This stout’s made with coffee from Dynamite Roasting Company in Blk Mt. It should be delicious.

  4. Ashevillain7,
    I have Cold Mountain’s from 08 and 09 in my “cellar.” I agree that they age well, though two years may be too long in the cellar for this type of brew. I’ll let you know.

  5. dpewen

    I love all the local brews except Graggy … they need some work.
    Jake, I like the labels.

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