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Here we go:
LAB opening: Drum roll, please. The big freaking 2010 beer news for Asheville, of course, is that Lexington Avenue Brewery finally will open its doors — though, according to brewer Ben Pierson, they’re being coy about exactly when (another soft opening will take place Jan. 6, though it’s invite only). “People should keep their eyes open,” Pierson says.
While all eyes are peeled on Lex Ave, here’s the current line-up of Pierson’s unfiltered beers to get your salivary glands working: an American Pale Ale, a Bohemian-style Pilsner, a German Marzen, a Chocolate Stout, an Indian Pale Ale, and a Belgian-style White Ale. While Pierson’s sure all will sell well, he thinks the Belgian White will be a favorite: “It’s a great beer. It’s low alcohol, carbonated like champagne, and it tastes like oranges. What’s not to love?” Indeed.
Birthday bash: Highland Brewing Company’s 15-year anniversary party was snowed out during the ginormous Dec. 18 snow storm, but never fear. The party’s been rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 22, from 4-10 p.m. at the brewing facility at 12 Old Charlotte Highway. The brewery’s newly released seasonal, Auld Asheville Vintage Ale, will be the featured beer. The event will include entertainment by Asheville’s Funknastics band and pizza from Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria — also celebrating 15 years in business in Asheville. Look for the Auld Asheville Vintage Ale in 22 oz. bottles and on draft around town. It’s delicious.
Don’t overdo your beer quaffing on Friday, because the very next day is the third annual Winter Warmer beer festival, featuring 20 local and regional breweries. The fest will be Sat., Jan. 23, in Haywood Park Hotel’s Grand Ballroom from 3-7 p.m. Tickets are still available and cost $37 per person. The organizers tout this as a local’s festival and only offer 650 tickets — about 250 are still for sale as of today, says Mark Lyons, Brews Cruise co-founder. So get yours here: www.brewscruise.com/beerfest. The Lobster Trap will cater the food, which will be included in the price of your ticket and include vegetarian options. Musical acts will be Brushfire Stankgrass and Woody Wood. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to RiverLink.
Homebrew supplies on the Web: Hops & Vines (based in West Asheville) have opened an on-line store for homebrew supplies and ingredients. Check it out here. Now you can order brewing supplies from home, make beer at home, and drink it at home. Never leave home again.
Keeping up with the brews: For brewery/taproom/public house events and activities (from NFL Sundays at Pisgah Brewing to movie nights at French Broad Brewing to what’s on tap at the Wedge) check brewery Web sites or Facebook pages. Also, Bruisin’ Ales Beer Blog has regular local beer updates, and the Thirsty Monk’s site will keep you apprised of cask nights and other specials at both TM locations.
However, all this should change on Feb. 1, when the Asheville Microbreweries Web site is launched. The Web site is currently under construction by Richard Brown and Ed Yerker of Asheville-based Rba Imaging. “We’re trying to be the one Web site where you can go to get all your microbrewery information, instead of having to go to 10 different sites,” Brown says, adding that he’ll cover all of Western North Carolina’s breweries, as well as news from the Asheville Brewers Association. Stay tuned.