Ride the Bar Hopper
Now for the cost of a pint of beer, you can catch a shuttle ride from bar to bar throughout downtown and West Asheville (and it’s a helluva lot less expensive than a DUI). The Asheville Bar Hopper shuttle started ferrying beer lovers around town on February 2.
Pickup takes place at The Thirsty Monk downtown on the hour (on Coxe Ave., behind the purple building). The bus runs Thursdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. until midnight. Cost is $3 for rides within one of the two zones (either downtown or West Asheville) or $5 between zones (from downtown to West Asheville or vice versa). Some of the stops include Wedge Brewing’s parking lot off Lyman St., just north of The Orange Peel on Biltmore Ave., and near both The Admiral and The Get Down, on Haywood Road in West Asheville. Check the website for routes and schedule. Oh, and you can carry unopened bottles of beer on the bus — so I guess you can get your shopping done at the same time.
Chocolate and beer: a romantic mix
Get revved up for Valentine’s Day on Saturday, February 11 at Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain. From 8 to 10 p.m., get a pint of “chocolate-covered cherries” — a mix of Pisgah’s Chocolate Stout and their Red Devil Belgian plus two French Broad Chocolate Lounge truffles made with these two Pisgah brews. The cost is $8 for a pint and two truffles. It’s a sweet deal.
Love beer? Got some design skills? Asheville Beer Week needs a logo
The Asheville Beer Week folks are looking for a hot logo for the inaugural beer-centric spree (which actually will be an 11-day party running from May 24 until June 3). Submit your logo designs to email@example.com by Feb. 17. The logo winner will receive two tickets to Beer City Fest, two tickets to Brewgrass, and two tickets to Asheville Beer Week’s Iron Brewer Competition. You know the deal — nothing obscene or inappropriate. This is a wholesome(ish) deal. Stay tuned for regular updates on Asheville Beer Week events.
Speaking of Asheville Beer Week, tickets to Asheville’s Beer City Festival will go on sale March 15. The Festival will be held on June 2, 2012, at Roger McGuire Park at City-County Plaza and will feature 32 breweries. Tickets will be sold only locally from Barley’s Pizzeria & Taproom, Bruisin’ Ales, Asheville Brewers Alliance breweries, and possibly a few other spots. Tickets are $40 each.
Strong Beer Fest
Green Man Brewery is holding another mini-beer fest. Strong Beer Fest will take place on February 18 and 19. Fifteen small-batch beers will be available. All will range from 7 to 15 percent alcohol by volume. Four will be in casks. Admission is free. Four-ounce pours are $1.50 and half pints are $3.
More craft cans hit the region
Catawba Valley Brewing in Morganton has joined the craft can revolution, after a long research-and-development period. Brewer/co-owner Scott Pyatt has canned the brewery’s Firewater IPA, White Zombie Belgian and Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale. Look for these beers in specialty retail shops, at Barley’s Tap Room and The Bar of Soap — for now. Catawba joins Asheville Brewing Company in canning. Thus far, ABC is offering Shiva IPA and Rocket Girl Lager in cans around town. Ninja Porter should join the ABC canning line-up in a few months.
New numbers for craft beer released
The national Brewers Association recently released some new numbers that bode well for Western North Carolina’s burgeoning beer biz. Craft sales jumped 14 percent to 5.1 million barrels in the first half of 2011 after rising 11 percent in 2010. That increase puts craft beer on course to log its fastest annual growth since 1996 (a barrel equals 31 U.S. gallons). At the end of December, the Colorado-based trade group counted 1,949 operating U.S. breweries, with more than 700 in the planning stages.
Western North Carolina saw the addition of Thirsty Monk Brewery in Asheville and Frog Level Brewing Company in Waynesville in 2011. Two more breweries are slated to open in Haywood County in 2012 (Headwaters Brewing Company and Tipping Point Tavern), as is a brewery in Brevard (Brevard Brewing Company). Asheville may finally see the Altamont Brewing Company in action as well this year. And we’ll all be watching for Sierra Nevada Brewing to break ground on their second U.S. brewery out in Mills River, NC. What a year for beer!