Welcome to Asheville Beer Week
Asheville Beer Week guides should still be floating around town. By the time this column goes to print, the inaugural 11-day “week” will be halfway over. If you’re late to the party, you can find more information at http://www.ashevillebeerweek.com and the Asheville Beer Week Facebook page.
The third celebration of our Beer City USA, win takes place Saturday, June 2, from noon to 6 p.m. at Roger McGuire Green in Pack Square Park. A few tickets for Beer City Festival will be available at the door for $40 (cash) each.
Beer City: Asheville ties with Grand Rapids
Our beer-loving town now stands at two ties and two wins for the informal online BeerCity USA poll, administered for the past four years by examiner.com’s Charlie Papazian. This year, Asheville tied with Grand Rapids, Mich., with both cities receiving 32 percent of the vote. In 2009, Asheville shared the title with Portland, Ore., then went on to win it flat-out the next two years.
This year, the voting seesawed throughout the polling between Asheville and Grand Rapids, but the finish was a dead heat. Both received 7,849 votes, Papazian says. Overall, 55,926 votes were cast from 90 countries.
As soon as the vote was final, the Asheville Brewers Alliance reached out to Grand Rapids and invited the city to come serve some of their craft beers at Asheville’s annual Brewgrass Festival on Sept. 15.
“I called and talked to the head of Founders Brewing,” says Mike Rangel, president of Asheville Brewing Company and ABA member. “They are excited and really want to send some people down here for Brewgrass.”
Rangel then showed up at the Asheville Beer City toast with a “golden” keg, which he plans to fill with an ABA-member beer and send to Grand Rapids (see photo).
In an article written on MLive.com, reporter Garret Ellison writes, “Although the honor is largely symbolic, the new crown bestowed on Grand Rapids by the power of the Internet may have some very real economic benefit.”
There’s little doubt that the unscientific poll has influenced both beer tourists and the interest of breweries, both large and small, in the WNC region.
MORE new breweries on the horizon
Yes, it may feel like a bandwagon effect. I mean, how many breweries can one town, or even one fairly large corner of North Carolina, support? That remains to be seen. But here’s more news about more new breweries coming to the area — and, we hope, bringing even more great beer.
Mystery brewery On Thursday, May 31, at Wedge Brewing, from 6:30 until 9 p.m., a reception will be held at the Wedge where the owners of the latest Asheville brewery, to be located at 91 Biltmore Ave. in downtown Asheville, will announce its name and projected opening date. Sounds like fun.
Burial Beer Co. is a project of longtime home brewer Doug Reiser, his spouse Jessica Reiser, and Tim Gormley, currently a brewer for Sound Brewery in Seattle, Wash. The three reside in Seattle, but they plan to move to Asheville in Sept. 2012 to start brewing commercially.
They’re currently working with a local real estate agent to purchase land, in the city or nearby, that will support an urban farm, the brewery and a public taproom. The idea is that the farm will produce fruits, vegetables and herbs used in the beer, such as sweet potatoes, pears and raspberries.
Reiser, who currently owns his own law firm, says he’s looking for a 15-barrel brewing system and he wants to distribute fairly widely (one reason folks out West sometimes snub their noses at our beer scene? They don’t have access to Asheville beer. At this point, only Highland and French Broad are distributed outside of North Carolina, and then only in a few other Southeastern states). Reiser says he’s also researching canning lines and will bottle, but only in 750 milliliters. The Reisers and Gormley plan to have two lines of beers, kind of like Port Brewing and Lost Abbey in San Marcos, Calif. One, the Burial line, will consist of “robust” American style beers, such as an imperial coffee stout. The other, their Farmhouse line, will offer “big” Belgian style beers.
Lookout Brewing Company in Black Mountain currently consists of a nano system in a warehouse — and free beer tastings when brewer John Garcia announces them on its Facebook page. We’ve been hearing that Black Mountain Ale House wanted to start brewing, so I called co-owner and manager John Richardson, who confirmed that Lookout is his project with Black Mountain Ale House bartender Garcia. Because they didn’t have space in the restaurant, the partners rented a facility across town, but beers will be on tap at Black Mountain Ale House as soon as the permits come through.